Category Archives: summaries

summary: 09/18/13

Semi-regular posts about what we’re interested in right now. See more of these posts here.



1. leonard koren
for awhile now i’ve been interested in principles of japanese aesthetic and philosophy, and specifically as they have been recorded by leonard koren, whose books on wabi-sabi, ‘object placement,’ and plantlife have been hugely influential to me in the last year. that said, i really enjoy this 2010 nytimes “at home with” feature on him. specifically their description of his work: ‘deceptive modesty.’ something to think about.


2. flannery oconnor’s prayer journals in the new yorker
“…You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon. The crescent is very beautiful and perhaps that is all one like I am should or could see; but what I am afraid of, dear God, is that my self shadow will grow so large that it blocks the whole moon, and that I will judge myself by the shadow that is nothing. . . .”
///  so so so so good.  ///


3. coconut oil

my mom is obsessed with coconut oil’s health principles and forever i was like, yada yada, what am i supposed to cook my eggs in this? one day i randomly decided to put it on my face and god GOD people, this stuff rules. even on my skin–which errs toward the oily side–it’s the perfect end-of-day cleanser and makes my face incredibly soft. smells like beachy vibes.


4. ernest hemingway’s hamburger recipe in the paris review

papa’s a genius. this may be my favorite thing i have read all year? Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan in the paris review on ernest hemingway’s obsessive food specificity, including his hamburger recipe, special order grocery list, and these little gems:

On avocados: “We like avocados but we don’t want them every day. … When you serve an avocado, do not also serve tomatoes, radishes, or peppers. The avocado is enough for us.”

On the Hemingway cow: “All milk is to be used for the cats.”



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1. st. james infirmary blues
so this might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but i’m kind of obsessed with this scene from snow white by the fleischer brothers. this short is very different from the disney version which came out only a few years later. the fleischers invented a rotoscope machine and so they filmed the very popular skat singer cab calloway doing his signature dance move and then used the footage to rotoscope calloway dressed up like one of their characters, coco the clown. i’ve watched it over and over again. (image source is a screenshot from the link)


2. rye bread
so sometimes i forget that i’m jewish. i’m not particularly religious and besides for the fact that once in awhile i’ll get some incomprehensible hebrew song stuck in my head, i live pretty agnostically. but, recently, i’ve had a huge craving for rye bread. i want it all the time. so we bought some this weekend and we’re already done with the loaf. ohhh genetics.

3. life drawing

i am in a life drawing class for my program and it’s quickly becoming my favorite. i thought i’d be nervous because the models are nude, but turns out i’m actually mature and can handle it! i can already feel my skills improving and it’s just really exciting. ps-in the class in which i made this photo we had to also draw the bones inside of the figure.


4. cotton candy grapes
just try them i promise!




summary: august 26, 2013



Semi-regular posts about what we’re interested in right now. See more of these posts here.



2005-05-03 113 Saguaros


there’s one thing about living in central texas and that is that it is HELL for plants. when i travel, my mind is BLOWN when i see plants, just thriving out there on the street (screw you, portland and your casual sidewalk roses). by necessity i’ve become interested in understanding the native plants of my home state. in doing so, i’ve become well-versed in telling you all about the different varieties of cactus that exist out there. also, i have been loving this blog and mostly the fact that it hasn’t been updated since 2010.

2. marfa minimalism

every time i go to marfa, i am reinspired by the natural vastness of west texas and the deliberate minimalism that the city of marfa exudes. after my trip, i went through all my belongings like a maniac and started to throw out anything that seemed unnecessary. essentials, y’all.

3. the grittiness of  taza chocolate

at a recent dinner party, my friend lauren brought over one of these taza chocolate bars. with a rich, VERY high cacao ratio (like baker’s chocolate) and a gritty, almost sand-like texture, it’s totally weird and i am obsessed.

4.  this john berryman list.

here, via the paris review.

5. the work of nicole lavelle

i have admired nicole’s work for years, and was able to meet her this summer in portland on a project we’re working on together. articulate and bold, this girl is good. 



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1. monochrome outfits
to add upon leigh’s preference for all denim outfits, this summer i have found myself wearing increasingly monochrome clothes. ex: cream sweater, cream shorts, light brown shoes. think apiece apart’s s/s 2013. it just feels very summery.
2. spicy yogurt
my fav new snack just got an upgrade, cayenne pepper. here is my little recipe: greek yogurt, berries, lots and lots of cinnamon, a bit of honey, and a dash of cayenne pepper. it’s perfect and satisfying and i’m seriously about to go make myself a bowl right now.

