Welcome to our blog, “Bringing Design Home”. It’s here you’ll catch regular glimpses into our design process, our garden and landscape developments, our industrial design experiments, along with our daily life and silly mistakes. We have started this journey as scientists ultimately with a belief in a truth of freedom and a hope that by living the experiment we can prove it. Welcome to our adventure.
We felt it this past week when we had some friends and their three kids come stay with us. It was a week full of adventure and outdoor fun. A sorta mini spring break in our 1,000 square foot farm house. It was a bit crazy, but I think the best memories are made when you simply enjoy living life together. Especially when you are a kid, vacations don’t have to be fancy! Sometimes just changing up your day-to-day routine can feel like a little getaway.
What are some of your favorite childhood spring break memories?
I’ve been holding this design hostage for a while, while we waited (anxiously) for the big day. Some of our dear friends are having a little girl and we got to design the wedding invitations for their shower. The theme was one of the coolest ones we’ve seen in a long time (besides our shower of course!). It was such a joy to be able to shower them with love and be a part of welcoming little Miss. Wiggles (her name remains a mystery!) into this world with love, gifts, and lots of tiny summer outfits (I seriously CANNOT STOP buying stuff for this little girl)!
It was couples shower so instead of playing cheesy games there were fun activities for the whole family! Included was an “As You Wish” decorate onesies craft corner, an “Inconceivable Sundae Bar”, a photobooth with a life size tree (that we had to cut down with a chainsaw just to get in the door), Iocane Powder(Pixie Sticks), a “Cliffs of Insanity” Cookie Cake, Grilled “R.O.U.S.” (chicken strips), along with the movie being projected on the wall. Believe it or not there were actually people who attended who had never seen the movie! Good thing we were able to educate them before baby Wiggles gets here.
Thanks to Karen and Kerry (the brains behind the operation) the shower was a smashing hit and one we will never forget! It has been so fun walking out this next phase of our life (parenthood) with some of our dearest friends.
Maybe someday their baby Buttercup will be calling our little man her “Farm Boy“.
There is nothing quite so luxurious as smoking a pipe. It’s a James Bond; “shaken not stirred,” type statement. I know who I am and what I’m about, that I can state it casually. To me pipes are about an image, enjoyment, relaxation and fun. That’s why I smoke one, and that’s why I would recommend it to any man or woman that wants to try something new, something from a bygone age.
I started dreaming of smoking a pipe in the second year of our marriage. I would watch old Humphrey Bogart movies and Cary Grant films and the desire to know that time, to have Sean Connery’s accent, Cary Grants humor and Bogart’s sex appeal. But I settled for a pipe, and it was one of the greatest choices I’ve made.
The basic startup items for a novice pipe smoker are…
Accessories to help with that first experience
I recommend buying a second hand pipe, or if you have a pipe smoker you know possibly borrowing or buying one from them. There are many advantages to buying used vs. new pipes as a beginner.
First, used pipes are already broken in, or tempered. A new pipe will need to be cared for more specifically and your flavor and quality of smoke can be affected if not done properly.
Secondly second hand pipes are cheaper, money isn’t the only consideration but it is one nonetheless, why spend $50 – $300 on a new pipe when you can pick up a used one for $10-$30 and determine if pipe smoking is right for you.
My first pipe was a second hand pipe from an antique shop; I still smoke it and love it today. Here are a few links to great places to purchase new and second hand pipes…
THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN A PIPE
A few things to know when buying second hand pipes, these may seem obvious but need to be watched when picking out a good used pipe. None of the new pipes should have these defects and if they do, send it back immediately.
Cracks or large chips in the stem or bowl
Used or baked on tobacco in the bowl, this means that pipe was probably not well cared for and it may just need cleaning. But I find it nasty and unprofessional to sell a used pipe without cleaning it.
Broken or cracked stem, heavy bite marks or disfiguration of the stem
Finally, you should be able to pull the stem and bowl apart and look inside for cleanliness, a filter, and any cracks or broken edges
Not all pipes will have filters, neither of my two favorite pipes do. Other things to look for in a pipe are.
