January 31, 2012

Song of the Week: Sweet Darlin' – She & Him

January 23, 2012

Happy Lunar New Year!

January 12, 2012

Hanging Out with Aesthetic Apparatus

Today was just a continuation of yesterday's awesomeness when we decided to drop in on the guys at Aesthetic Apparatus.

As you enter the space, the entire front of the studio is a shop where you can buy any of their goodies. It's entirely open to the public but they recommend calling ahead of time just to make sure they're in.

It's hard to believe that they're just a three man team made up of Dan Ibarra, Michael Byzewski, and Jonathan Schuster. Dan hung out with us while Michael was getting ready for their client meeting at 3PM and Jonathan was in the studio doing some prints. We asked Dan about his thoughts on the design community in Minneapolis. He talked about the how it's not too small but not too big. It's just the right size which is why it's very close-knit. 

They're a very humble studio. And they'll have a conversation with you almost like an old friend. While talking with Dan, it's very easy to forget about all the awards they've won and all their big-name clients. Dan was telling us a bit about how sometimes they don't know what clients want from them anymore. Are they graphic design? Or are they printmaking? (And this is all while I'm staring at their D&AD Award on the shelf.) 

Aesthetic Apparatus is also fueled by Dogwood Coffee. Anyone else noticing a trend here? They recently worked on some mugs for Dogwood and got some coffee & appliances in exchange. According to Dan,"The guy at Dogwood takes his coffee seriously. He even gave us a scale so we can weigh our beans to the exact weight for brewing." 

After talking up a storm about Dogwood, Dan led us into the studio where all the messy magic happens. Now this is the kind of messy printmaking studio we're used to! The space is actually a lot smaller than I expected. But it explains why the three of them work just perfectly!

Dan let us take a little peek at what they're currently working on. Every year (for the past 3 years), they print limited edition Chinese New Year labels for Andrews & Dunham tea. So here's the Year of the Dragon:

Before they sent us on our way, we stood around for another 10 – 15 minutes talking about food. We mentioned how we went to both 5-8 Club and Matt's Bar for juicy lucys/jucy lucys. They asked us which was our fave, and our vote was for Matt's. Dan then responded, "Good. Looks like you chose the right team." The Aesthetic Apparatus guys also favor Matt's and then suggested we take a trip to the Triple Rock Social Club for the Cook's Revenge. Your only choices are Meat or Vegetarian and you essentially have no clue what you're going to get. But Dan reassured us that 95% of the time, you will get something awesome.

My only regret about this studio visit: not taking a picture of this 400 lb. matador lamp that Dan had transferred from his home to the studio. That matador had a look of serious business on his face as he has kept bulls away from the studio. 

Dan, Michael, and Jonathan are quite possibly the nicest & coolest guys I've ever met. Next time you're in Minneapolis, I definitely recommend giving them a call and stopping by.

Special thanks to them for letting us distract them from work!

This Old Gem

Earlier this evening I decided to log into my StumbleUpon account after abandoning it for over a year. One of my favorite things saved was this photo of Leonard Nimoy as Spock with a Buick Riviera.

January 11, 2012

An Afternoon with Studio On Fire

While in Minneapolis, I thought to myself "Which studios would I like to see?" and more importantly, "Who wouldn't mind having us?" I contacted Studio On Fire since I was in Gallery Nucleus' Illustrated Type show with them last May. Ben Levitz, the Principal & Design Director, warmly welcomed us into the shop. 

Upon entering, there's an entire corner to the left that exhibits samples of (almost) all of their work from over the years.

The sample wall

Business cards
The Chandler & Price that started it all…
Ben first started off with just this one pedal-powered C&P. Today, the shop is made up of 13 employees including a crew whose sole responsibility is to keep the presses well-oiled and maintained.

Quite possibly the cleanest printshop I've ever seen.
Not only do they do letterpress printing in-house, they also die-cut and make plates in-house. They also use paper stocks from a local distributor. I just love how everything is done in-house and all their supplies are from local suppliers. Also coincidentally, the entire staff of Studio On Fire is fueled by Dogwood Coffee. Ben just happens to be friends with the folks at Dogwood and Studio On Fire printed their packaging. 

If you own one of their larger prints, it was printed on one of these Heidelbergs. They don't just have one…they have two of these in the shop. Fortunately for them, they know a local mechanic (who has over 30 years of experience with Heidelberg presses) who checks on their presses at least once a year. 

More sample work

The folks over at Studio On Fire are just so much fun to hang out with. And they're always doing such awesome work!

Special thanks to Ben & the crew for having us! You can see what they're up to these days over at Beast Pieces.

January 10, 2012

Things I've Purchased (So Far)

My brother's apartment is by far the most poorly lit living space I've ever been in. The most well lit place in his entire apartment is the tiny hallway where two closets connect the master bedroom to the master bathroom. (So I apologize for the bad photo.)

I've been enjoying myself in Minneapolis and have been shopping way more than I had originally planned. I've mostly been buying paper goods because I love writing and as part of my New Year's Resolution I vowed to do more of it.

