Staycation week - Noguchi Museum

Many of the gals in our studio have April birthdays, so a celebratory lunch was clearly in order. We met up a the Queens Kickshaw on the recommendation of Alice Gao and her brilliant blog. The space was long and cozy, with simple food (specializing in unique grilled cheese combos) and a relaxed atmosphere . 

After lunch, we took a brief stroll in the sun to the museum of Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi. Famous for his Akari Light Sculptures and collaborations with furniture company Henry Miller, Noguchi was a high modernist with a broad body of work.

The collection featured many of his stone pieces: organic forms with contrasting smooth and rough textures or alternating segments colored rock fit seamlessly together. Some had hand hewn bases topped with geometrically carved stones. Fluid and lyrical, Noguchi's work adorned sets for Martha Graham's dance company and the homes of many design enthusiasts. Our own designer hearts were fluttering! 

The museum, which Noguchi constructed in the mid 1980s, is a serene and contemplative space. The combination of indoor and outdoor areas, including a small garden, made it the perfect spot to get inspired on a warm spring day! 

Staycation Week - Cupping at Toby's Estate

Last week was Staycation week at Petite Alma! In the sprit of spring, we are got out of the office and explored interesting spots around town.

One morning we headed to Toby's Estate in Williamsburg to learn the basics of coffee cupping. Similar to a wine tasting, a cupping is a way to compare varieties of coffee. We sniffed and slurped our way through four different samples, picking out hints of lemon, chocolate and wet leaves. Our friendly instructor, Mike, gave us the skinny on espresso drinks and answered our home brew questions. 

After the cupping, we lounged in Toby's bright, cozy space and enjoyed soy cortados and single origin pour overs. 

Next up, the Noguchi Museum.

image via Brooklyn Magazine

Podcasts from Here's the Thing

As of late, I've been a little obsessed with Alec Baldwin's podcast series, Here's the Thing, on WNYC.  He interviews artists, policy makers and performers in a laid back, funny and natural way. Some favorites were interviews with Brian Williams, Lena Dunham and in particular Andrew McCarthy.  Each podcast is about 45 minutes, so they are great to take on a walk or to listen to while cooking dinner!

Good taste and hard work

We've always liked Ira Glass's "The Gap" and stumbled across this video version of it.  I'm pretty sure everyone in the creative industry feels this way far too often, but it's nice to know you're not the only one, that it's just part of the job. I'll paste the text below, but be sure to watch the video above. 

"Nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish somebody had told this to me — is that all of us who do creative work … we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there’s a gap, that for the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good, OK? It’s not that great. It’s really not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good. But your taste — the thing that got you into the game — your taste is still killer, and your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you, you know what I mean?
A lot of people never get past that phase. A lot of people at that point, they quit. And the thing I would just like say to you with all my heart is that most everybody I know who does interesting creative work, they went through a phase of years where they had really good taste and they could tell what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be — they knew it fell short, it didn’t have the special thing that we wanted it to have.
And the thing I would say to you is everybody goes through that. And for you to go through it, if you’re going through it right now, if you’re just getting out of that phase — you gotta know it’s totally normal.
And the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work — do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week, or every month, you know you’re going to finish one story. Because it’s only by actually going through a volume of work that you are actually going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions. It takes a while, it’s gonna take you a while — it’s normal to take a while. And you just have to fight your way through that, okay?"

-Ira Glass

Do you have a fixed or growth mindset?

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I learned about Brain Pickings recently and am very much enjoying their articles!  Last week I read about Fixed vs Growth Mindsets and it really spoke to me, so I wanted to share it with you. I'll give you the gist of it if you promise you'll read it.  Here goes… 

FIXED MINDSET:
1. We are born with all the intelligence we will ever have.
2. Making a mistake means you aren't smart.
3. This is the hand I was dealt and there's nothing I can do to make it better.
4. If I were smarter, this wouldn't take so much effort.

GROWTH MINDSET:
1. We are here to learn and the more we learn, the more intelligent we become.
2. Mistakes are not failure, they are simply a way of learning.
3. The hand I was dealt is just a starting point.  My effort and hard work make me even better!
4. I am smart because of the effort I make. 

