Juju in the Air

Cazenovia Cider Label, Good Life Cider, Clients: Melissa Madden, Garrett and Jimmy Miller, 2014

Cazenovia Cider Label, Good Life Cider, Clients: Melissa Madden, Garrett and Jimmy Miller, 2014

It has been a while. I should apologize for my neglect, but quite candidly, it is what it is. The past month has embraced many things including an unexpected visit from Alex, Kitty getting into a pattern, a trip to Sagamore and the opening of the new Rongovian Embassy on top of the day to day. We have had some bloopers with the furnace and stove. We have had huge  hedges trimmed and things closed down in prep for winter. And then of course, there is the ginger bug.

Say what? A ginger bug? Well, let me wheel this back a teensy bit. My friends Melissa and Garrett along with Garrett's brother, Jimmy are making hard cider (label shown to the left). They are also making exquisite ginger beer from the organic ginger that  Melissa grows in her high tunnels here in the cold (not tropical) Finger Lakes. The Ginger beer they make is dry and lemon-y and makes a girl wistful for hot summer afternoons or cozy evenings by the woodstove. It is bright and shiny as a blue sky morning and is certainly not kids stuff. I helped Melissa at Cider Week (at the Rongo) --tabling and sampling to get their name out as their hard cider (designed by yours truly) is on the way. But, to get attention on Good Life Farm, they sampled this dreamy sparkling Ginger beer which the crowds went gaga over...and I thought...hey. I should make some of that.

To back up even more, I have turned my new little pantry room into Mommy's Fermentation Room. I pressed a ton of apples -- actually juiced them, and am making big containers of vinegar. I have one of apples. I have one that is apples with one big fat red beet pressed with the apples giving me a vinegar that is rich, deep purple. I have a container of "apple peel" vinegar which is made up of apple peels that are fermenting in water sweetened with honey. There is really not much to make vinegar...it is the cultivation of the "mother", a cloudy amalgam of bacterial that translates the wild yeast magically in the air (I know that there is "science in this" but I prefer to stomp my feet and hope that the juju and the good magic works versus something as sensible and rational as science can 'splain all of this)...and converts the sweetness to alcohol (hard cider) to then the next step which is vinegar. Sounded simple from my reading on the web, and it is. I just need to keep an eye on it and see how sour I will let it go.

The interest in vinegar came from the ton of refrigerator pickling I have been doing in response to our CSA being big on beets this year. And guess what? I am making some pretty fine pickled veggies with beets being at the top of list. They are good enough, we eat them for breakfast (more like I eat them for breakfast and offer them to the crew. "No thank you. Please pass the jam"). The pickled baby brussels sprouts are good too. And, speaking of beets, I am making a slaw these days from shredded beets, carrots, cilantro, oil and lime juice that we eat  batch I grate up another immediately. Big hit here at 2 Camp St.

So back to the bug. So Garrett and Jimmy are making this sublime organic ginger beer, and we are talking about it in the early fall sunshine out at their Farm. It dawned on me that they would love  my newest favorite magazine...so I whip out my new copy of Imbibe Magazine and there is an article on shrubs and Ginger Beer and we all get really excited, sort of like the happy bacteria chomping away on all the sugery goodness in the juice I had brewing in the Fermentation shack--one idea feeding the other. I ended up giving them my copy of the magazine-- and going home to take out all the electronic books the New York Public Library has online. Turns out, there are many ways to make Ginger Beer, but the most interesting way for me, was to cultivate a "wild-fermented"Ginger bug, essentially, a biga or a starter (as in bread) for drinks. It is ginger, water and sugar and lots of stirring and watching. Also...no closed jars (cheesecloth with a rubberband to hold it in place to keep the flies out but let the yeast in) because it's got to to the same thing that our friends, the vinegar do....which is to invite the bacterial to come and chomp on the sugar--and develop it into a fermented base which will give us a spritz or natural "bottle conditioned" carbonation.

Why have a pet when you can feed and be entertained by a Ginger bug. So much fun.

Here is someone who is intelligent and writes charmingly on the magic I am fumphering around to communicate:

The Splendid Table>>

So, I am busy planning Thanksgiving and am going to (hoping I am not going to the hospital this year) be prepping the whole shebang in advance of the holiday. I am making turkey stock as we speak. I have baked a ton of sweet potatoes to make a sweet potato dish (never, ever have done that....not big on sweet food, but I think its a worthy try)>> Ruth Chris Sweet Potato Casserole. I have all the goodies ready to be added to the stuffing bread and parsley all cut, sauteed and frozen. I have the better part of a dozen apples on the stove simmering in lemon juice and cider, ready to make into applesauce for the Thanksgiving leftovers. Tomorrow, the stock will be strained, skimmed and some will become a mess of gravy for the day of and the day after that I will freeze in advance. Gravy is a big deal around here. I will have extra stock for Thanksgiving cooking...ready to go...and a clean refrigerator thanks to all the stockmaking (now referred to, by the hipsters as "bone broth"). I have frozen a pile of grated beets (gold and red) with carrots for a salad. I also have hot beets ready to peel and pickle for another jar of red side dishes.

I have two huge stalks of brussels sprouts that need to be pared down and the sprouts  sliced paper thin to roast on the big day. I will prep the mashed potatoes the day before and let the potatoes sit in water and destarchify. There are the cranberries to be made and frozen. This year, I am going rogue and adding fresh ginger to that mix. I think that will be sublime.

I have baking to do (cornbread and pumpkin bread, ginger snaps, and some pecan bars).  A friend is bringing pies. I might even make a spice cake as I love them...and having a  robust dessert offering is just plain fun and feasty.

Gotta go. Tomorrow I will rant about my planning around this year's advent calendar. I am smiling a lot to myself as I am amused by where this is going.... Lets hope the work measures up to the dreaming.

Enabling a good life.