3. fiddle leaf fig plants
to quote my friend michelle, “apparently fiddle leafs are cool right now.” i love the concept of trendy plants. 2011 and 2012 saw the rise of succulents, early-2013 has definitely been all about the monstera, and now i see fiddle leaf fig plants rising in popularity. i bought a small one recently and i can’t wait until it is luscious and huge, towering over my kitchen table. i’ve got quite awhile to go, though, because my plant is only about two feet tall.

4. freckles

i’ve always been freckly, but as i’ve grown older my face freckles have faded. i miss them! it doesn’t feel quite like august without them. i especially love them in this photo of zadie smith.IMG_3355

5. “the art of simple food” by alice waters
my mom gave me this book as a housewarming gift and it’s so great. my favorite advice so far has been to shop at farmers’ markets. in texas, the farmers’ markets leave a lot to be desired: packaged goods, pastries, i think i even bought potstickers once. but in la they are packed full of knobby carrots and vibrant berries.

a summary: july 12, 2013


A semi-regular round-up of things we’re enjoying: read more synonym summaries here.




1. instructional ephemera + portland’s ampersand books

my favorite part of any specialty book store is the ephemera section: old instruction manuals, postcards, maps, city guides, journals, ticket stubs, receipts. basically: trivialities! i could spend all day in a pile of paper scraps.
a happy discovery this summer has been portland’s ampersand books — truly one of the best art book stores i’ve ever been to, with an incredible ephemera section worth getting lost in. i highly, highly suggest this shop.
on a similar note, i have been loving this bit from brain pickings: frida kahlo’s handwritten recipe for a paint medium using damar gum, a “resin harvested from trees native to the pacific.”




2. salt licorice:

i went to the beach and at the weirdest candy store i bought exactly $2 worth of salted licorice. it tastes kind of stale but also REALLY chewy and perfectly salty-sweet-savory. umami, y’all.



3. a neverending search for the perfect literary thriller

earlier in the summer i did a little write-up about summer reading for my friend erik heywood’s book—shop blog about only wanting to read mainstream cop/legal drama-thrillers (with a strong female lead). hey, i’m still looking.

4. alexa chung’s hair advice

why do i like this?




1. the giant noodle at dodger stadium
i’m on a weird noodle kick. besides for the fact that they are obviously delicious, i have been incorporating noodle-y patterns into some of my recent design work. i think that it is partly due to my recent obsession with memphis design (to quote from memphis: objects, furniture, and patterns by richard horn (1989) “look twice at that picture and you realize that you have no real idea what these squiggly lines have to do with your life.”), as well as my recent interest in making 3D objects with 2D illustrations. and so, while attending a dodger’s game a few weeks ago, i was very excited to see that on display there is a giant kraft macaroni noodle. i wish it were an art installation. it is not. it is a marketing scheme, and worse yet, it says “you know you love it” on the side. but, i can ignore that and enjoy the fact that there is a noodle sculpture in existence and that it’s not too far from my house.


2. midnight’s children
this summer, i have spent a lot of time by myself and consequently i have had a lot of time to read. i’m loving this book. duh, you say, salman rushdie is one of the great writers of this generation. but what is personally very entertaining about mc is that it is written in a way similar to the way my mind works: lots of quick jumps between scenes and ideas, montage, and cartoonish exaggerations of character. plus after reading a few books of short stories in a row, i was truly in the mood for an epic.


3. david hockney
while exploring abstract, noodle-y designs (see above) for issue 2, i created this weird pattern based on the squiggly lines of my boyfriend’s beard. not a few weeks after, i saw an image of david hockney painting his pool in almost the exact same pattern. from then on, i knew he would be a new favorite. i found a used copy of “david hockney by david hockney” at stories on sunset and find a lot of inspiration reading about his life and looking at his work. just google him!


there is something very cathartic about looking at artist’s workspaces, and i recently happened upon this dutch site that is just that: images of european atelier. i can’t really read the interviews without running them through some automated translation, but the images are enough to keep me coming back when i need a little break in my work day.

a summary: june 28, 2013


A semi-regular round-up of things we’re enjoying: read more synonym summaries here


1. The Paris Review’s 2003 interview with Amy Hempel

I am always very interested in reading good interviews, and I revisit the Paris Review archives every so often, particularly when I’m feeling like “I want to read something really good but I don’t know what.” A recent favorite: this ten-year-old interview with Amy Hempel.  “Then I thought, Either I’m really dumb and can’t think of anything else to say, or it’s done. Dumb or done.”