L—R, Top—Bottom:

Raccoon Finger Puppet from Wild Rumpus – I loved that they had their three pet manx cats roaming the store and they were really sweet & friendly. I wasn't as excited as Kevin was about their two pet chickens roaming around the store. They also had ferrets, chinchillas, a tarantula, and other pets (but in confined quarters, not roaming). I have every intention of stuffing this thing with catnip and giving it to Sebastian.

3-Tier Plastic Tray from Patina – It was on sale for $7.50! And I can never have enough organizing stuff.

5 Balls of St. Denis Yarn in Tomato Red from Linden Hills Yarn – I'm just totally obsessed with Tomato Red right now! And it's 100% wool which means whatever I make will be warm. I think I'll make myself a nice cowl.

Delfonics Wood Pen from Russell + Hazel – These write really smooth, feel great in the hand, and just look really cool. They're also available at Kinokuniya back home (which is where I first saw it), but didn't cave in to getting one until I was over here.

Thomas Paul Camera Case from Honeyshine – I've been looking for a cute little camera case for my Canon S90 for when I don't want to use the leather sling case thing that it came with. And I thought this was totally cute. And why not support small business and fellow makers while I'm at it!

Knock Knock Deal With This Stamp from Patina – This was a little gift to myself to make me smile & laugh about all the things that need to get done.

Izola SALUT! Flask from Honeyshine – I'm sorry, this photo sucks. You can see better photo of it here from Izola's website.

Ron Weasley Keychain from the LEGO Store at Mall of America – I didn't know until I got home that you can turn his hair to reveal different facial expressions: Happy Ron or OMG-FREAKED-OUT Ron.

Number Notebook from Patina – I can never have enough notebooks. And I love numbers…so yeah.

Good Luck Card from Paperista – It's a cute little paper shop although I think their selection isn't as great as Twig & Fig in Berkeley. This card is a "Good Luck with the next chapter of your life" kind of card. I like to stock pile cards because you never know when the right occasion might arise.

Russell + Hazel Big Idea Adhesive Notes from Russell + Hazel – These are essentially beautifully designed oversized post-its and they're actually made from/by Post-it. They have a top box to jot things down and a small rectangle at the bottom for your to-do list.

Rifle Paper Co. Get It Done! Notepad from Minneapolis Institute of Arts – I love Rifle! I've just never purchased anything by them because I don't like paying shipping on ordering paper goods. Luckily, I've been finding their stuff all over this city…although they're a Florida-based studio.

Melody Miller for Kokka Transister Radio Fabric from Crafty Planet – I love the selection of fabric, yarn, and fiber out here! I wish we could get some of this stuff back home.

I'm pretty sure I'm done with shopping, but considering I'm making a trip to Walker on Thursday who knows what else I might buy. I don't even want to begin to think about how I'm packing all this stuff up.

More Coffee, Please

Ever since my trip to San Francisco last month, I've been in love with small independent coffee roasters. I was never really much of a coffee drinker, tea is definitely more my thing. But the characteristics of coffee from smaller roasters remind me very much of tea and that's what got me hooked!

We were roaming around the Calhoun neighborhood of Minneapolis today when we came across the Dogwood Coffee Bar (we'll probably stop by a regular full-size location sometime later). Their coffee was really good, but probably second best to Spyhouse so far. Dogwood is a Minneapolis-based roaster and serves up their beans whereas Spyhouse uses beans from California and Portland roasters. But my absolute fav is still the San Francisco-based Blue Bottle Coffee.

January 9, 2012

Too Much Food/Day 2

We started off the day by going to Cracker Barrel for brunch/lunch(whatever the first meal of the day is called when you wake up late). Kevin has been super excited to go since we got here, I would almost say "too" excited. I ordered the country fried steak and waitress then asked, "What would you like for your 3 sides?" The look on my face was an expression of "Wait…what?!" Apparently, I read the menu wrong and thought I was to choose 1 of 3 sides. But in actuality, I was supposed to pick 3 from a list of 14 sides. So I got mac n' cheese, mashed potatoes, and dumplins…all fairly basic sides. But I didn't realize until the food came out that I had all carbs/starches for my sides AND my meal came with a biscuit and cornbread. At least I could say that it was good. I originally had no intention on going to the Mall of America on this trip, but after a meal like this one I definitely needed to walk it off.

(At some point between that and this we went to the U of M, Weisman Museum, and Dinkytown, which proved to be a total bust.)

And of course the fatty fest didn't end there. 

When we had just about enough of the Mall of America, it was dinner time! So we headed over to The 5 – 8 Club for some Juicy Lucys. And it was a bit of an ordeal to get to because it's near Lake Nokomis which made us drive in a huge circle to get to it. But once we got there, I ordered a basic Juicy Lucy with American cheese. It's a half pound burger with oozing cheese in the middle. And it totally didn't disappoint! And it's definitely not recommended for anyone on a diet.