What a nice day. Sure, there was lots of work getting all sorts of things off my desk, but I had pre-graduation weekend prep to take care of too...and I have adorabibble Alex Cassetti home. I am such a fortunate girl! I got the stuff done and out.

Saw the Physical Therapist to the Stars, a one, Mr. Jim Cunningham who I love and adore. He is a delight, kind and truly puts this body up on the jacks and whales on this stiff, swollen ankle. Though sometimes  being in the presence of Mr. Cunningham is not much of a party, chatting it up about his world of iron men competitions, 50 mile bike rides, and what it is to truly be a master in the PT world makes up for any ouches or oohs. We are working on stepping over my bright orange cane (I am pretending I am jumping over the broom as in a marriage ceremony and it makes it a bit more festive), on lateral movement with a band, and some stretching. After my 40 minutes with the Physical Therapist to the Stars, I am feeling a bit run over, and frankly, around 9 p.m. it is hard to function though I must admit, sleep never fails me (which is a huge gift).

Nabee Socks

Nabee Socks

Jim approves of the compression sock torture I am doing. And he approves of my new shoes (I needed more of a solid platform with a bit more support--Merrills--matte black clog type things). As an aside, look at these cute compression socks from Nabee>>. They are the best so far. The days of the granny socks are almost over (though Jim tells me that the black diamond pattern is better than the flesh colored ones...no duh...but we have to do better than that!) I really feel there is a huge opportunity for those who need "aids" like canes, compression socks, crutches, wheelchairs and the like to create good looking things so being enabled is more than just having tools to live the best life you can-- but enabling to live the best life you can and do it in a way that is fun, functional and stylish. Why is being enabled such a functional thing? For those in need of help, they are the ones that most need a spiritual lift, a happy factor in those tools to make them not just enabled, but cool...not pathetic "poor thing" but "hey, way to go!". This is an opportunity to allow all of us who have been given time to live our lives happily, do do it in the most enriched way possible. And why does making something stylish need to cost a zillion more dollars? If IKEA can bring good design affordably into every house in the freaking WORLD... what is the IKEA for these types of tools, these types of choices? I am seeking them out. If anything, its a list with links. But there should be something/ some entity that takes this all seriously. Living life fully is a serious matter.

Here are some resources:

Canes: OMHU canes.
"Omhu is a design concern that makes premium medical equipment and accessories. Danish for “with great care,” Omhu was founded on the belief that life is imperfect and beautiful. Creative Director and President, Rie Nørregaard began work on OMHU in 2009 with its now signature cane. Yet Omhu began by virtue of necessity. When Rie’s family faced the need to outfit the rapidly changing lives of four aging parents, she eagerly took on the task of finding the best-designed aids for daily living. She found she had ventured into a sea of grey; found nothing bearing even the minimum evidence of acceptable design acumen. As the mother of two small children, Rie had seen the proliferation of diversifying baby products and accessories: products that explored different brand identities, price points, and design principles. The abundance in baby gear juxtaposed against the dearth of well designed mobility aids for anyone past infancy felt especially stark. It was obvious to the trained designer what needed to be done. Having worked for years at companies like Smart Design and Frog Design—working at the former in a small pioneering team that designed and launched OXO kitchen tools — Rie understood superior performance and vibrant design were not mutually exclusive. She then teamed with Susy Korb and Susan Towers—two experienced luxury marketing strategists — to take on the curious task of outfitting the differently abled. Omhu has become a movement on top of being a business, with an attitude toward design as well as the circumstances of life. Because with great care, life may be imperfect, and also beautiful."

I believe that OMHU has a relationship with SABI with their canes being marketed at the SabiRoam>> Sabi has Yves Behar / fuse project working on pillboxes, pill management and storage for them. I think there is something here..but feels a bit TBD, and not fleshed out enough to match my fantasy of the IKEA for enabling.

Quickstep Crutches

Quickstep Crutches

Then there is this amazing company I stumbled over while trying to figure out a cool crutch should I have needed it post wheelchair: Thomas Fetterman , a trained product designer who had to use crutches since his childhood due to contracting polio. The dude knows what he is doing. He has crutches with customized tips that can take you from walking on the beach, to ice, to rain. He has focused on materials to really make using a crutch not such a jarring, harsh experience, but a honed tool, designed for each environment--again, enabling life to continue in the tullest way. Plus, he has cool crutches from all over the world that can fill all the needs that life throws you.

I found Fetterman because I had found these Quickstep folding crutches in Europe and wanted to see if they had them here. Of course, the expert has them at Fettermans.

Wheelchairs, I have yet to pursue. But the idea of a wheelchair in it's updated form still relies on the form /factor of the wheelchairs one sees in images from the Civil War and earlier. Now that we have new materials, micro and nano technology, computers, ports, USBs etc. why shouldn't the wheelchair become more than wheels to move you from location to location. Why shouldn't it be able to move up and down as well as horizontally? Why shouldn't it be able to climb stairs, and negotiate odd terrain? Why shouldn't it be able to be connected with Google Earth? or MapQuest and take you from here to there without steering? Why shouldn't there be better storage/hauling? And the list goes on.

Time does not. Need to wink out for now. To quote our yute (the way they say "Youth" in NYC), "peace out".


Cut Paper Heart From USPS Stamps.com


The Cut Paper Heart stamp adds another romantic entry to the beautiful Love stamp series.

This fanciful stamp takes its inspiration from the folk traditions of papercutting. Its digital illustration depicts a large white heart enclosing a smaller pink heart with a saw-toothed edge along its left-hand side. Surrounding the central hearts are pink swirls, with smaller hearts imbedded in the design and a ragged-edge motif that echoes the edging on the small pink heart. The hearts and swirls are contained within a red square that has “pinked” edges, as if cut with pinking shears. A white border frames the entire design.