The fit, how it fits in your hand and how comfortable you feel with it in the smoking position
Style, this is completely up to you, I tend to like Dublin and Billiard shaped pipes see the image below from the Pipe Rack for shapes and styles
Draw, the pipe should have a good draw; which means a good flow of air when puffed
Again, pipes are a statement of who you are and what you like. So picking one is like picking a good hat or that perfect pair of boots it takes time and thought. But when you find it, it’s yours and only yours and you’ll tell stories about your first pipe and how you found it. Now that I’ve got you searching the Internet for pipes and defining your style, let’s talk tobacco.
TOBACCO TYPES AND QUALITIES
The second key ingredient to a good smoke is your tobacco. This is one of those areas where a little trial and error comes in. Each person likes different flavors and different types of tobacco. From very rich dark flavors to light and fruity flavors tobacco is much to the taste and like of the smoker, so here are some basic types and descriptions for your reference in picking a tobacco, or tobacco blend. Keep in mind most tobacco you find in the shops is a blend of two or more of these tobaccos with possible additional flavors added.
Virginia: one of the basic tobacco types used in most blends, it ranges from a light yellow color to medium brown. The lighter colors tend to have a spicy flavor while the darker colors tend to have a deeper more complex taste.
Burley: the opposite of a Virginia in its oils and sugar ratio, being high oil low sugar. Burleys tend to have a nutty flavor.
Carolina: similar to a Virginia but not as rich, a more diluted tobacco.
Maryland: A mild tobacco, used often in blends.
Orientals/Turkish: A broad group of tobacco’s used to “spice up” a blend, and are often quite fragrant.
This is a simple list there are others and some non-tobacco elements that are used as well. A great way to learn about tobaccos and to start to develop a personal preference is to try them out, spend time in your local tobacco shop talking to the owner and other pipe enthusiasts, you’ll learn a lot and possibly make a few friends in the process.
Smoking a pipe as I said before is making a statement, it’s about taking time to think and to listen and so don’t expect to smoke your first pipe in 10 minutes. Grab a beer or a manly cocktail, and settle down in your favorite chair, it’s time to enjoy your pipe.
Step 1.Filling the bowl of the pipe. This is the hardest part, but has the most affect on the rest of your smoking experience. Fill the bowl loosely with tobacco and press or pack it lightly with the tamper. The tobacco should compress half way down the bowl. Fill again to the top and pack with the tamper once again, more firmly this time. Now the bowl of your pipe is about ¾ full of tobacco. Finally top of the pipe with a last layer of tobacco and pack it with the tamper, there should only be a small space between the top of the bowl and the tobacco.
Step 2. Testing the pack. Put the pipe to your mouth and draw through it as if smoking. Don’t light the pipe yet. If the air is flowing freely through the tobacco and pipe then your pack is ready to light. If the air is not flowing freely and it’s difficult to draw on the pipe then empty your pipe and re-pack using less pressure with each tamping this time.
Step 3.To light your pipe, use a wooden match or pipe lighter. I like matches, they have a style that I enjoy, more old fashioned. But a lighter works just as well. If using a match let it burn for a second after striking to let the sulphur burn away. Then gently draw on the pipe while moving the match in a circular motion over the surface of the tobacco. You want an even and complete lighting of the top layer of tobacco. Some will tell you to let this first lighting go out, they call this the false light. When breaking in a pipe I follow this rule, but on my older pipes I often get a good light and just let it smolder for a moment, then start puffing.
Step 4.Smoking your pipe is leisurely, and slow. Slow steady puffs, this is not a race it’s a casual stroll with friends. A good comment to make here is that tobacco smoke similar to cigar smoke is not to be inhaled like a cigarette. These tobaccos are stronger and blended more for flavor and enjoyment, so bring the smoke into your mouth taste it, like wine rolling it on your tongue and then release it into the air.