2. “Pendulum” by Pure Bathing Culture.

my summer jam. listen here.


3. “Women in clothes”

A new project from three incredible women: Leanne Shapton, Sheila Heti, and Heidi Julavits, Women in Clothes will explore “the multiplicity of motives that inform how women decide to present themselves, and what style means…through conversations, interviews, essays, surveys, diagrams and drawings, and with contributions from a wide range of women.” I cannot wait!! (You can also download a survey off the website to participate in the project here. Image from Shapton’s book The Native Trees of Canada. )


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4. Won Hundred jeans

A confession: I was really, really close to buying a pair of $500 cropped Chimala jeans. It’s shameful! I’m so sorry!
Fortunately, last week I discovered this pair by Danish label Won Hundred, which I might like even better (and for the price I can forget for the moment about Chimala’s intricate hand-stitched details).



5. Lauren Spencer King’s Moon Archive on The Sphinx and the Milky Way

I was on a hike last week with a friend when we discovered our mutual love for LA artist Lauren King’s Moon series on her blog (life lesson: it’s not the best timing to get super excited about something when you’re hiking down a steep cliff). Lauren is an all-around inspiration, and I especially love these monthly summaries of moon cycles and how they relate to our moods, the seasons, and the energy surrounding our lives. Lauren’s writing has a quiet wisdom to it; I have followed her blog for years and always eagerly anticipate these posts. 



1. james turrell

along with the rest of the country, i too have fallen in love with james turrell. i saw a piece of his about six years ago at the nasher sculpture garden in dallas, a piece that turrell has since declared destroyed due to a skyscraper condo built next to the musuem. fortunately, i was recently able to rediscover his work in his retrospective at the lacma. i especially enjoyed “breathing light,” which is a rounded, rectangular room that is filled with slowly pulsing light. i felt a bit like i was in a sci-fi movie and a bit aware of the fact that i was outwardly exclaiming “ooh” and “ahhh” at the changing of colors, but it was an experience that has been on my mind ever since. i highly recommend you check out this exhibit (i have plans to go two more times already!) or to see another exhibit of his currently at the guggenheim in new york. photo by florian holzherr
2. short hair
i recently cut a good deal of my hair off and i now can’t see myself ever having long hair again. i’ve always wanted shorter hair, but never really had the guts to do it. it’s silly maybe, but i think that i will be making this my signature haircut. (this is not me, but it looks like my haircut right now. source unknown.)


3. homemade salsa

while staying with my boyfriend’s family a few weeks back, i learned how to make homemade salsa with fresh peppers. julian’s uncle andrés doesn’t use a recipe, but just makes it how he always has. here is my adapted recipe from his lesson.

guero peppers (also known as yellow wax or banana peppers) (4), tomato sauce (1/4 can), garlic (4 cloves), salt (to taste)
1. split open the peppers so that they lie flat and remove the seeds.
2. heat two tablespoons of oil in a non-stick pan on low-medium.
3. place peppers in pan with skin-side down and as flat as possible.
4. cook peppers on low-medium heat until you begin to smell their flavor. it usually takes <5 min. if you burn them a bit, that’s okay too! you will just have roasted salsa.
5. add peppers, tomato sauce and garlic to a food processor and pulse for chunky salsa.
6. add salt to taste
7. serve with some xochitl brand chips (they are the best!)


4. neon signs
a few weeks ago, i saw this neon sign by natascha snellman at iko iko and I can’t stop thinking about it. i love how it is a stripped down bar sign, heavy with irony, and incredibly unexpected. for some reason, i am compelled to incorporate neon pink, plasma shapes into my latest illustrations. maybe this also has to do with the above mentioned james turrell exhibit, but i have literally been inspired by light this week.