The stamp art is reminiscent of liebesbriefe — ornately cut and painted love letters that are a form of scherenschnitte, the papercutting tradition brought to America in the 18th and 19th centuries by German immigrants. Not intended only for February 14, these early precursors to valentines carried declarations of love and sometimes proposals of marriage. The stamp art is a stunning digital interpretation of these traditional love-letter decorations.

Like the liebesbriefe, the Cut Paper Heart stamps are not just for use on Valentine’s Day, but say “love” all year round.

Designed by art director Antonio Alcalá, the stamp features an illustration by Q. Cassetti.


Also: Here is another really nice article on the stamp>>


Psyched to be involved

Halloween Warmup, Q. Cassetti, 2011, Adobe Illustrator CS5It was heads down yesterday. I had yearbook, files to complete, new projects to begin. I am working on a bunch of vector things just to get my hand in, my eye in, my head into the work. I am feeling stale overall, so playing the visual scales is a good thing that is challenging me, and at the same time, making some happy holiday imagery.

Rob is in NYC. Alex is in prep for his play and for upcoming XC events. The girls XC team wants me to do a shirt for them inspired by the Sausage Fest shirt. Its not my design. It’s Alex’s work…I am just the hands…and he has ideas for the girls he knows either they will not get, or better, get and not understand how inappropriate it is. I need to get him to put his brain on this for amusement (at least ours).

Gloria is on her way east. Gloria is my sister-in-law who has lived in Los Angeles since college. She has decided to move east for a change of things—bringing household and horse (big horse) to settle here with family and old friends (and new ones too). We are all looking forward to this change for her…and feel that this will be a good thing for her personally, professionally. Los Angeles, as much as its heaven, is tough going financially, travelling, making friends, engaging in community. These are factors that are sweet here. I think she is going to be pleasantly surprised once she settles in. She is driving her cute little blue car east … Memphis was last night. Tonight is Lexington KY. She will be here Friday. So things are ramping up here on campus.

I started Thanksgiving on Sunday making the filler for the stuffing (I make a combo of sausage, mushrooms, leeks, parsley (sauteed)) that I blend with cornbread, and parmesean cheese. Tonight I start making stock so I can make the gravy in advance. I want to make pumpkin bread and cornbread in the next week or so. Same with the cranberries. All this prework makes the 25th of Nov. a pleasant day. I love this. Totally. I should be doing dupes so that xmas is the same. That would be genius. I am not that genius…but if one is prepping feasts, prep big. I am thankful I am living in the day of the freezer and not the middle ages so this sort of prework can happily be done.

Postcard, Wide Awake Bakery, illustration/design, Q. Cassetti, 2011, Adobe Illustrator CS5In the spirit of giving, I was thrilled to read about my friend, Stefan Senders championing a local food delivery to the Occupy Wall Street folks>> Ithaca is filled with protesting old hippies who love local food. We are all over being part of the 99% and want to share our goods to keep cheer for those who are doing the occupying. Stefan, as you remember, is the baker/owner of Wide Awake Bakery (a wood fired, artisan bakery who uses flour that is grown and ground here in Tburg. Here is a bit from the Ithaca Journal article by Rachel Stern:

“A van, running on biodiesel and chock-full of goodies made in the Ithaca area, traveled to New York City to feed protesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement last week.

Organized by Stefan Senders of Wide Awake Bakery of Trumansburg, the van was packed with bread, pancake mix, cheese, scones, cabbage, bulgur and whole wheat pasta, to name a few items. Eager to find a way to contribute to the movement, Senders decided to enlist the help of local farmers and restaurant owners.

“Our bakery has a mission to bake the best bread in the world, but we also have a social mission to do good things we believe in,” he said. “We really wanted to contribute in some way to the movement because it is very much in line with what we think.”“…

“This is part of our mission — it is part of the mission of many of us in the area — to do all we can to help what we see as an important movement,” he said. “We feel like we are doing the right thing. We are totally psyched to be involved.”“

How wonderful!

Blue Mountain Lake, Q. Cassetti, 2011We got up to Sagamore just a minute before the dinner bell rang yesterday. It was a wonderful drive—albeit a bit new for us as we missed a turn, so “Talkin’ Tina” our GPS took us through the italian section of Rome, NY to see the wonders (and italian delis) of that little industrial town prior to meeting up with the great northern way that took us to Old Forge. What a fun drive with my boyfriend seeing new sights, talking about this and that…and knowing that we had a few days to decompress a bit.

Rob needed sweaters and I needed a raincoat so we stopped at the Gillinghams type emporium in Old Forge for both. Gillinghams, for the record, is one of my most favorite stores in the United States of America. It is located in Woodstock, VT and they have everything from nutcrackers to cheese, shoes to salad bowls, organic hand balm to penny candy—a veritable yankee’s version of Aladdin’s cave. I always burn through a bunch of money there and never regret my purchase. The Old Forge version had just what we were looking for at a good (not great) price. We were sure that if we had bought sweaters and a raincoat, it would guarantee perfect warm weather during our short stay at the utopia in the Adirondacks, The Great Camp Sagamore. And outside of the small, violent downpours today, we have had that.

We were granted the best room in the Main lodge. Our room has a huge stone fireplace along with a bathroom we do not have to share. We even have a fan (brilliant Rob even brought one along for a just in case). It is lovely and we are so delighted for the extra treat.

My random chit chat about this and that went over well after Elizabeth Buchinger charmed and delighted the room into thinking about image, brand, and focus around how to be successful with lots of pushing the people into groups to figure it out as teams. I had some good questions (about copyright, about creative commons) and I think if I didn’t put them to sleep, mesmerize them—they at least were courteous and nice not to go to sleep. A lovely young woman who works at a historic house in the NYC area greeted me with tears saying that I confirmed that one should pursue your passion…and I guess she needed to hear that today. It was quite heartening though I must admit, I was a bit on autopilot, so goodness knows what I said that struck that amazing chord. I am happy that the crew got something to take home and think about.

