Archive for July, 2017

I have been having some fits with my container garden this year. Something, or someone, has been chomping away at my plants overnight – taking particular delight in biting anything that looks like it is going to be harvestable. At first I thought it was a pesky-looking chipmunk I saw hanging around a lot. Then I suspected a squirrel. I thought about the rabbits that hang out in my back yard – but they seem to be content with all the clover they can eat. Well, the other night, about dusk, I went out to watch the glorious show of lightning bugs that the prairie is noted for, and I saw the culprit – the ugliest possum I have ever seen (and that is pretty darn ugly) chomping away at an eggplant plant. He or she just stopped a moment to glance my way and then went back to chomping. Oh well. I am doing what I can to protect my garden. So far I have some success with tomatoes, beans, and have been enjoying a bumper crop of basil.


My container garden is in mid-summer flourish and seems to be well pollinated, thanks to the many bees that hang out in the clover in the back yard. However, many of the pollinators we depend on have been disappearing and that is scary. The fine folks at Modern Sprout are trying to help promote the planting of more flowers that attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbird with their Pollinator Push Garden collection.

About the Pollinator Push Garden from Modern Sprout: “Each Push Garden includes a curated selection of perennial wild flower seeds, nutrient rich grow medium, and instructions for planting a 1 sq. ft. garden patch. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds play an integral role in our food supply. These creatures are facing extinction, due to variables including modern agriculture practices and increased use of pesticides. The need to save our pollinators cannot be understated. Be a part of the solution and plant a garden today.”

In addition to giving you some nice wild flowers year after year, 10% of the proceeds from each sale of the Pollinator Push Garden will be donated to the Pollinator Partnership: “The Pollinator Partnership is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization and the largest in the world dedicated exclusively to the protection and promotion of pollinators and their ecosystems. To learn more about the organization and our pollinator crisis.”

Find the Pollinator Push Garden from Modern Sprout here.

See all the fun garden ideas from Modern Sprout here here.

Learn more about the Pollinator Partnership here.

FF: The Paris Vacation Banner from The Land of Nod

There is nothing like a little slice of Paris to brighten your wall – like the Paris Vacation Banner I found from the fine folks at The Land of Nod.

About the Paris Vacation Banner from The Land of Nod:

“We bet you didn’t know Parisians nicknamed the Eiffel Tower “the iron lady” (we had no clue either). This banner features a snapshot of the city awash with a rainbow filter. Designed exclusively for us by Alicia Bock.”

Find the Paris Vacation Banner from The Land of Nod here.

Check out all the cool finds from The Land of Nod here.

FF: The All Things Paris by Grace Fryock Graphic Art Print from Birch Lane

Meanwhile, the fine folks at Birch Lane have you covered with the All Things Paris by Grace Fryock Graphic Art Print.

About the All Things Paris by Grace Fryock Graphic Art Print from Birch Lane:

“This is a reproduction that features a sand texture finish. Print is mounted on a hardback board with different sections mounted at different heights giving the piece a 3-dimensional effect. Designed by Grace Feyock. Uttermost’s art combines premium quality materials with unique stylish design.”

Find the the All Things Paris by Grace Fryock Graphic Art Print from Birch Lane here.

Browse all the cool finds from Birch Lane here.

When most Americans hear the words “home furnishings” and “Sweden” in the same vicinity, thoughts quickly turn to global retail giant IKEA. Now I like IKEA well enough, but if you want something Swedish and of superior quality – you need to find niche vendors – like the fine folks at Nordic Knots, who design and hand craft the most lovely rugs around.

About Nordic Knots: “We wanted to bring something from our home to every home and we realized that at the center for every beautiful Swedish home is a good rug. Founded by Swedish family trio Liza Laserow, Fabian Berglund and Felix Berglund who joined forces in 2016 to follow their true passion for entrepreneurship, design and their home country. Together, they have created a family business with one simple goal. Make a better rug, with better design at a better price.”

I like the simplicity of Nordic Knots’s Plus design (above right): “This contemporary design has a minimalist aesthetic with an artistic touch. A great complement to the rest of your décor. This rug is skillfully hand woven in 100% high quality New Zealand wool for a soft feel that will last a lifetime. It is woven straight through so you can use both sides of the rug, should you need to.”

Learn more about Nordic Knots and see their collection of fine rugs here.

