Wildsam :: San Francisco



Every now and again an illustration job comes to your desk that makes you jump out of bed in the morning wanting to get to work. One such job came my way last year via Taylor Bruce, founder, editor and writer of the Wildsam Field Guides. Taylor was making a SF Guide and he wanted me to illustrate it. I could not have been more excited.

Wildsam Field Guides are not like regular travel guides. They are small books (they could easily fit in a large pocket) filled with local lore, interviews with local characters, hand-drawn maps, personal essays, lists of local “must knows” and more. “Equal parts travel guide and tribute, the field guides suit both weekender and native,” says Taylor.

In all, the book includes about 15 of my illustrations. I had never drawn a map before taking the Wildsam SF assignment (gasp!), but had so much fun drawing the six maps in the book. The maps are clearly not to scale, but designed more to highlight different aspects of the city’s culture, landscape and history. Here are two I drew for the book that I love:



Part of what made working on Wildsam SF so great was working one-on-one with Taylor Bruce. In addition to making Wildsam Guides, Taylor is a writer. He’s written for magazines like Men’s Journal, Budget Travel, Southern Living, Oxford American, Paste, Travel + Leisure, National Geographic Adventure, and others — so he’s obviously pretty smart. Taylor is also incredibly gracious and kind. And he was great to work with because he took every illustration so seriously, but at the same time he let me guide the look and feel of each drawing with my own flair. For example, he allowed me to infuse my own quirks into each map based on my own memories and knowledge of the city.


Wildsam Guides are perfect little books and you can get them here. The San Francisco Guide is also sold in many stores around the city. If you are planning a trip to San Francisco, I highly recommend bringing one along.


Rumor has it both Detroit and Brooklyn are on the short list for upcoming Wildsam Guides. Stay tuned for more!

Happy, happy Thursday.


Iceland & Alvar Aalto in UPPERCASE 19!


#19 cover preview




As you may remember, about a year ago I’d just returned from a three week solo adventure to Scandinavia, including Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. For this month’s UPPERCASE Magazine, I’ve written two articles — one about my love affair with Iceland, and the other about my trip to the Alvar Aalto studio. The Iceland article features pages from my travel sketchbook/scrapbook and some of my artwork. Both articles include original photos I took on the trip.




I highly recommend a subscription to this gorgeous magazine. You can look at and read the entire issue here online, but it’s really 1000 times better in print. For a list of stockists in your area, check here.

Happy Tuesday!


On Prioritizing Travel, Part 2



{I have a thing for passport stamps}

A year ago today, I got up at the crack of dawn, went to SFO, boarded a plane and flew via Boston to Reykjavik, Iceland. For three weeks, I traveled by myself in Iceland, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark. It was a trip I had been dreaming about for many years. I’d long been obsessed with all things Nordic (the landscape, the design, the architecture, the folk pattern), and so going was almost surreal. For the first few days I felt like I was living in some alternate reality, pinching myself to see if I would suddenly wake up. The dream-like quality of my experience is a testament to the almost unreal beauty of the places I visited.

At the end of the adventure, I reflected about how moved I had been by the experience, both of traveling by myself and of traveling, period. I had caught the proverbial travel bug, and there would be no stopping me. Since then, I’ve been to Paris (this past July for my honeymoon), and I am already planning my next adventure–a year from now I’m heading to Portugal by myself for two weeks and then Clay will join me in Spain for another two. I’ve never been to either Portugal or Spain and I’m already giddy about the trip, which is a whole year away. I’d leave tomorrow if it were not for the need to sock away cash to make it happen. Saving money for travel has trumped even spending money on clothes or books (two of my greatest loves). I first wrote about prioritizing travel here.

I’m not sure at this point in my career I’ll be off to Europe or elsewhere abroad more than once a year unless I am lucky, but I do know that ever since I took that trip a year ago I’ve been filled with a new sense of adventure and wonder that follows me wherever I go–even to Oakland, where I just moved early this year or to Cleveland, where I traveled last month. There are beautiful sites, buildings, restaurants and shops everywhere, you just have to find them–and then, if you are like me, you take pictures of them.

Have a happy Thursday. The weekend is near.



Paris 2013: Shopping



There are so many incredible sights in Paris, and the shops are among the best. We spent many days in shops, most of the time just looking. Plenty of shops in Paris are like museums — beautiful things beautifully displayed — and often looking is enough. I wasn’t able to take photos in every boutique, but I did get a few, and I’ll share some of my favorites here. Where possible, I’ll include the name of the shop for your reference (in case you are heading to Paris soon).