I am loving the people here and cannot say enough about them. The Sagamore meeting always affirms to me what is good and great about New York State. Strong and smart people from the Hanford Mills Museum, to the witty museum professional from NYC, to the shrewd manager of a Historic House Museum— they all have chops, confidence and a bushytailed aspect of learning and growing from each other. This is an amazing event that happens quietly, annually in these historic woods, and it changes lives. How often does that happen. I am blessed to have been included.

Lunch was packed at breakfast time, so we went off to have lunch at Uncas, the other Great Camp just “down the driveway” from Sagamore. It was wonderful to be in that lovely space again amongst the heavy wrought iron, the stones and wood, the ancient taxidermy and the adorable little lake that lapped up on the beach close to the house. The entire architecture as it interfaces nature is perfection there…and as Beverly told us, it was because it was sited by the original architect of this camp—not a wealthy patron who was in the chain of those who acquired the property and the magic that comes with it. I love how livable Uncas is—with space to stretch out to read, to think, to be one with the elements. The amazing Uncas fireplace complete with the original ironwork (with turtles and the word Uncas in the designs) has an inglenood…and again according to Beverly, is one of the largest fireplaces in the string of famous Adirondack camps.

We had a nice discussion this afternoon about public programming and then off to the Adirondack Museum to hang out and smell the flowers (and see the exhibits). I was stunned by the pink hydrangeas and the masses of Japanese anemones growing upward and outward with deep purple buds covered by small bees trying to get the last bits of yumminess before the frosts begin. The mists were covering the tops of the mountain right above us on Blue Mountain Lake— and I took great delicious breaths of air and tried to print it all on my small brain. We had a fun chat with a new friend on beekeeping, on collections. on Vermont and on Cooperstown, and with another on Antarctica, on fund raising, on national press and on dreams. all of this with the changing skycap over Blue Mountain Lake below us—going from stormy, to cloudy to clear…all over the twinking water and evergreen backdrop.  My head needs to stop ticking…it is great stuff.

I bought balsam in a bag… so I can bring that Adirondack scent home with me.

And now my obligations are complete. I can take tomorrow off perhaps to dream and draw albeit today’s drawings were of trees for my client’s holiday cards. Maybe my pictures will happen tomorrow.

signs of fall

Green Man 12, Q. Cassetti, 2011, pen and ink.The hosta have their huge white trumpets pointing to the sky, fragrant and rich, ready to beckon autumn. We always have them for Alex’s birthday—just on the front end of school starting.It is hard to imagine that summer is on the downside—and that change is in the air—back to school, back to college, finding colleges, finding programs, Thanksgiving and Columbus Day weekends all in eyeshot. I really just want to freeze this time of cool breezes, dramatic clouds on the horizon, the purple/paines grey and pink evenings, and the mesmerizing sleep we all are granted in our lakeside bower. Doesn’t get much better than this.

It is a quieter week on the work front. My client is taking her well deserved holiday so we have a bit of space to finish up some loose ends. I hope I can break through some of the more rigid things and have projects moving again. It would be great.

The freezer jam I made from some of the peaches we picked is half done (home team say yum yum)…and I made another dose last night. Quick and so easy…and all about the fruit. Next step, no sugar and maybe some fresh lemon peel…or peaches and raspberries? Oy. More raspberries concurrent with the Hector National Forest Saturday drop offs for Alex to do Cross Country training….He needs a pick up and delivery…so I can pick in the three hours in between. Divine!

I started a poster for the Library anniversary and surprisingly, I think the vector is too staid for the event, so I am going to draw this one. Needs to be more whimsical and illustrative. A portrait is not the right family/fun message I think they are looking for. I have 2 vector portraits on board too…so I have a bit of everything.`


Harlequin Bunny, Q. Cassetti, 2011, pen and inkAnother perfect day. A bit overcast…but brilliant green popping out. TJ is sitting on my office window sill, watching the birds from our higher perch while giving himself a bath.

Apropos of nothing, IIsabella Blow was inspired by yesterday’s nugget. I learned about Philip Treacy, the imaginative milliner who created many of the hats we saw at the Royal Wedding (Princess Beatrice’s beige wreath and ribbons as the most noteworthy). Check out the hats, gallery on his site. Treacy uses the head as just an element in his scupture using felt, straw, and fabric. His work is elegant and yet can be outlandishly Grace Jonesy…Theatrical but still in the zone of fashion versus costume. Just take a little tour on his site, and you will see what I mean.

In addition to learning about Treacy, I found out about his muse, Isabella  Blow (1958-2007), English magazine editor and “international style icon”. (Interesting article from The Daily Mail written by her ex-husband).

“If you don’t wear lipstick, I can’t talk to you.”
Isabella Blow

Isabella Blow spurred some of the most interesting British fashion….Wonderful…even down to her funeral complete with a willow casket with over the top white roses, millinery ribbon and a black hat perched on top of the whole shebang. Her casket was taken to the cemetery  in a victorian glass hearse- very Edward Gorey-eque. If you search it, Treacy designed very beautiful ostrich plumes for the horses that pulled the hearse….totally stylish.

Onward to the ordinary.

2011 Pantone Color of the Year: Honeysuckle

Yes folks. The Pantone color of the Year is Honeysuckle! I totally missed turquoise from last year. At least I have time to get with the program this year!

From the Pantone site:

“While the 2010 color of the year, PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise, served as an escape for many, Honeysuckle emboldens us to face everyday troubles with verve and vigor. A dynamic reddish pink, Honeysuckle is encouraging and uplifting. It elevates our psyche beyond escape, instilling the confidence, courage and spirit to meet the exhaustive challenges that have become part of everyday life. 