For many years now some friends and I have had a great idea for a book about dogs and their owners, but we have not gotten our act together to make it happen. The idea is not so different from Dogs and Their People from the fine folks behind Bark & Co, and BarkPost, which features great pictures and stories about, well, dogs and their people.

About Dogs and Their People by BarkPost: “Finally, Bark & Co. has tapped the humans at BarkPost, the company’s publishing arm, to put into words and photographs the first official BarkBook, capturing the depth, spirit, and power of the extraordinary bond between humans and their pups. Mostly community-sourced and filled with never-before-told anecdotes, stories, photos, and intimate insights, Dogs and Their People spotlights over 200 unique and remarkable dogs. Some are celebri-dogs while others are just making their debut; some will make your heart ache, while others will make it soar; and others simply look really dapper in color. All bring to life and celebrate the crazy, consuming, insatiable love we feel for the World’s Ultimate Best Friend in a book that is the perfect gift for Dog Lovers everywhere.”

Now if only I could get my act together to produce my book about dogs and their owners… In the meantime I am happy to let others do the work.

Dogs and Their People by BarkPost is available from Amazon and other fine book retailers.





I can’t even express how much joy the work of artist Jimmy Ellis brought to my heart when I spotted his Drinking Dogs collection a couple of weeks ago at the great Gold Coast Art Fair in Chicago. You can’t help but smile at the bright colors and cheeky smiles of these dogs as they hoist a glass of cheer.

Jimmy Ellis has a great selection of images available for sale in a variety of formats – and, if you like his style and sensibility – he will create a custom portrait of your favorite pooch.

About Jimmy Ellis Art:

“JimmyEllisArt is me, Jimmy Ellis, with my drawing pad doing these funny images. Many of you have seen me across the country at art festivals selling my creations. Using the website, you can order custom art made for you or popular already made gallery pieces showing your favorite furry friends at their funniest. I create the images using my drawing pad connected into my computer using various paint programs. All the images are hand drawn by me and I sign every piece.”

Learn more about artist Jimmy Ellis and his work here.

See a gallery of Jimmy Ellis’ Drinking Dog work here.

Visit Jimmy Ellis’ Drinking Dog Etsy shop here.

Today’s find is vintage Lost Cowboy – something old, lost, and found again to give it new life – the vintage postage from the fine folks at Underwood Letterpress.

About the Vintage Postage from Underwood Letterpress:

“Dress up your snail mail with vintage postage! Yes, you can actually put that eye candy on your envelope and pop it in to the mailbox. Unused postage never loses value and is accepted by the US Postal Service – even if it dates back to the 30’s like some of these beauties! The stamp set is inspired by the picture shown, however, each stamp set is unique and one of a kind.”

Now there may be some philatelists out there cringing at the thought of some hipster licking an old 5 cent stamp that is now worth millions – but I assume that is not the case and these stamps are pretty much just worth face value – which make them perfect to use to jazz up your most boring letters.

See the Vintage Postage from Underwood Letterpress here.

Check out all the cool ideas to “snail mail in style” from Underwood Letterpress here.

I snapped this pic with my iPhone last weekend while strolling the sculpture garden at the great Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. Not the best picture of the iconic Shuttlecocks installation by the artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen – but what a lovely setting. And yes, the sky was that blue and the grass was that green.

Today I am featuring a couple of artists whom caught my eye at the recent Gold Coast Art Fair in Chicago.

FF: Joe Smigielski Fine Art

I love the whimsy and skewed vision of Joe Smigielski’s original oil paintings and ink drawings.

Like the man walking his dog – his blue dog – against a cartoony Chicago skyline (right).

What I really like are Mr. Smigielski’s mini paintings – little works of art that are just 2.5 x 3.5 inches and sold framed or on a miniature easel.

I love it all.

Visit Joe Smigielski’s site here.

Visit Joe Smigielski’s Esty site here.

FF: The Studio 312

Meanwhile, the fine folks at Chicago’s The Studio 312 are producing some nice stuff, like the cool work of owner Tim Jarosz that re-imagines urban-scapes into stellar works of art. Like the fantastic Urban Perspective (right).

About The Studio 312: “The Studio 312 is a modern lifestyle and culture print gallery and studio located in Chicago. Owned and directed by artist/photographer Tim Jarosz, the studio’s core is rooted in print based photography, graphic design, illustration and street art. We specialize in dye sublimation printing techniques and pride ourselves on creating unique artwork on even more unique substrates.”

See more and learn more about The Studio 312 here.