San Jose del Cabo and my Otomi obsession

Youre never too old to go on spring break with the girls.

But this time, it wasnt about downing cocktails and waking up on the beach hungover with no recollection of the night before (not that Ive ever done that, no sir). 

The first time I went to Mexico with my girlfriends was in 2004. We were young, single (mostly), and carefree. Back then, the only place to be was Cabo San Lucas where the nightlife extended into the early mornings and tequila was consumed like water. Since then, weve been to Puerto Vallarta but it wasnt until this year that we decided we were due for a return visit to Cabo.

Because.

My last visit to Cabo was 2 years ago. It was a romantic trip organized by my now-hubby who surprised me with my family showing up a few days after we were there. We stayed in Los Cabos (otherwise known as the tourist corridor) which is a sign of growing up as it sits between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. When you stay closer to San Jose del Cabo, it means youre over the partying and gradually reaching senior citizen status.

Im only kidding, of course. San Jose is the more laid back and artsier sister to Cabo San Lucas so naturally, Ive been dying to see it.

The streets are lined with tourist shops and farmicias with the typical salesman luring unsuspecting tourists into their store traps, but its much more mellow than the experience in Cabo San Lucas.

..and wayyyyyy more charming.  I gasped when I approached this store.

Well, hello there beautiful textiles. Mamas heeeeere!

The store is called Silvermoon Folk Art Gallery. If youre ever in San Jose, GO. Do not collect $200; go straight there.

I was greeted by these lovelies upon entering.

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And then my body elevated off the ground and I saw my feet dangle beneath me.

Like a supernatural experience, I feasted my eyes on the most intricate pieces of Otomi embroidery. These are hand embroidered by the Otomi Indians in the Hidalgo region of Mexico (a little more east) and the patterns are inspired by cave drawings in the town of Tenango.

Mind. Blown.

When I regained consciousness, I picked up a couple of pillow cases and started to speak to the salesperson. She said to me $80 for 2. Pretty decent deal, I thought to myself. How about $60 for 2? (Im my mothers daughter and cant resist a bargain battle.) You want $30? We have a smaller pillow for $30. Sigh, here we go. Oh, but these are perfect, so how about $60 for 2? Im also buying that little dress for my sweet little bambina niece, so.

Long story short, I walked away paying $70 for my 2 throw pillow cases. I continue my reign as Bargainista Senorita.

Feeling satisfied with my bargaining prowess, we moved further into town and arrived in the main square where the Misión de San José del Cabo Anuiti appeared before us.

Founded by the Jesuits in 1730, it was reconstructed in 1918 after a hurricane. Most of the original structure is still in place, and its simplicity exudes a quiet beauty that is perfect for the town.

There was also a wedding in session, and we stood by as a few guests arrived on Mexican time to the ceremony.

I know, my timing couldnt have been more off with the last shot.

Needless to say, I fell in love with the quaint town of San Jose. Heres a view of the main square from the church.

Soul fed. Thirst for artsy fulfilled. Back to doing more touristy things, which meant a boat, a snorkel, and a paddle board.

Im on a boat!! Well, I was.

Im always a little careful when it comes to booking tours, especially anything involving a boat because of a) too many people and b) too many people. I dont like crowds and since this was spring break, AKA College Palooza, I felt even more leery. To my surprise, Cabo Adventures pulled through with a 4.5 hour cruise that included a snorkeling and stand-up paddle boarding excursion (a couple of my favorite things). So off we we went on an almost private charter (it was us girls and one other couple) to set sail in over-chartered waters to Santa Maria beach. We saw the usual suspects along the way.

including Lovers Beach and Divorce Beach. Never been fond of those names because of the over oozing cheese factor.

We even caught sight of a few whales migrating from the north. Of course, I wasnt quick enough to capture the majestic moments, but I did manage to sneak one passing by. See the little black spot?

The tour included a morning snack, open bar, and lunch. It wasnt cheap at $109 per person, but it was well worth it. The protected cove at Santa Maria beach delivered schools of puffer fish, Tang fish, and little yellow finned guys that I couldnt identify. We paddle boarded after snorkeling until the obnoxious jet skis showed up. I happily crawled back on the boat and enjoyed getting away from the noise and air pollution. Those things should be banned (said in curmudgeon tone).

Although it was a short get-away, I feel revived. Its amazing what a hot holiday can do for the soul, especially when spent with five of the most inspiring women I know.

Muy caliente.

DIY succulent wreath

‘Tis the season.

Actually, a living wreath is season-agnostic, me thinks.

So yeah, the holidays are here and I totally get the excitement one can feel for snazzifying one’s abode during this time of the year. Against my better hoarding instincts, I tend to err on the side of minimalism but I do enjoy festive sprays of greens around the house. (Check this post about DIY Paper Lanterns out of Furniture Catalogue)

And what better way to validate my succulent hoarding habits than to actually put them to use!