To read the entire article, click here.  I hope you get as much out of it as I did!

Shake a leg... it's Valentine's!

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This little fella is from our "give a little love" collection.  We are currently working on it with our new partner in the UK and are having so much fun designing these little critters.  We laugh every time we look at them!  Simple and minimalistic with a little surprise that spreads love in a tiny way.  Happy Valentine's Day from all of us at Petite Alma.

Gimme the news... with a dash of humor

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I'm very impressed with these two lovely ladies above.  Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg (previously employed at NBC News) are founders of theSkimm, a charming and informative daily email that breaks down top stories into a few paragraphs.  It's a quick, easy read and funny too. What better way to start off the day- informed and laughing!  Three cheers for smart, funny and entrepreneurial women!  Sign up here to get your morning news.

Photograph found here at Refinery29.

Salt, chocolate and bitters...

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If you are looking for a unique gift, you must visit the The Meadow, a beautiful boutique tucked away in Manhattan's West Village. They offer a floor to ceiling selection of artisanal finishing salts, pink Himalayan salt blocks, craft chocolate bars and cocktail bitters.  Everyone who works there is incredibly knowledgeable (and patient too)!

I picked out three different sea salts; a Japanese seaweed salt, Amabito no Moshio, savory and delicate, said to be perfect for salmon, veggies or eggs, Sel Gris de Guerande, a hearty, mineral rich salt, great for meats, pastas, and cheeses, and lastly their infused Lemon Flake salt which I can’t wait to try on avocado salads, sautéed kale and even pistachio ice cream at their suggestion!

The wall of chocolate is a designer's delight.  The packaging is as beautiful as the chocolate is tasty.  I left with the photographed bars above.  They also have a table of flowers in the middle of the store and can whip up a bouquet to go with your gift.  Love this place!

One product. One girl. One day.

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I hate to admit I found Unlock Hope because I saw a t-shirt on pinterest that I wanted (see above).  I arrived at the site, read their story and was thrilled to support them.  They partner with Think Humanity to accomplish their mission: to help educate young girls in Uganda and provide healthcare, food and shelter for them.  Buying a shirt covers expenses for one girl for one day. I also bought the "be the change" shirt and am proud to wear it!

Goals for the year

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I read once that integrity is when what you BELIEVE, what you THINK, what you SAY and what you DO are all in line with one another.  CONSISTENCY.  How often I think one thing, but then don't follow through in my actions.  I claim to believe in patience, but then find myself grumbling at someone who is taking too long in line at the market.  Goal #1: be consistent!

I love beautiful things... love being surrounded by them.  This year, I want to spend more time, energy and money on EXPERIENCES that build memories rather than things that just take up more space.  Goal #2: consume more experiences and fewer things.  Wish me luck!

Healthy and delicious food at Hu Kitchen

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After trying a Hu Kitchen Salty Chocolate bar from Lifethyme Market (my favorite grocery store in the city), I decided to go online and check out what else Hu has to offer.  Since we aim to promote going back to the basics at Petite Alma, I'm always excited to discover other companies that are doing the same, and Hu Kitchen is a great example of just that.  Below are the Hu Pillars that they live by:  

Eat food that is found in nature, not processed in a lab.  "If you don’t recognize an ingredient, there’s a good chance your body won’t either."
Eat foods with wholesome ingredients.  Quality ingredients are more important than calorie counting.  
Let veggies take center stage.  Have vegetables as your main dish and animal protein as a side.  
Eat whole grains such as rice and quinoa instead of bread, bagels and pasta.  And, if you can be gluten free, even better.
Eat healthy fats such as olive and coconut oil, nuts and avocados.
When eating animal protein, make sure the animals were eating what they were meant to eat (no GMO food pellets or antibiotics).
Sweeten wisely.  Hu only sweetens with coconut sugar, unfiltered honey and maple syrup.  They do not use corn syrup, cane sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Eat clean and avoid toxins by saying no to genetically modified ingredients (GMO).  Hu is non-GMO.

Turns out their cafe is just 5 minutes from my apartment and has fresh green juices, shakes, meals to go, snacks, sweets, coffee, you name it.  You can dine in,  take out or order in.  I will be frequenting Hu Kitchen in 2014!