“In times of stress, we need something to lift our spirits. Honeysuckle is a captivating, stimulating color that gets the adrenaline going – perfect to ward off the blues,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “Honeysuckle derives its positive qualities from a powerful bond to its mother color red, the most physical, viscerally alive hue in the spectrum.” 

Eiseman continues, “The intensity of this festive reddish pink allures and engages. In fact, this color, not the sweet fragrance of the flower blossoms for which it was named, is what attracts hummingbirds to nectar. Honeysuckle may also bring a wave of nostalgia for its associated delicious scent reminiscent of the carefree days of spring and summer.” 

Honeysuckle is guaranteed to produce a healthy glow when worn by both men and women. It’s a striking, eye-catching hue that works well for day and night in women’s apparel, accessories and cosmetics, and in men’s ties, shirts and sportswear. Add a lively flair to interior spaces with Honeysuckle patterned pillows, bedspreads, small appliances and tabletop accessories. Looking for an inexpensive way to perk up your home? Paint a wall in Honeysuckle for a dynamic burst of energy in the family room, kitchen or hallway. “

Pantone goes on to tell us that you can get paint, wedding apparel and yes, a Pantone Visa Card (I mean, why not!). All of this points, for me, that the end of the world is coming. I mean, a Pantone Visa Card? I guess we don’t have enough to do beyond work and the antics of Snookie and the Situation so shopping with our pink card (maybe only buying honeysuckle, energized products?) is there to fill the time!

Windy Wednesday

Twin Cats, Q. Cassetti, 2010, sharpies, prismacolor pencils, digital.So, what can I do with the digital files of these sharpie pix? are there new lives, new colorations? new approaches I can pull out of them? I twiddled with the cat I posted yesterday to make them more delft-y and add some tome to just juice up the images. Maybe in the spirit of decorative illustration, I can layer more happy patterns in amongst these pictures…to make them more nutty. Still looks hand-drawn…and though tone is added, the hand is still there. I think I am going to go back into this picture to add a bit more depth, and highlights.  Maybe this illo can go to the Feline Health Center (they always have need of new art for their thank you/ acknowledgement cards). Would be cool to print the yellow and light blue, but to foil stamp the dark blue. Could be sweet and dimensional.

I discovered a cache of Moleskine Volant (paper bound) notebooks I bought through BargainCell.com earlier this year (large size/set of two for $5.99). So, I can keep with this sharpie approach just to keep the images rolling. I am also going to be running two books at one time (a big one and a little one) going into the holidays. Remember the fun I had last winter with the advent calendar? I think there is another body of holiday pictures in the works in the sharpie mode just to see what I can do. Fun.

Yesterday, swept a bunch of small stuff off the desk in prep for the next month. My big client has a big meeting on Thursday so either the phone will be ringing off the hook today or quiet for the next two days or so. We are selling on Etsy (believe it or not) with the dog stuff moving. I am excited by that opportunity. The Bakery is rolling on a logotype (I think). So work will evolve with this.

Kitty will be with us in a week. I think we are appropriately thrilled to have her.

Rain with a chance of more rain.

Edge Lit Mr. White, Q. Cassetti, 2010Here he is. Mr. Percival B. White (be is for Barry as Alex couldn’t handle the prissy Percival name). Rogue cat. Rabbit killer. Mr. Making Friends with all the Bed and Breakfast Guests So They Give Him Tuna Fish. Mooch Meister. I liked this shot as the screen sets up a scrim of the background facing the quadrangle and the clearing with his pink ears complementary with the bright green in the foliage.

Working on a phoenix. You got the first shot last night. Working into it…more tone, more flames, twistier, better curves (at least I hope). Its a nice respite to be among my vectors while I brew and stew in the world of the handdrawn. Next step, really focus down on the Hangar posters…and spend some time on them. Time, which I will have next week!. News is that I will go with Rob to the Great Camp Sagamore for his week of conference with Museumwise. I thought I would stay home, mind the shop and tend to Alex (which is a good thing) but the time in quiet would be a break and a chance for me to really think about things with a pencil…or without. I think I will take an iPod along with my phone with books on tape…and settle in with Hangar, illustration and some other work to not dash it off…but draw it and have the time to do it. Need to make some lists too…but the ISDP/Hartford travel schedule and enforced getting out there needs to switch to my life. Thus, the decision to do this for me..to temper my thinking and sharpen my pen—and push ideas around in that beautiful place.

Have meetings tomorrow. One regarding the Annuals for Cornell along with a new piece for Ithaca College. Good stuff. New stuff. If I have time, I will search my images next week too for the Cornell piece. Should be good.

News from Kitty Section: (quoted from Facebook)

Kitty Cassetti  thinks its funny how we all go through high school saying “I’m bored, there’s nothing to do!” but once one gets to college all we can say is “I wish we had more time.” Fifty pages of the Ramayana left and several new documents on dancing on the way. DO I EVEN HAVE TIME FOR HAMPFEST????

Kitty Cassetti  gods cursed with a thousand female organs all over their body, the room of anger, scheming wives, beds feeling like rocks and birds being too loud all because of a spontaneous love. Oh Ramayana, you are so hilariously awesome… I think that Hampshire needs a Room of Anger to just go into and rant…

Kitty Cassetti  has had two separate conversations today about how misunderstood sharks are and how evil dolphins are. God I love this place…

Please note. All seems good in Amherst.


Three's the charm

Angel, Q. Cassetti, 2010, digitalI wrote two entries yesterday. I lost two entries yesterday…so I am trying again and hoping that this entry will not get lost or go down the digital black hole that yesterday’s efforts so happily did. Sorry for the grousing.