Enjoy & happy Thursday.


Illustre Boutique, located on Passage du Grand Cerf, one of the great shopping arcades in Paris, was a treat. As you can guess, they sell illustrated prints and cards, many limited edition by French artists. A fantastic place.


Boxes of Monogram Ribbon from one of the weekend brocantes, which are small flea markets in different parts of the city (not to be confused with the large Les Puces). When you arrive in Paris, look for signs indicating where that weekend’s brocantes will be held.


Do you enjoy galleries? There are many gallery hot spots in Paris, and one of our favorite areas was in St. Germain des Pres.


Gallery windows are like eye candy.


Department stores in Paris are fantastic. They are pretty inclusive, and in addition to clothing and homewares, many include art supplies, stationery and even tools! Our favorite was BHV.


Wall display in the homewares section at BHV on Rue de Rivoli.


Perhaps our favorite shop was Astier de Villate on Rue St. Honore. The shop is filled with 18th century inspired ceramics made of black terracotta clay (glazed in white), along with candles, paper goods and other delicate goodies. It is incredibly expensive, but worth a visit for the experience alone. One of the most inspiring places I visited there.


Stacks of beautiful ceramics at Astier de Villate


Another favorite shop was Merci on Boulevard Beaumarchais in the Marais. The stunning entryway will stop you in your tracks.


Merci is filled with beautiful, modern linens, kitchenware, clothing, furniture and books. The entryway includes the best, most current Parisian souvenirs. The bookstore/cafe is totally charming as well.



Linens at Merci.


Chairs at Merci.


Another fantastic, historic and beautiful department store is Le Bon Marché. My favorite departments were the furniture and the separate grocery store chock full of French treats and delicacies (salt, condiments, etc).


Last but not least, Deyrolle on Rue du Bac, a shop filled with incredible taxidermy (they include only animals who have died of natural causes) and scientific posters and books. Part cabinet of curiosities, part museum, this place is a sight to see.




A spread from a wonderful book of scientific posters I got at Deyrolle.

I hope you have enjoyed this mini-tour!

Bonne journée!


Paris 2013: Street Art



One of the joys of being in Paris is just walking around. Yesterday someone asked me on Instagram for advice about what they should do on an upcoming trip to Paris. And I said to him, just walk. Nearly everything in Paris is eye candy. The streets are filled with gorgeous storefronts, signage, doors, architecture,. restaurants, and, the topic of today’s post, street art. Look up, look and look down, and you will find wonderful street art in the most peculiar places. Here is some of what I caught. Enjoy.








Happy Wednesday.


Paris 2013: Marche Aux Fleurs



{On my rented bike on Île Saint-Louis in Paris}

During our second week in Paris, we rented bicycles and rode all over the city on them. Paris is a very bike-able city, since it’s fairly flat and there are bike lanes on most streets. One of the most exciting discoveries we made on our bike adventure that day was the Marche aux Fleurs, the flower market on Île de la Cité that is open to the public. It is comprised of a set of buildings topped with glass ceilings off the Rue de la Cité. If you love vintage signage, birdhouses, pots, garden trinkets, greenery and beautiful flowers, you will love this place! Enjoy.









Happy Friday, friends!


Paris 2013: The Medieval City of Tours




One of the highlights of our trip to Paris was getting on a high speed train and traveling to the medieval city of Tours. We originally decided to go to Tours because the Tour de France was rolling through, and it’s been on our “must do before we die” list to see the bike race in person. And while it was pretty awesome to see the Tour de France finish that day, it turned out that the town itself — situated in the Loire Valley — is incredibly beautiful, and worth a visit on its own. Clay commented more than once walking through the oldest parts of the town, “It’s like we’re on a movie set!” And it’s true — the place is so old that it’s almost unreal. We also took a side trip from Tours on our second day there to visit two different nearby chateaus on the Loire, but I’ll save that excursion for another blog post. For now, I’ll leave you with some photos I took in this gorgeous old city.


















And last but not least: the TOUR DE FRANCE!…


Happy Tuesday, friends.


Genevieve Asse




When in Paris, I discovered for the first time (and fell in love with) the work of Genevieve Asse, a 90 year old French painter whose work was on display at Centre Pompidou while I was there. The small exhibition spans more than sixty years of her work, from 1946 to 2009.