Oh it’s beyond out of control.

But the wreath? The wreath is easy.

1. Cut your clippings. You might need to pull off some leaves around the stems to allow them to burrow into the wreath body, but you know those little suckers will likely sprout offspring, because that’s how succulents roll.

You’ll need a lot of them. I arranged mine into a faux wreath to determine the volume.

Sing with me: “I fell into a blooming ring of cacti” That’s how the song went. Johnny Cash isn’t around anymore so he can’t argue…

2. Get some moss. The long fibered kind.

I bought mine from my favorite hardware store ever, Cole Hardware. It was $6 for the bag, which contains 432 cubic inches, enough to create a moss universe. Cole Hardware is awesome because their window displays are divine. Check this out:

Back to the wreath…

3. Soak about 1/3 of the bag in water for a few minutes. Get out your wreath frame. I saved mine from an evergreen wreath we bought last year, but the frames are cheap and can be found everywhere.

4. Start bunching gobs of moss together and arranging them on the frame. The more moss you use and the tighter you pack your moss, the better it’ll be for your clippings to hold together. 

Warning: the next four photos suck because I have to do this after work hours and it gets SO dark SO early these days. Apologies…

5. Secure the moss by wrapping floral tape around and around until you come full circle. Warning: it gets VERY messy mossy.

Told ya the photos were bad. Sawwy.

6. Start shoving and pushing your clippings into the moss. You can use a chopstick to make holes for the stems.

7. Secure the stems in place with about 4 inch long pieces of wire bent in half.

8. Keep going until you come full circle.

9. Lay your wreath flat for a couple of days to let the moss dry out and stick together.

10. Hang your wreath and feel like a BOSS for creating such a masterpiece each time you look at it.

If that doesn’t get you hot for the holidays, I’m not sure what will.

Ho ho ho.

Paper lanterns out of furniture catalogs

A few weeks ago, we received what I thought were multiple copies of telephone books delivered to our door. Turns out, it was a home furnishings giant that went full on cray cray with their catalogs. “WTF?” I thought to myself. “Do something about it!” my alter ego responded.

So I DIY’d.

When you get something so absurd in this day and age, you wonder about the desperation of the company behind it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love catalogs and magazines and eye candy that produce salivation and “gotta have it” angst, but this is REDONC. I did some research and found various sources citing the retailer as taking a more “green” approach to catalog production. Instead of the Vicky’s Secret once-every-few-days assault on consumers with their propaganda, they are choosing to send out their encyclopedias once a year. They also refer to them as “source books” instead of catalogs, offering customers eye candy categorized by bath, lighting, accessories, and so on.

To that I say, let’s find another use for said source books in the form of my favorite past time.

Today’s DIY is brought to you by the folks at Restoration Hardware.

I made some paper lanterns out of my stash because lanterns are fun and romantic and can be used in most settings.

I first used a paper cutter to cut 1 inch strips of the catalog’s front page (one of the 8 catalogs).

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I cut 2 pieces of equal (well, almost) size from a toilet roll.

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I then glued the strips to each piece.

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After the glue dried completely, I compressed the lantern to form a bubble shape.

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Voila!

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It takes under an hour if you count drying time for the glue. The actual labor takes about 15 minutes.

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Another easy method is to cut lines within a full sheet. Start by drawing a line 1 inch in from each edge of the sheet (do it on the opposite side), then draw lines about 1/2 inch apart.

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Turn the sheet over after cutting the slits and glue each edge together.

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Compress the lantern to form a bubble.

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Light ’em up!

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Definitely less time than it takes to do my hair in the morning.

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Obviously, you can use any type of paper to do this. I typically have a preference for bright colors, but I couldn’t NOT use what was sitting in my entryway begging for a transformation.

Catalog faith almost restored.

PS – there’s a way to unsubscribe to the mailing list (unless, of course, you’re DIY’ing to try out my lantern project). I can’t attest to whether or not this really stops the madness, but it’s worth a try. Click here to give it a shot and please let me know if anyone has unsubscribed successfully.

 

Night at the museum

When it comes to Mid-century modernism, I was an early convert. Last night, I was treated to some major design porn at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (“Jewseum” if you use their Twitter handle) here in San Francisco. It was my first time there, and I’m not sure why I waited this long.

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The exhibit is called “Designing Home: Jews and Midcentury Modernism” and runs through October 6, 2014 (so there’s still time for y’all to see it).

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It highlights the roles of Jewish architects and designers in the post-WWII creation of a distinctly modern American domestic landscape. My brother is a designer and part of the Visual Media Alliance who put a special evening together that included a guided tour and talk by award-winning Bay Area designer Kit Hinrichs. Bro and I share a common love for all things Mid-century modern so we were like kids in a candy store bordering on diabetic fits during our visit.

I wanted to hoard EVERYTHING but sadly, you can’t do that at a museum.