Sunday’s trip to Cheryl Shaefer’s yarn sale was better than I could have even anticipated. It was totally in the Central New York experience of fruit stands and vegetable tables in the front yard. The garage and a side bay of the garage were open on Cheryl’s property, with a little “canning room” sized niche starting the grand tour of skeins upon skeins of colored, hand dyed fibers suspended from nails, and often 6-8 skeins deep. There was every gleaming color—some brights, some drabs—painted in gradients and blends, some complementary colors, some not—all the promise of scarves and jackets, socks and baby sweaters. There were two bays of all these fibers, all this future. Kitty and I frolicked in the wool, in the color, in the wonderful hand of the silk mixes, the mohair, the lovely washable superwash merino—trying to pick the skeins we wanted to do projects with. Kitty quickly settled on a bright bundle which when knit (as its almost halfway done) becomes a red fabric with colored flecks. I picked a range of sock wools (which is a wonderful thing I love) and a hank of “Elaine” in olive and khaki for a scarf that I may stripe with another, cooler green. When we went to check out, Cheryl, her husband and her design director were there with happy patter and editorial on the colors and skeins we had selected. There was a little basket filled with little folded pieces of paper. We were instructed to take one…which we did, unveiling our discount (55%) which made the shopping even more exciting. A younger member of the Schaefer clan was selling lemonade and brownies which the boys happily bought and devoured while we girls frittered away the time.

There is a possibility of doing a little branding work with Schaefer (which is something I have been thinking about for quite some time) as a trade, which could be very cool. I am meeting with them Thursday to see what happens. Interesting how things just sort of happen.

The hosta here at the lake are huge and full and fragrant. We have the front of the house planted (original plantings) solid with these yellow green plants which around this time of the year, pop open these enormous flowers, white easter lily sized blooms, which emit the most glorious, waxy scent in the spirit of lilies and gardenias. At dinner, in the cool humidity of the day, we are gifted this lovely smell, which only comes at this time, in this place for which I am always delighted and amazed. It is that time of the season.

Alex has started Cross Country training. He is all over it and able, this year, to articulate why it is he loves this. It is the running against oneself, but also it is the comraderie of his teammates…the spirit of individual by himself and individual as part of the larger group. Kitty is winding down. We get her to Hampshire by the first of September. She just got her classes and dorm assignments—so we will call with questions today to see if we are missing anything. Kitty is interestingly putting a lot of her people issues to rest in anticipation of the new future. I do not know if this is conscious, but it is fascinating to see her preparing for the next chapter in such a mature way. She is resolving old conflicts, talking to folks that have made her nuts, and setting her old relationships on new paths for the future. Now, (this is her mother speaking) if only she could focus on packing. But she will…just not much in advance of the move.

I am working as Alexander Girard these days. I made an angel yesterday in the spirit of the Nativity poster—but it became mine as I gave it a fraktur face and changed the hands/body a bit. I am fascinated with his approach and how he is very decorative but deliberate in his placement of frivolity. He lives in the world of negative and positive which is comfortable for me too…so I really need to let that go a bit. Girard also worked in a “making icons” way of work where each image was more of a single “potato” and not so much a storytelling process. It is more “here’s an angel, here’s a series of sunfaces, here’s aheart” driven by his love of type and folk art. Interestingly, his three dimensional work (his people, his nativity) is more narrative, but personally, I think he treated each figure the same iconic way—but allowing for the viewer/owner of these figures to make narratives by the placement and use of these forms. Girard got down to the basic design elements of color, type, form. He revelled in them that the simplest use was often his final resolution (ie the colored planes for Braniff). And in that pure use of these design elements, the sheer confidence in saying that it was okay for a plane to be lavender, it was an entirely appropriate and successful solution. So Girard’s charge to me today, is to go forth, be simple and bold, and love what you do and what you depict.  And so it goes.

Today is clean up and make plans. Alex works. Kitty doesnt. Radio the Ape, a band comprised of Kitty and Alex’s friends play at the Rongo as a farewell concert. Rob has a village board meeting. And I have time for me….I think Alexander Girard and I have a date.

Through the Looking Glass

Amy Brill by Sheryl Sinkow from www.totallybrill.comI had a lovely, inspired afternoon yesterday with Amy Brill. Do you know her? If you don’t, you should. And because of that, being the mom I am, I am going to introduce you to her and do all the talking. If you want to hear Amy, you can hear her at her lovely blog: Totally Brill, Amy Brill’s Blog.

Amy is cute, smart, funny, amazing, talented, creative (with an exclamation point) and an inspiration to me. She lives in Jacksonville (just down the road from Trumansburg) in an amazing big house on an impressive property with lily pads and lovely trees. She has two beautiful black Briard boys who keep her company along with the zillions of cool things she surrounds herself with from blue willow china, to stacks of boxes  buttons from the last pearl button factory in the U.S. to the sample cards from a button factory with the instructions on how to blend the dyes to get that exact blueberry grey color perfectly. She has posters of clowns (her mentors in a former life as a clown) along with photos of herself as a clown. She’s been a mime, a puppeteer and I am sure she held those audiences in her hands as deftly as she did me. She has boxes upon boxes of fiber she has designed and had spun in North Carolina which then is hand loomed (or machine knit) into these lovely, creative, versatile sweaters that can work one way for one look, and then in the world of flip up dolls, you turn it counterclockwise, button a neck and turn a collar and you have something else. The jacket becomes the pants, the pants become a hat and so on…and it really truly works. She is actively engaged in her sweaters and vests and throws and fibers as she puts them on, adding a button, putting a chopstick through the texture of the stitch and making another fastening…trying a new look. She loves her fashions, she loves the process, she loves the people who make her fashions and those that wear her fashions the to make themselves look the best they can regardless of shape and size.Wiggletto Vest by Amy Brill, photographed by Sheryl Sinkow

I am helping Amy get a new look to her company going. I am hoping that this, and perhaps a push with the social media and maybe some local trunk sales might build some awareness in this local treasure and the work she does. Who would know? Right? She needs to have the support to then drive more to the cash register to allow Amy to be as creative and prolific as she is able to be. I hope this is the beginning of my getting to know Amy, her work, her ideas and her influences. She has def. gotten me (and Kitty too) to sit up and take notice. Plus, I gotta get some of those great things she designs. So cool.

