r.i.p. eva zeisel, wonderful artist & ceramic designer

zeiselboat

My husband gave me (well, us) a wonderful gift for Christmas. A set of Eva Zeisel’s classic dishware to go with the gorgeous gravy boat and serving dish we already have. We’ve been coveting it for years, and have been making the splurge. It is so delicate and simple. Design at its purist.

This morning I read in The New York Times that she passed away, at the age of 105 (!) after a lifetime of doing what she loved and bring delightful objects into the world. We have written about our admiration for this remarkable woman and her work before.

Tonight, I’m going to serve some Swedish meatballs in this bowl, and toast the New Year in Eva’s honor. — Angela M.

Previous posts on Eva Zeisel:
A peek in Eva Zeisel’s studio

Ode Eva Zeisel

From our partners

want it now: le creuset mug

letcrusetmugs

Not sure why we have coffee mugs on the brain this week, but these colorful numbers from our favorite French stoneware company have got us swooning. If Santa didn’t bring you the $350 French oven you’ve been wanting, perhaps one of these $12 mugs will satisfy the itch for now. Featuring the same non-porous enamel finish as the company’s cookware, they are built to resist odors, staining, chipping, and cracking. Not to mention their heftiness will help keep your coffee warmer longer. Get one at Uncrate, $12.

From our partners

ready for the new year with a little tangerine tango

eamesorange

I love it when one of my style constants becomes a trend, like leopard print this season. That’s why I have a great feeling about 2012. One of my favorite colors — reddish orange — has already been declared color of the year by Pantone. They are calling it Tangerine Tango, but lucky for me it looks exactly like the color of the Eames Eiffel chairs we splurged on for our dining room last year. So for the next year our dining room will be THE place to be! Hooray. Imagine the fabulousness when I wear my new Jcrew Minnie pants in Vibrant flame and my Kat von T lipstick in A Go Go red. Yes, friends, I already have all these Tangerine Tango-ish shades at home. I am all set.

pantonemug
If you are not already a orange worshiper like myself, perhaps now is the time to start. I recommend picking up a Pantone color of the year mug, $25, and starting a new tradition. In just a few years, you’ll have yourself a vibrant set. — Angela

Will you be adding Tangerine Tango to your life? Let me know.

From our partners

on our holiday menu: christmas crackers!

crackers1

Once many years ago, I was fortunate enough to spend a Christmas in London. I fell in love with so many of their holiday meal traditions — roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, sticky toffee pudding for dessert, and of course, lots of booze. But the true secret to a happy holiday meal – no matter what kind of tense family dynamics may be present — is to give everyone a Christmas cracker. I’ve started seeing them in stores here in the U.S. (I love these from Pier 1) and have added them to our must-have list. Here’s how they work: Everyone gets a cracker on their plate, and at some point in the meal (I like to do it early on), each person takes a turn “challenging” the person sitting next to them. You have your neighbor pull one end of the cracker while you pull the other. Eventually the cracker tears open with a loud “pop” and out spills the goodies inside. Everyone gets a surprise toy, a joke and a paper crown hat. It’s really hard to be grumpy when everyone is wearing silly hats and reading corny jokes out loud. In England, Christmas Crackers are serious business. These ones at Harrods cost nearly $500 and come with silver “bling” inside. I’m happy with our plastic tops and paper hats.

What holiday traditions have you adopted? I’d love to hear about them. — Angela M.

From our partners

from beer bottle to beer glass, part one: ‘cutting with string’ fail

theburningbottle

If you enjoy beer as much as we do in our household, you probably share the love for microbrews. One of our favorite makers is Portland’s Hopworks Urban Brewery (or HUB), whose Abominable Winter Ale features art (by Martin Ontiveros) as cool as the beer is delicious. We love the Abominable so much, we’ve decided to keep him around by turning those empty bottles into snazzy drinking glasses.

Now, we’re pretty handy, but we don’t own a glass cutter, so of course I Googled for other ideas. I landed on this tutorial on cutting a bottle using string and acetone. As you may have gathered from the post headline, it was not a rousing success. It looks so easy in the video! What did we do wrong?

Step one: Tie a string around the bottle where you want the bottle to be cut.
Step two: Soak the string in nail polish remover (that’s the acetone — we used a small ramekin for this).
Step three: Place the string back on the bottle (wear gloves and keep the open acetone far away from you) and set the string on fire with a match; rotate bottle to distribute the fire. (I did the “one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand” counting thing for between counts of 12 and counts up to 20 and beyond while the string was on fire.)

coldsinkbottle

Step four: plunge the bottle into a sink filled with icy water and apply pressure to both ends of the bottle — voila! the bottle should cleanly snap at the string. Except in our case, when the bottle should do NOTHING AT ALL, not matter how many times you try.

First we tried cotton string: caught on fire, but bottle did not break.

Then we tried cotton yarn: soaked up more acetone, burned better, but bottle still did not break.

Then we tried several rows of cotton twine that looked more like what they use in other videos online): burned well. Burned for an entire minute. Bottle did not break.

These bottles bear mute testimony to how many times we tried:

bottlesdraining

Next step: Anyone have a glass cutter? — Mary T.

From our partners