It's Winter

This evening I looked out the patio door and noticed our HUGE (like, over six feet long) icicles shining in the sunset. I had been meaning to photograph them, and this seemed the perfect opportunity. I threw on my boots and grabbed by camera.

The ripples in this one are incredible. Like the rings in a tree.

I'm so happy I could capture this. It's so stunning.

Well, with Christmas under a week away, it's been a bit of a scramble, but my "work in progress" bin is empty, by Christmas gift list is nearly all scratched off, and the cookies are baked and ready to be packaged. Whew!


New Photos

Lots of handmade gifts for Christmas this year---very busy!

I am obsessed with pinecones. I have this platter of them in the living room, a tall glass vase filled with them in the bedroom and another platter in the guest room. So festive and pretty!

my favorite mug


I bought two tins of these cookies on Friday. One is completely gone and we've started on the second.


Holiday Craft Project

While browsing through the latest issue of Sunset magazine, a fun holiday card craft project caught my eye. Their version was a simple, modern Christmas tree design, but I thought I could make mine a little more interesting, yet still be minimal and modern.


Start by using a hole punch to punch notches on the sides of blank notecards. Try diagonals or sets of horizontals.

Chose one or two colors of embroydery floss. I also used fine silver string to give a little sparkle.

Tie the floss around to the back of the card, letting it a little slack so the card is not warped. Wind the floss around into the notches as many times as you wish, changing colors if you'd like.

It's as easy as that, and I think they look really neat.



Oh no...

You may remember a post back in August about some plants I brought home from the farmer's market. This is the Crassula Columnella. What once was fleshy, bright green leaves is now dried and dead. The new growth at the top of the little plants still seems ok, there is also a tiny new shoot at the base of the tallest plant. Matt and I were gone for a week on our honeymoon, and I thought these little guys would be fine with no water for that time (I water them about once a week as it is) but when we got home, I found the Crass. in this state. There was another plant near this one with mealy bugs on it (which I promptly threw away with a heavy heart) but I haven't found any sign of bugs on this one, so I'm not sure why this plant seems to be dying. :(

On a happier note, this is the Cotyledon I came home from Palm Springs with (purchased at the Moorten Botanical Garden). Isn't it beautiful? I was hoping to find a really unusual succulent as a souvenir, and this little guy is just perfect. You may be wondering, how the heck do you get a delicate succulent from Palm Springs to Wisconsin? Easy. I emptied all the soil from the pot, wrapped it loosely in newspaper and packed it carefully into a small box and tucked it into my suitcase. Matt kept looking at all the stuff we bought and then at our small carry-on bags and saying, "are you sure we can fit all this stuff?" "Yep." I replied. And yes, we got everything home!


More Photos

Here are some miscellaneous photos from our trip. These are from the Palm Springs Visitor's Center--a very cool building designed by Albert Frey in 1965. Originally it was the "Tramway Gas Station" and was actually abandoned in the 1990's, restored and turned into an art gallery in 2000 and eventually turned into the Visitor's Center in '03.

At the Visitor's Centre, they had a little display featuring some of the modern architecture of the area.

Matt snapped this neat photo.

This was our view from our hotel room (above and two below). We stayed at The Ace Hotel, a very hip place with a lot of very hip people. We kept joking that the people there would find out that we were not hip enough and kick us out.

There was lots of neat and funky detailing on the buildings--this is a 3-dimensional facade on a dentist's office. There was also some really cool river rock mortared on the side of a building.

On our way back from Joshua Tree we stopped at Cactus Mart for the 59c "dig your own cactus" --little seedling cacti you could pluck out of the soil and plant in a pot or mini-garden. Fun!!

As I mentioned, our hotel was very cool. They had lots of really rad modern furniture all over. I especially loved these outdoor chairs by the public fireplace areas.

There were lots of neat birds there too. We saw a ton of hummingbirds all over, and espcially at the Moorten Botanical Garden. This large bird was in a tree at The Salton Sea.

The first few days, we had to get around on foot or on sweet aqua Electra bikes we could rent for free from the hotel. One day, we rode downtown for some shopping and sightseeing. That was fun!

We had such a great time in Palm Springs. Almost every single person we saw or talked to was really nice and friendly (even the hipsters at our hotel :)), the whether was gorgeous, everything we did was fun and exciting, and in all, just a perfect honeymoon!

Joshua Tree National Park

At the top of Matt's list of things to see while in the Palm Springs area was Joshua Tree National Park.