To learn more about Amy, here is her website>

Here is Amy’s fan page on Facebook>

Viva Swag on “NY Stylist Sandy Cohen’s Top 5 Underground Designers” citing Amy Brill>

“Okay, we know it’s Summer, but take a look at these and gear up for Fall or for those cold air conditioned offices.  Brill spins, twists, and dyes her own, mostly cotton yarns.  The sweaters are then knit using a knitting machine.   Nine ounces of yarn are spun at a time, a very time consuming process, but one that allows Amy Brill yarns to be unique.

Further, in addition to the incredible sweaters, she also does these cool “Be The Change” necklaces.

the good old days of corporate design

Altar Dresden Foil Scrap from Martin Meyer.comOkay. More Dresden Scrap for your eyes and fun. I discovered this cool site that will wholesale this stuff to me…and I am sorely tempted. Just need a project beyond the drooling and salivating I  have being around this paper ephemera. It’s Martin Meyer Imports. Love the stuff. Take a looksee when you have time. They have altars (like this), wings, and all sorts of other great stuff like suns, moons, stars, comets. Combined with a few wonderful retablos, and one could create your own mixed culture folk art.

Today is the Sausage Fest. The pink teeshirts are rolled in a pile. Sausage is cool in the fridge which decided to work today. I bought corn and a melon from Rick along with a request for salsa tomatoes which he happily sold me for less in abundance. So, the trip for the tomato jackpot was just up the hill and not 15 minutes away in the Amish Wonderland. So, the salsa has been cut and prepped for the gang. May the fest begin. There is talk about a holiday Sausage Fest for fun—perhaps with a santa pig?

I have been musing over what I like about Alexander Girard. I guess its the limited palette, simple color treatment, simple imagery more like icons and less like stories. His work almost seem like logos for life, or symbols for living versus a snapshot from a story. Those images can be grouped together to tell a story in pictograms—evoking traditional images from folk art, folk stories, and toys. His work is altogether very happy as I am sure Girard was a joyous man who let his light shine through his work. Upon a bit a of research on his work, I came across this wonderful site on Braniff Airlines and the work/effort+ thinking that went behind the first big change of image that transformed that airline. The Braniff Pages.com shows the predecessor to Jet Blue. Braniff went from a so so airline in Texas (I think) to a look out operation which was thrilling to ride. The airplanes were different colors (whoa!) with new type by Alexander Girard (now available through House Industires):

In 1965, noted New Mexico architect and graphic designer, Alexander Girard, was hired by Jack Tinker to redesign “every aspect” of Braniff. He created the idea to use bright color schemes and ethnic art for Braniff. This was officially called “The End Of The Plain Plane,” and was applied to aircraft, lounges, ticket counters, ground equipment and everything else the “flying public” would view. 

Girard originally wanted each Braniff aircraft painted all one color, with a tiny “BI” logo and name. Braniff advertising and engineering wanted a bigger logo and bigger type, so they modified the designs and colours (adding white wings and tail) based on the Vega scheme Paul R. Braniff had created in the 1930s.

Braniff Introduced Seven Colors: Powder Blue, Medium Blue,Orange, Ochre, Turquoise, Lemon Yellow and beige. (Lavender was also introduced as shown above, but dropped)The colors were proposed by herman miller designer, Alexander Girard, and modified by Braniff In-house departments.”\

The stewardesses were trained to be hospitable at a College developed for them. Combined with the training came a overhaul of food, service and luxury with an infusion (where my relationship with Jet Blue comes in) of fun from color and design, posters and then the actual floor show during the trip. My father would take Braniff during some of his travel during this time and would come back to talk about how the stewardesses would change their uniforms during the trip going from mini to maxi to raindomed bubbleheads in Pucci designer duds.. A real live trip into a Stanley Kubrick universe from his description to an imaginative under ten year old at home. I am still intrigued. This was the time that contract furnishings via Herman Miller and the whole corporate design machine at Corning/IBM/ Cummings Engine was in full swing and fully functional. It was wild, and crazy. It was the sixties when anything was possible. And thanks to Alexander Girard, it became realized.   I am inspired.



Remote me

Finnish Chicken, Q. Cassetti, 2010, digitalI am waiting for the Sears repairman to come chez Luckystone. We have been doing the cha cha with the local appliance guy re: our refrigerator, and with two fruitless and expensive visits, we decided to throw in the towel and call in the big guns— Sears. The compressor seems to conk out and allow the fridge to heat up after two days. We have been nursing it with ancillary ice chests at the ready.

I worked on the happy brand yesterday. I have a bit more to do, but will break today to work on holiday card illustration/ design. Hopefully, i can wrap some Girard inspiration and wit to this work. I am intrigued in the way Girard cut his work, his patterns into rectangular shapes that he either worked within or cut out of. He developed iconic forms of birds, flowers, leaves, seed pods, berries on branches that fit together like a joyous jigsaw puzzle, humming happily together in vibrant colorways. His work is very derivative of the sublime work of Matisse’s old age, and a body of work I have held dearly, his cut paper compositions. There is also a dose of Mary Blair in his figures when Girard creates them—

The Hangar Theatre’s posters for next summer awaits. I have been given a sneak peek at the offerings which is very broad and ranging from serious to silly. Need to put a pencil to these as I would love to get these done by the end of November so as to get them on a schedule that is not so last minute as it has been in the past.
I also raised my hand to volunteer for next year’s Ithaca Triathlon. Another waterfall coming up! I think Girard may take a hand in this one.

Alex is moving up the corporate ladder at the Rongovian Embassy, from dishwasher to expiditer to his pleasure. Kitty is busy at Silk Naturals, our Main Street makeup business in the Masonic building.