January 8, 2012

Sunday Signage

Unlike yesterday, we didn't really have a plan today. We sorta just wandered about. We headed over to the University of Minnesota campus to check out the Weisman Art Museum that was designed by Frank Gehry. Afterwards, we went to check out some of the shops across the street in a neighborhood appropriately named Dinkytown. I would say the restaurants and shops seemed very lackluster, but I loved the little remnants of what was once there. There was an old pharmacy with mosaics on the exterior that say "DRUGS DRUGS DRUGS" that is now Loring's Pasta Bar. Unfortunately, I was driving when I passed it and didn't get a chance to take a picture of it. As we walked down the block, it was just weird to see such a huge contrast between the old and the new & trendy.

Above is Camdi, which I originally read as Camoi.

January 7, 2012

Turn Up That College Radio

We started off the day by heading over to the Midtown Global Market for lunch. It's essentially like a Cost Plus World Market + Food Court rolled into one. We sorta wanted to start off our trip with something ethnic since we have a lot of fatty American comfort food planned for the rest of the trip.

But we really didn't expect to find a gyro of this size. AND it was extremely delicious. The meat was so tender & juicy and it wasn't too salty either. Seriously, this thing was enough to feed both Kevin and me. It was filled with like 98% meat and hardly any veggies. This thing was slightly larger than a burrito from Chipotle. 

While we were scoping out our options, we passed by this Italian ice place and I was totally like…"We NEED to go back there for dessert!" So after we were done devouring that monster of a gyro, we went to get some Italian ice. It was $2 for a single scoop (which was actually really two scoops) and I could choose up to two flavors so I got the pear + ba da bing cherry. The pear was really refreshing and, strangely enough, kinda resembled the texture of an nice bosc pear. And the cherry was a nice contrast to balance out the sweetness of the pear. Oh, and did I mention it was 32 degrees outside while I was enjoying this inside?

Kevin decided he was going to be cool and get lemon frozen custard all for himself. Well about 3 bites in, he tapped out and couldn't eat anymore. I looked at him and was like…I thought you were just gonna split the Italian ice with me? And he was like…but the custard sounded so good! He then asked me to help him finish the 85% of it that was left. And all I can say is that thing was DENSE. We turned the cup over a few times to test its denseness and at no point did it even budge.

From there, we headed over to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to walk off all this food. We drove through neighborhoods full of Victorian and Brownstone homes. Some were quite beautiful while others seemed to have fallen under disrepair. Since arriving here, we've struggled to find a radio station to listen to in the car. While searching for stations, I always feel like the radio is trying to trick me into listening to Christian Rock. Luckily, I found a college radio station that's actually quite good. Radio K boasts to be "The REAL College Radio." If that's the case, I don't want to know what fake college radio is like.

Kevin was very disappointed that there wasn't any snow, so I took him to the park where he could play with leftover ice. But I did not approve of him throwing said leftover ice at me. No, that's *not* how you have a snowball fight.

Of course, I was super smart and left both my earmuffs & gloves back at the apartment. So I was just about ready to get out of the cold and migrate somewhere warm. We took a trip over to Spyhouse which has been on my list of places to go since before we left LA. 

They proudly serve up coffee from Verve, Ritual, and Coava (the first two being California roasters). I got the newest addition to their menu: the Tokyo Rose Latte. It was a latte with condensed milk and rose syrup, and it was totally delish! Kevin got the Mata Hari Latte which was a latte with almond syrup, honey, and cinnamon. Also, totally delish! Coincidentally, those are the two drinks everyone talks about on Yelp.

We then decided to just wander down Eat Street (a 17 block stretch of mostly food places on Nicollet Ave.) for a bit to scope out potential lunch places for the next 9 days. There was a good 2 blocks worth of Vietnamese places if we happen to crave some phở while we're here.

We got to the end of the block with this auto shop when we decided it was time to go back to the apartment. We just loved the very Pac-Man-esque signage.

We had a pretty awesome day and today really set the pace for how the rest of the trip is going to go. And we're pretty excited about it. 

January 1, 2012

Finally, A New Year

I'm so excited to be starting a new year. I had high hopes for 2011, but it proved to be a total dud. I got distracted and spent too much time on unimportant things. And I wasted my energy on people who just don't matter. In retrospect, I would say that 2011 has been the second worst year of my life thus far (second only to 2006). It's like I fell into a ditch and decided to just stay there. At least in 2012, I'm guaranteed one victory = FINALLY graduating from college. I see 2012 as a year of productive reparation. And it's about time I get on with life. 

This year, I have myself a lengthy & hefty list of resolutions:
- Read more
- Write more
- Draw more
- Rekindle relationships with old hobbies
- Rekindle relationships with my favorite people on the face of the planet
- Stop wasting time and energy getting frustrated/angry at people who *clearly* don't matter
- Stop feeling sorry for myself
- Realize that my mother didn't risk her life to come to this country just so I can bitch & whine about my existence
- Finally come to terms with my mother
- Work harder
- Play more
- Get busy living instead of waiting to die
- Work out/lose 15 – 20 pounds
- Return to former lifestyle
- Meditate at least once a week