This was one of my favorite paintings in the show. Her sketchbook pages are especially wonderful:



Asse is a monochromatic painter. Her medium to large abstract paintings on canvas are mostly blues, greys and whites, and her motifs reference the solice of the sky,  the sea and light. There are often narrow crevices in her work, which I also find so beautiful.



As an aspiring abstract painter, I am very interested in the ways that abstract painters work and how they come to their “subjects”. I bought the exhibition catalog, but it is in French, so I am hoping to find a book in English about her work, though I’m not sure one exists.



For now, I’ll stare at the pictures of her beautiful work. So grateful that I stumbled upon it at the Pompidou!

Happy Friday.


Paris 2013: Storefronts, Part Two



{Quite possibly myfavorite storefront in Paris: this cremerie in Saint Germain}

You may recall the week before last I posted my first set of storefront photographs from my trip to Paris in July. Today I’m back with the second set. Most of these storefronts are in Paris, but a couple of these are from the city of Tours, which we visited to watch the Tour de France roll through during our second week in France (more on Tours and our adventure there soon). For the record, I include restaurants and other organizations in this category of “storefront.” I hope you enjoy their rustic beauty, charm, typography, lettering, and color as much as I do!














Happy Thursday.


Paris 2013: Les Puces (The Flea Market)




As most of you know, I am an avid and somewhat obsessive collector. I even wrote a book about my collections in 2010. So as you can imagine, I love a good flea market, and lucky for me, Paris is full of them. On the weekend, you will often see smaller, open air “brocantes” pop up in various places in the city, and we went to one the first weekend we were there. But there is also a large and permanent flea market in Paris called Les Puces de Saint-Ouen Market (Les Puces literally means Flea Market). It’s one of the largest flea markets in the world, and definitely worth a visit if you like vintage stuff. Much of what’s there is pretty expensive (I only bought a couple of little things), but its beautiful to look at and a slice of Parisian life that you will not see anywhere else. My friend Jordan posted wonderful directions to get there via the 4 Metro line on her blog, which we used. It’s a bit confusing when you get off the metro, so these directions are a great resource.


Les Puces takes up several city blocks and is divided into several different sections. Some are mostly furniture and some have more bric-a-brac and smaller items. The swamp meet is nearby, and parts of that sell vintage as well, so one could easily spend an entire day trolling the area.


What makes this flea market different from many (at least in the US), is that vendors have permanent stalls, which they open on the weekends (and limited hours on Monday) each week. Vendors store their wares while the flea market is closed and go off to look for new treasures to sell.


There are restaurants intermingled in the winding alleys of Les Puces, so food for the weary shopper is never far! Here we are waiting for our lunch at Tarte Kluger.


We also found there were ample restrooms (most of which were very clean!), which was not the case in the rest of our Paris adventures. This is a photo I took in the mirrors of one of the fancier restrooms at Les Puces, right across the way from Tarte Kluger.


I don’t speak French at all (except for a few words and phrases) but most of the vendors I encountered were very willing to work with me on purchases and some were even open to a little bargaining!


It’s hard to walk the entire flea market in one day, unless you have boundless energy. There is a lot to look at! It was pretty hot the day we went, so we were extra pooped by mid-afternoon. The good news is that the flea market is open both Saturday and Sunday and for some hours on Monday, so there is plenty of opportunity to stroll.


I am missing Paris something awful this week. This happens to me every time I travel and come home. I am like a love-sick girl pining to get back to her crush. I am still dreaming of Paris at night when I go to sleep.


Happy Tuesday. More Paris posts coming over the next couple of weeks!


Paris 2013: Storefronts, Part One




Storefronts — especially those that maintain original (or at least vintage) signage and typography — are one of my favorite parts of Paris. On this latest adventure there, I photographed as many as I could (and would have shot more, had it not been for cars or construction debris blocking many I saw). Some were photographed when they were closed (hence the covered windows in some). I took so many photos of storefronts (including restaurants) that I must divide them into two posts (Part Two will come next week). Enjoy!











Happy, happy Friday. Happy, happy weekend.



Paris 2013: Blue Doors



{Me, captured by Clay, taking a picture of a blue door one evening.)

As you may recall from my trip to Scandinavia last year, I love a good door. I photograph them wherever I go, and I’ve even been known to paint them. My trip to Paris offered so many excellent doors. On this trip, I noticed that blue doors dominated Paris streets, and so I began photographing them. Blue is an important color in France (you see it everywhere), and so it seemed fitting. Here is a collection of some of the blue doors that I photographed while I was there. Enjoy!