My phone battery is almost gone. Must wrap this up— William Walton’s coronation march is playing on the radio reminding me of my wedding— as Mr. Whitman played Walton for the processional and recessional— shaking the pipes and pulling out all the stops on the massive organ at Shadyside Presbyterian Church to my delight. A good way to start today.

No candy here

Gingerbread House in the Woods, Q. Cassetti, 2010, pen and ink.Brilliant day. Rumors have it that it may go to fifty today. Fifty! The geese are honking and the promise of turkey vultures in our trees beckon. It was a quiet night last night...with dinner and friends, kids all chatty about the play and school. Thank goodness the "pig lab" is done as Alex is done with it. He enjoyed it, but it  got pretty rank at the end of that process. Tons of work yesterday. More of the same today. We got colliding rush projects that came across the transom at literally three minutes to five yesterday. A bit rugged, and I said "wait" on one of them that seemed to have had a bit more wait in it. I am trying to think about how to push towards more than a 5 minute turn around on work. It really is a bit about training the customer (maybe a bit of tough love) and praising them when they get it right. I hope this helps.

I am on my big pub for the Museum today...laying out, figuring out what goes where, with which image, silhouette or not>? side bar? or not? pullouts or not? You get the idea. Did a little work on an image yesterday (a small bit of a painting of a medieval woman holding a cup). As its a painting, its not too sharp. Plus, as it was a piece we had to work with that is around 2" x 2.75" at 600 dpi which was fuzzy at best with a lot of the line work being lost. So, I took a copy of the file, pulled a lot of the dark linework from the painting along with another midlevel selection in warm grey which I re-sandwiched with the original (multiplying the layers) and saved out... I will show you the difference when I have a chance to save out for you. It pumped the contrast of the image a bit...and though it is monkeying with the image to make it work as a little piece, still has integrity. Interesting process.

I ordered the Simon Buxton book on Bee Shaman yesterday and perused the Manuka Honeys that are offered for medicinal use (internal and topical). Big stuff in Europe. Not so big here though amazon.com has a lot of stuff. Here is a mid rated honey for both minor injury and internal use>> Manuka Honey from New Zealand>>

Honey is rated according to UMF (Unique Manuka Factor)  which determines whether it is table honey or a honey that can be used for topical treatments:

from Manuka Honey:

What Is UMF?
• UMF is the name of a very beneficial antibacterial property found in some strains of manuka honey. (UMF is not in all manuka honey.)
• UMF indicates the honey has a high antibacterial component.
• UMF is a guarantee and measure of the antibacterial potency of honey.
• UMF Manuka Honey (UMF10 is minimum level) has enhanced antibacterial potency giving it special healing qualities.
• UMF Manuka Honey is the preferred honey when selecting honey for special therapeutic uses.
• UMF is an industry registered name, trademark, standard indicating antibacterial quality
• The UMF standard is the only standard worldwide identifying and measuring the antibacterial strength of honey.
UMF was first discovered by Dr Peter Molan, MBE, of Waikato University's Honey Research Unit.
Honey contains an enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide, a proven antiseptic with antibacterial properties.
Dr Molan's research found another more powerful and more stable antibacterial property, called UMF, in some strains of manuka honey. 
UMF is additional to the hydrogen peroxide antibacterial property. 
These two properties together have a synergistic effect enhancing their effectiveness.
Studies are showing the enhanced antibacterial qualities of UMF Manuka Honey gives the honey special healing qualities.
There are Two Types of Manuka Honey:
1. Ordinary manuka honey with only the hydrogen peroxide antibacterial property common to most honeys. A very nice table honey.
2. UMF Manuka Honey with both the natural hydrogen peroxide antibacterial property plus its own natural UMF antibacterial property, giving it increased antibacterial potency. A specialty honey identified by the name UMF. It is the preferred honey for wound dressing and other special therapeutic uses.
Pretty cool, eh?


Blue Skies + Ermine Clouds

Blue sky. Finally! All the snow has gone with the streams swelling and waterfalls storming. There are lower temperatures so at least the bulbs haven't gotten the message to start pushing up.  And, there is talk, I underline talk, of snow later this week. We'll see.

We are waiting to see if any of the home team get places in the school Spring musical. Either way, they both feel that they will be in the chorus, which makes us very pleased. It will be good for Alex to see the team sport ethos in the drama production as this is the environment he loves to be part of. Plus, I think both of the two members of the hometeam have talents and skiills in this arena that they are just beginning to discover.

One instance of that is that Kitty got an A on her final speech in Speech Class on one of her favorite topics, Birds of Paradise. I am sure she rocked...but I am sure she didnt give them the real treat she will give us, the Bird of Paradise mating dance dance she does. Its wonderful. I am so thrilled that she welcomes public speaking and can really go for it...talk about a wonderful skill to have in life. I wish I could say I was envious of her....I am not, though. I am very proud. Perhaps a small maternal bird of paradise dance?

On the live from the internet world front, I got an email from an individual looking do do some illustration work. Behance is the place that has driven this conversation. The other conversation was the poster I did for the Star of Behnel Green for Adam at Bunch in London.  So, the time spent to post images to Behance is worth the time. It's more than all of us looking at each other's work--there are folks out there shopping too. I'll let you know what happens as we go.

I am finalizing this quicky redesign of a booklet for my big client. The internal client used an agency and had been working on this piece since September and it surfaced in the review process. It got a lot of attention and input--and I had Friday-today to finalize for a presentation later this week. It has gone from a "make the existing work" to an entire overhaul, new images from my stock vendor and new copy. I have a cover to redesign as well as the inside front cover. This sort of pedal to the metal approach is a bit wild, but 3 days versus 4 months has raised the image/expectation of the piece. Hopefully, there will be some teaching/learning in this process.  The work from one of this client's international business is getting better and better so I am so happy to redesign/rework their layouts as I have to do less and less every time. I am delighted with this incremental change every time.

Gotta go.