5. alice munro’s runaway
i am flying through this book probably faster than i have ever read a book of short stories. it’s so good! and, although well-written, the stories are sort of over the top. the one i just read reminded me of “the face on the milk carton,” you know, that book-turned-tv-movie about a girl who realizes that she was stolen from her family as a child and her parents are actually the parents of the woman who stole her. this story was almost that crazy! highly recommended.

a summary: June 14, 2013

we like a lot of things that don’t make it to the pages of the magazine, or to this website.
the following is both a way to share bits of interest and to check in with ourselves about what’s at the front of our minds right now. onward!


Texas Monthly's story "The Innocent Man" by Pamela Colloff, as featured in @synonymjournal

1.”the innocent man” / “the guilty man”

on a recent binge-reading session through the texas monthly archives, i revisited pamela colloff’s national magazine award-winning, two-part series from 2012, “the innocent man,” on the wrongful conviction of michael morton, who spent 25 years in prison on the murder of his wife. the story is both heart wrenching and unbelievable: i cannot imagine how difficult this complex piece must have been to report and put together, and colloff is a master at laying it out in a totally understandable and readable way. this month, the magazine published a follow-up on the march murder trial of mark alan norwood, who now stands accused in the killing of morton’s wife. 


2. the projects of John Taboada and Giovanna Parolari

i’m spending this summer in portland, oregon. during my stay here, i’ve unintentionally started stalking the various businesses of john taboada and giovanna parolari, proprietors of the restaurants navarre and luce and shop una. i cannot emphasize enough how incredible all three spaces are. on one of our first nights in town, we ate a mind-blowingly delicious dinner at navarre, the ambiance perfectly unpretentious and neighborly, the spanish-influenced cuisine unfussy but inventive. their rustic italian sister cafe luce was dubbed one of bon appetit’s “best new restaurants of 2012,” and una, a careful balance of clothing and objects, is equally lovely, a rare retail experience that feels as much of a gallery space as it does a place to shop. also can i just say that i kind of love the fact that ALL of their websites are just blogspot pages? old school is the best (photo via ashley helvey).

ben medansky mug, featured on @synonymjournal

3. mugs without handles

on a trip to los angeles last month, i had breakfast at sqirl, jessica koslow’s incredible small batch preserve outfit-turned-silverlake cafe. i ordered a coffee, which was was served in a small porcelain handleless mug, and was instantly obsessed. my morning coffee has a new ritual. i’d happily accept one of these beauties from ceramicist ben medansky, whose studio i also happened to visit on this same l.a. visit.

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4. amelia gray’s twitter

i recently exhausted all the published writing of amelia gray (highly recommended: her latest novel, threats). fortunately, she has my favorite twitter ever! the gift that never stops giving.


5. all denim

it’s my summer uniform: deal with it (*except think less britney and more stella mccartney spring 2011).



kathleen whittaker jewelry, as featured in @synonymjournal

1. kathleen whittaker:
i’ve been admiring kathleen’s work for a long time. her pieces are simple and elegant without being boring: straight gold lines, flat gold dots, and tiny round golden beads. i’m also thrilled to learn that she lives in echo park, my new neighborhood. i’ll take one in every style please!

on the road, via @synonymjournal

2. on the road:
i’ve always been uninterested in this book, much in the same way 24-year-old-me is uninterested in the perks of being a wallflower or jonathan safran foer. but, after my recent move to los angeles, i found a free copy online and am actually enthralled. i love the roller-coaster adventure ride through the u.s., especially juxtaposed with the current culture of blogging, instagram and streaming video.

"where i was from," via @synonymjournal

3. where i was from
in the past few months, i have spent way too many hours going through wiwf’s online catalogue of “ephemeral vintage items,” saving them to my desktop, and then copying the outfits using pieces from my own wardrobe. their baggy, wearable aesthetic parallels my own current personal style.

light sculptures, via @synonymjournal

4. akari light sculptures

in a mid-century modern furniture store in san diego, i happened upon a beautiful lantern by isamu noguchi. ever since, i’ve been coveting each of his unique designs. i’ve even been looking up ikea hacks to turn their knock-off noguchis into lanterns that look more like the real thing. originally from los angeles, noguchi developed these lamps in 1951 in his studio in new york. now, the isamu noguchi garden museum showcases these scupltures as well as his other furniture designs in long island city.

domo-a studio, via @synonymjournal

5. domo-a

i’m always quite excited by the design firm’s typography work. their wavey-lined, geometric layouts really represent the current resurgence of memphis style while exploring, perhaps ironically, gradient heavy designs of early computer graphics.