In case you missed it, yesterday I posted some of my sketchbook drawings from this trip. Over the next two weeks I’ll be sharing more of my Paris photos and stories here, so stay tuned.

Have a great Wednesday, friends.



Honeymoon & New Magazine



You may recall that Clay and I are heading to Paris for our honeymoon next week. We’ll be there for two weeks, staying in an apartment in the 6th arrondissement. While I’m away, starting Monday, July 1, I will mostly be taking a break from this blog until I return on Tuesday, July 16. I’ll still be posting The Reconstructionists on Mondays, but that’s it. My Etsy Shop will close tomorrow and reopen on July 17th (that means if you’d like something before the end of July, order now).

I will be posting images from our Paris adventure on Instagram, so if you’d like to follow along, just head over there. And, of course, when I return, I’ll fill you in on all the highlights of our trip.

Speaking of travel, I’ll be back tomorrow with a long overdue new installment in My Nordic Adventure. Stay tuned for that.

Last but not least, I have written an essay for a gorgeous new magazine called Hand and Hand. This issue is specifically about knots, and my essay is aptly about “Tying the Knot.” It’s put out by maker and artist Carrie Strine and designer Tim Lahan, and it’s chock full of good stuff, including many rope knot DIY projects. Get yours here.



Have a great Tuesday.


On Prioritizing Travel



{New hand lettered quote, available also as a print in my shop}

As you may recall, I caught the travel bug last September. You may also recall that Clay and I are heading to Paris on June 30 for two weeks. So needless to say, I am feeling very giddy about getting out of dodge again.

I have found myself in the past feeling occasionally resentful toward a few of my friends who manage to leave their home more than several times a year to go on various adventures. They are not necessarily heading to Europe, of course (though sometimes they do), just traveling to the mountains or another city in their state, or to New York or Palm Springs. I see the photos of these friends on Facebook or Instagram and exclaim to myself, secretly jealous: “How on earth do they get to leave home so often? Don’t they work?”

The answer, of course, is that they do work. It’s just that their priorities are different. None of the friends I’m thinking of make big incomes, and many of them have quite modest ones, actually. None of them have kids either. They simply spend what extra money they do have on travel, even if it means not going very far. As Robert Louis Stevenson says, “The great affair is to move.” Instead of resenting those friends, I am now finding myself wanting to emulate them.

The truth is I love being at home too (I am, for the record, smitten with living in Oakland and really enjoy spending weekends in my little house), but I also know that I feel most free and relaxed when I am away from the responsibilities of home and the reminders of my sometimes hectic working life. The minute I am up in an airplane or on a road trip in my car, even before I have reached my destination, my mind bursts with new ideas and everything is possible.

The great thing about travel for many of us is that it both inspires us and makes us happy to return to our own bed in the end. We want to leave, to move, to see new things, to eat new food, shop, take in new sights, find new inspiration, but we are also so glad to come back to the comfort and familiarity of our own environment. The great thing about most travel is precisely that it is temporary.

Have a great weekend. If you are traveling, be safe. If you are home, stay cozy.



The Sonoma Coast



{Looking out the window of our rental onto Bodega Bay}

Part of the beauty of living in the Bay Area of California is that within a few hours in most any direction is a some unique location filled with natural wonders and pristine landscape. Last weekend, Clay and I ventured to the Sonoma Coast for the weekend. We stayed in Bodega Bay (right near the town of Bodega, where Hitchcock’s The Birds takes place & was filmed), and visited the Bodega Head, Freestone (home of the famous and crazy delicious bakery Wild Flour) and Occidental.


{Bodega Head, along the Sonoma Coast Beach, one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline I have ever visited.}


{Fantastic old signage in the town of Bodega}


{We are huge Hitchcock fans so it’s always a treat to visit St. Teresa’s Church in Bodega to see this site from The Birds, along with the schoolhouse, which sits behind it, below)


{The old schoolhouse site from Hitchcock’s The Birds}


{Inside the Bodega General Store, Hitchcock memorabilia all over the walls}


{More from Bodega Head. California’s rocky coastline never fails to take my breath away. What other beach in California has all five star reviews on Yelp?}


{Clay grabbing her own captures of the breathtaking views}


{Pastoral scene in Freestone.}


{I’ve always loved the pink and white stripes of Patrick’s!}


{Dusk on the beach off Highway 1 north of Bodega Bay. The weather last weekend was spectacular.}

We’re launching into another weekend here, and I hope you all have a wonderful one. I’ll be back Monday with the next Recontructionist.