A short 45-minute drive from Palm Springs takes us to a town called, what else, Joshua Tree.

It's an absolutely beautiful area with huge rock formations that formed millions of years ago when cooling magma beneath the earth's surface came in contact with rainwater seeping down. The water created cracks and crevices in the magma, and as time went on, the earth heaved and shifted and these craggy, broken rocks were pushed to the surface. Neat!

There are miles of beautiful roadway within the park. Drive your car a little ways, park in the designated areas, get out and walk around, and climb some rocks if you feel brave.

We saw one little lizard while we were here. It was too fast to snap a picture of. We also saw a small lizard outside the Kaufmann House, and one scurrying across the sidewalk by the hotel. I caught a glimpse of a roadrunner too! Being from Wisconsin, desert wildlife is very exciting to me!

This place is a rock climbers paradise. We say many, many people up very high on these rocks.

This gives you an idea of how huge these rocks are, stacked on top of each other. Very cool!


As another adventure, on our last day we decided to go see the Salton Sea. It was HOT here! We didn't stay long, because of the heat, but we did get some good photos and learned a lot about it. The Salton Sea is an actual salt water sea located directly on the San Andreas Fault line. It is far below sea level--the deepest part of the Sea is 5 feet higher than the lowest point in Death Valley! Long story short, the Sea as it is today, started to form in 1905 when heavy rainfall and snow melt caused the Colorado River to bust at the seams at the Alamo Canal. Over the next few years, the entire volume of the Colorado emptied into the Salton Sink, forming the Salton Sea.

The Salton Sea area used to be a bustling tourist attraction in the mid-1920's, due to its abundant fishing and water recreation, but has since been nearly completely abandoned. We didn't see any, but there are ghost towns all around the Sea.

Every year, the Sea loses more water than it gains, thereby becoming more and more salty, and more and more inhospitable to fish and other wildlife. The Sea is a big attraction to migrating birds, and at one time, it was reported that 4 million birds were on the Sea at one time. The Sea is also becoming more and more polluted as the water concentrates and more waste water runoff is entering it.

What looks like beautiful white sand from afar is actually crushed shell and bone lining the perimeter of the Sea, due to the high number of creatures that perish from the harsh saline environment.

The view of the mountains above the Sea is beautiful.

I'm so glad we decided to check this place out on our last day. It is very unique and has an incredible story behind it. Hopefully, something is done to clean it up and rescue it from becoming so polluted as to no longer support the millions of birds and other animals that use this Sea as an oasis in the desert.

Check out Wikipedia for info on the Salton Sea.


Richard Neutra's Kaufmann House

For our next adventure in Palm Springs, Matt and I took a self-guided modern residential architecture tour. We picked up a special map at the Visitor's Center and off we went.

One of the first things to catch our eye on the map was the Kaufmann house designed by the great and famous Richard Neutra. We had tried to find a few other famous houses on the tour before this one, but they were all up private drives and you could just barely get a glimpse of them nestled half way up the San Jacinto mountains. So I didn't get my hopes up of actually seeing the Kaufmann House.

Holy crap! It's right there on the street! We couldn't believe it. I've seen the house in books, and drooled over it many times, but to see it in person, I felt starstruck!

The landscaping is absolutely beautiful.

Edgar Kaufmann Sr. also hired Frank Lloyd Wright to design Fallingwater for him 10 years before (around 1936). He toyed with the idea of hiring him again for a West coast residence, but decided against it. He wanted something lighter and more luxurious than Fallingwater or, say, Taliesin West.

Both Fallingwater and the Kaufmann House utilize stone masonry and a percieved gentle weightlessness on the earth, but Neutra's philosophy is that his house is "made, not grown" a direct contradiction of Wright's ideals. I find it fascinating how two very different architects can have so many similarities in their work, yet be relatively opposite in their philosophy.

A great book to learn more about this amazing house and the rest of Neutra's work, I recommend Neutra by Barbara Lamprecht, part of the Taschen Basic Architecture Series ($10 on Amazon--buy a bunch of them!)

Seeing this house in person was amazing. Obviously, we just saw it from the driveway (there were small signs warning of an "armed response" to any trespassers), but to two modern architecture nerds, it was enough!

Actually, driving through this neighborhood (West Vista de Chino and surrounding), we saw a ton of super-amzing mid-century modern homes. We saw Elvis's Honeymoon House (actually a bit ugly) and tried to find The House of the Future, but our map proved to be flawed or very hard to follow in this particular instance.

In all, very much worth the $5 map!

Next up: Joshua Tree National Park