Smoking your pipe should take 30-45 minutes at least, and enjoying it should add even a little more time. So don’t hurry the worst thing a beginner pipe smoker does is smoke 3 bowl full’s of tobacco in an hour and wonder why your head is hurting and your tongue is burning. Slow and steady is the proper and most enjoyable way to smoke a pipe.
WHAT I WISH SOMEONE HAD TOLD ME
The pipe is going to go out, especially as your getting started and learning the feel of packing and lighting. You’ll get halfway through a bowl and realize your just sucking air, not a problem follow step 3 and keep going.
The pipe get’s too hot for your hand, let it go out, and give it a second relight and keep smoking.
If the pipe starts getting wet, or gurgling, you start to get tobacco juice in your mouth or any combination of these means that there is too much moisture in the stem of the pipe. Take a pipe cleaner and run it into the stem and let is draw out the moisture for a second or two. Try and keep your mouth dry while smoking to keep this from happening.
When finished smoking, let the pipe cool before cleaning. Never “knock” a pipe out into your hand or on a hard surface. This can lead to stress fractures in the pipe bowl and stem, which will affect the draw and eventually may crack the pipe completely, rendering it unusable.
I hope this helps those who might be interested in smoking a pipe to get started, and for others maybe it was just a fun read. I’m by no means an expert in pipes or tobacco’s and smoking is something I enjoy but it’s not for everyone. So here are a list of links that helped me get started and which informed this post and it’s images.
Where Cale is. Where James (our baby) is. Where I rest. Where I feel safe. Where I feel sexy all day without makeup and my smelly pj’s, Where Josie (our dog) snores, where it smells like home cooking, where the sun comes in from the window just so and time stands still, where God speaks to me, where God sings to me, where I dance like no one is watching, where I sing loudly, where I eat more chocolate chip cookies than I should (there is always room for ONE more), where I keep all my clothes, where my family and friends come to find rest, where I cook all my favorite meals, where plum is my favorite color (at least for this season), where my heart is full, I can hide, I can be me, and I can figure out me.
Home holds all of my favorite things.
We recently had another old fashioned creative weekend with some of our dearest friends. Armed with old school pen and paper we doodled, dreamed, then dreamed even bigger of our life and what we really want out of it. In that place of dreaming we kept coming back to our personal definitions of home.
For me, home is a place where we get to do collaborations from our hearts, heads and hands.
A place that celebrates heritage, legacy, and all things local.
Our brains have been thinking a lot about chickens. You can say we are a bit obsessed. For the past year we’ve been debating on when, how, and where. Finally, this spring we are excited to announce that we are getting chickens! I don’t think they will ever be as beautiful as the ones pictured in this pretty chicken project by Tamara Staples. I’m sure our new chicken adventures will leave us with much more respect for the award winning chicken sub-culture than we ever expected!
Tamara Staples, a commercial photographer, started her career as a prop stylist for print and television. Her daytime job is obviously much more “urban” (checkout her still life photos!) but she has managed to find time to pursue more personal projects as well. As a little girl she found her love for chickens while visiting her Uncle Ron, a chicken breeder in Athens, GA. It took her nearly four years of traveling to award shows in the Midwest before she could publish her first photography book in 2001; The Fairest Fowl: Portraits of Championship Chickens.
Now with the release of her second chicken book, The Magnificent Chicken, Tamara has done it again and nearly left us all awe-struck over these awkward and yet beautiful creatures.