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The wake of anti-semitism and post-war population boom offered an unprecedented flourishing of opportunities for Jews. Acceptance and integration into American culture followed shortly. Throughout the museum floor, you see contributions of both well-known designers and architects, including many Bauhaus graduates. Among them…

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I had NO IDEA that Breuer was Jewish. We sold a decent amount of his furniture at Chairish.

Here’s another famous piece from a design great I’ve admired since I was a wee lass.

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Not Anni Albers as indicated (they had interesting placements of attributions for some reason) but George Nelson, whose very popular bubble lamp hangs in our dining room (and those of countless others).

Here are Anni’s beautiful weavings.

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I learned about Pond Farm, an artist colony right here in the Bay Area (Guerneville) that started in the 40’s and ran until the 80’s.

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There were eye bonerz textile pieces, including works by Ruth Adler Schnee who studied with Paul Klee in the early years.

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My favorite Schnee piece, entitled “Backgammon,” a screen printed cotton warp and cotton and mohair weft:

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My weaving urges intensified with this piece by Trude Guermonprez.

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Beautiful and minimalist pottery by Marguerite Wildenhain, also a Bauhaus graduate who spent time at Pond Farm.

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Stunning wallpaper by illustrator Saul Steinberg.

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And then there are the graphic design greats, like Saul Bass, whose works include movie posters like “Anatomy of a Murder.”

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Whimsical vinyl covers…

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….and logos.  Can you recognize any of these?

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These were designed by three of the most brilliant graphic designers in our lifetime: Saul Bass, Louis Danziger, and Paul Rand.

The evening ended with a talk by Kit Hinrichs. When I sat down in the audience and saw him approach the podium, I realized that he was the man in the first photo I took outside the museum.

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I quickly walked up to him and showed him the shot. He laughed and said, “Oh that was you” and handed me his card when I told him I would send him the picture. Lucky timing.

Perhaps you know this logo:

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He talked about the works of Paul Rand (famous for the IBM logo, among a host of others) and graphic design luninaries who influenced him throughout his career.

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His message  to the design community was clear. He encouraged them to be bold, take risks, and incorporate humor into their work.

So be it, Kit. I’m no designer, but this is how I like to live my life.

 

Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94703

Hours
Open daily except Wednesdays
11:00 am to 5:00 pm
Thursdays
11:00 am to 8:00 pm

Tip: Free First Tuesdays
Free admission on July 21, August 5, and September 2

The Midcentury Modernism exhibit runs through October 6, 2014.

DIY potato-stamped pineapple tote

Pineapples are the new cherries.

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Remember when cherries were everywhere? I still love any cherry-clad product because they’re just aesthetically sweet (not to mention great to eat), but pineapples are all the rage right now. I’m also jonesing for a tropical/beach vacation, so today’s DIY is all about bringing a little perma-cation into our lives with a cute little tote that’s easy as A-B-C. I’ll be using a potato stamp because it’s cheap and accessible, and I remember having hours of fun with potato stamps as a child.

You will need:

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  1. A plain canvas tote (there’s an abundance of them online; I used one that I had in my closet)
  2. Fabric paint in yellow and green
  3. 1 potato (2 potato, 3 potato, 4….you only need 1 but I had to do the chant)
  4. Sharp knife

Wash the tote before you stamp on it so it takes the paint more easily. Iron it to create a smooth and even surface.

Carving

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  1. Slice off two pieces, about 2 inches thick. One will be used for the pineapple body; the other for the leaves.
  2. Using the knife, cut diagonal lines to form the pattern of the pineapple body on one of the slices. Diagonally cut the lines as shown in the diagram.
  3. The leaf is a little trickier. I free styled it, but I would suggest using a marker and outlining the shape, then carving around it. Potatoes are easy to carve, just do it one section at a time.

Stamping

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  1. Dip the stamps in paint and try stamping on paper first. You can plan out pattern arrangements on paper as well.
  2. Slide a piece of cardboard into the bag so that the paint doesn’t seep through to the other side.
  3. Stamp your tote. First stamp the body of the pineapple, followed by the leaves.

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Apply the paint evenly to the stamp. I used a bamboo skewer. Use the sharp point of the skewer to remove access paint from the crevasses that form the lines of the pineapple or they’ll be filled in when you stamp.

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Use light but firm pressure. Make sure your potato is as dry as possible before you stamp. If not, check out the pineapple at the bottom….

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(and cue the Pixies song “I Bleed”)…..the leaves bled because of the water. Blotting with a paper towel will help avoid the “oh sh*t!” moment that I had. Thankfully, the next tote will be bleed free.

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Allow the paint to dry for 4 hours.

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You’re now vacation-ready!

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Estimated Cost

  • Tote: $2
  • Paint: $4
  • Potato: .50 cents

Total: $6.50

Estimated Time

Not including wash/prep and drying of the tote, 30 minutes.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to succumb to my sudden craving for piña coladas.