Tamera recalls her first visit at a poultry show 20 years ago;
“I remember stepping inside and being blown away by the birds,” Staples recounted. “They were gorgeous! And the show itself—the people, the smell, the sounds, the camaraderie of the shows and the beauty of the birds—who knew there were so many varieties of chickens beyond what you think about when they’re on your dinner plate?” - Tamara Staples | Slate
“Poultry shows exist all over this country. They are amazing organizations. There, you will find generations of families involved in the upkeep and competition of the birds, working together in a city folk’s dream of the country. When you look at these photographs, you may see a beautiful bird, you may see a proud chicken, and you may even be able to marvel at the colors or patterns that make each bird unique. What I wish you could see is the passionate 12-year-old boy, getting up before school, before daylight, no matter the weather, and making sure his birds made it through the cold night as he waters and feeds them. And now imagine his grandfather, who’s been raising and showing his birds since he was a child, carefully holding a newborn chick, imparting years of wisdom to his grandson. Imagine the family at the poultry show, as the ribbons are distributed and whether victory or defeat, all lifelong lessons.” - Tamara Staples | Chronicle Books Blog
“These chickens are works of art. They’ve been breed to a perfection by serious, passionate and life long breeders. They are the outcome of their great, great grand chickens, carefully raised to be the competitive bird you see here.” - Tamara Staples | Chronicle Books Blog
In 2003 she was featured on NPR’s hit series “This American Life”. Take a listen for a behind the scenes look at the fine art of chicken portraiture.
Every once in a while we come along a project that sorta stops us in our tracks. Our Everyday Design Series is a place to highlight creatives who create art and design out of things we normally take for granted. Sometimes the greatest ideas are found when we actually slow down and take the time to reminisce on the things we truly love.
Are you seeing little green things poking through the ground? I’ve got spinach and carrots and crazy enough garlic coming up! You usually plant garlic in the fall, but if you are more of a tomato’s and peppers kinda person you’ve got a little time yet before planting season begins. Most veggies, in Oklahoma, will go in around the end of March, first of April. Check your local planting guides to find out proper planting times for your area. Now let’s get down to it!
With having our first baby boy born last September it’s been a year full of firsts. The first bath, changing our first REAL poopy diaper, the first time he rolled off the bed and onto the floor (don’t tell me this hasn’t happened to you!?), the first time we let him cry himself to sleep (kill me now), the first time he smiled, laughed, or sucked on his tiny big toe.
These are moments we all grow sick of when we read them over and over again from friends and family posting on Facebook; but, when it’s YOUR baby… Oh my, how different it is! Read More…
It’s snowing and I’m excited, not for the normal reasons, like a day off (didn’t get one), or snow angels, or snow ice cream. No, the reason I’m excited is that snow equals moisture and moisture equals growing, and due to some very awesome people at Territorial Seed Company my garden is three steps ahead and no going back.
Garden planning is one of the hardest things for me to do. I love gardening but I’m the type of person who moves in the moment. When the sun comes out I don’t need a jacket anymore, I’m ready to play in the dirt (a.k.a. garden). The problem with this is that I’m always working to catch up (so it seems) and even as I present my Garden Checklist for the month I’m wondering how I’m going to get it all done!? Then I stumbled upon this wonderful digitized and computerized garden planning tool from Territorial Seed Company. I order seeds from them occasionally, and I love looking through their catalog, but what’s won me over is this little jewel.
It’s a simple subscription style online garden planning software that allows you to layout your garden, draftsman style. With actual dimensions, specific pathways, and an overall look you can see our raised bed layout (below) as it looks after the drawing and planting schedule was complete.
Then you add plants! They have a full range of basic plant types and blanks for you to create your own from the seed packet information you have on hand (or look up specific plants online). You can work in standard row gardening formats or as I’ve chosen to do this year try out the Square Foot Gardening Method.
Within each square you can see the number of seeds that need to be planted for that specific plant and how much space it might take up. As you can see (below), some of my zucchini squash and butternut squash didn’t fit the square foot so it’s been planted in rows shown by the pink cloud under the image. When you plant in the row format the number of plants/seeds is shown by the number of vegetable icons present in each row. As you can see with my squash rows they are intermingled with tomatoes, cucumbers and beans. I’ve dedicated approximately 2 squash plants per row.
The last saying in our Valentine’s Day Wallpaper Series is one of our personal favorites. When life seems to hit us hard and we are going through a rough patch we always say;
“Take my hand, let’s get outta here.”
As long as we have each other and our hearts are in a good place between the two of us, we can take on anything. The saying reminds us that regardless of how big the task may seem, there is an end in sight, this is just ONE season of our marriage, and it won’t be like this forever.