We're Hiring!

Happy New Year!  All of us over here at Petite Alma had a great holiday break.  We celebrated and explored all over the globe- from Thailand to Japan to Scotland to London and of course in the good old USA.  

We wanted to let our readers know that we are looking for a Studio Coordinator and are excited to find  just the right person.  The job description is attached to the link just above, so if you are interested or know of any fabulous people who are, please send them our way!  

Petite Alma cards and gifts: $30 discount!

Petite Alma holiday cards

In the spirit of giving and cheer this holiday season, we're happy to offer Petite Alma fans $30 off $100 of Petite Alma products for Tiny Prints. We have a big selection of holiday cards and party invitations for all the festivities coming up, even New Year's cards for the advance planners out there! And to make things super simple, Tiny Prints can stamp, address and mail the cards for you. The discount applies to our other products, too, including some fun holiday gifts that can all be personalized: notebooks, notepads, iPhone cases, and adult, children's and baby stationery. To receive the discount, enter promotion code PETITEALMA13 at checkout. Use the discount as many times as you like until December 31, and combine it with code HOLFS13 for free shipping. Enjoy, and best wishes for this happy holiday month!

A little winter luxury

Looking for a delicious holiday treat for someone special this holiday season? Get inspired by this cute stop-motion animation featuring Bellocq tea. Founded by three creatives exploring the enchanting art of tea-making, Bellocq merges tradition and innovation at its nearby Greenpoint atelier. We recommend a visit, and will be keeping Bellocq's lovely blends (and gorgeous containers) on our wish lists!

Giving thanks for artists and makers

A Shinola retail store opened recently in Tribeca, and it's a beautiful store selling covetable handcrafted watches, bicycles, leather goods, and journals. As a physical manifestation of the brand, the store well portrays the real beauty of Shinola's purpose: to reinvigorate American manufacturing, invest in craft and skill and, in the company's words, "reclaim the making of things that are made well." In that homegrown spirit, Shinola launched a campaign for Makers Monday, asking us to buy an American-made product on December 2. These short video clips about Shinola makers should get you inspired. And for more incentive: Shinola reports that if every American of voting age spends just $10 on Makers Monday, we'll generate $2.4 billion for American-made products and the people who make them. Pretty impressive, right? Let's support America's craftsmen and women and mark our calendars for next Monday! Happy Thanksgiving to all.

For holiday hosting, think brass

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With Thanksgiving on the horizon and our minds in entertaining mode, we've been noticing these lovely bottle openers all around town and at our favorite Tortoise General Store. They're little gems from Futagami, a Japanese brass foundry handcrafting home accessories since 1897. Though they hardly look like bottle openers, they're durable, functional, and would dress up any bar. The mikazuki and nisshoku, "crescent moon" and "eclipse," even rest easily around a bottle neck for easy use. And for extra interest, they won't look the same twice; as the metal oxidizes, they'll develop a patina that grows richer over time. 

Photo credits: Tortoise General Store

Notes from London: fresh roots

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Our fearless leader, Kirby, just returned from London with a host of fabulous finds! We particularly love the special stores and eateries known for their independence and commitment to quality. The manifesto of Couverture & The Garbstore, a fashion boutique led by husband-and-wife designers Emily Dyson and Ian Paley, says it all: "We do not carry any clothing that has been bought up and sold out. All of our suppliers are like us. Fighting hard the monsters of the corporation, standing up for quality and better days." Then there's Daylesford Organic farmshop and café, sourcing its food from Daylesford Farm in the English Cotswolds (we're dying to visit!), which has been growing organic for more than 30 years. We're big fans of the sustainable food system Daylesford's supports -- and its delicious organic soup menu: pea and mint; butternut, honey and sage; mushroom and coriander. Wishing we had a Daylesford's near us this winter!

Photo credits: Couverture & The Garbstore, Daylesford Organic, The Londoner

 

Shopping with style and conscience @TOMS

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Today TOMS (of shoe fame) launched The Marketplace, a one-stop shopping destination for all sorts of stylish goods -- from jewelry to tech gadgets -- that benefit people around the globe. What could be better than a Christmas stocking made by artisans in northern India, with proceeds providing more people with jobs? Or a new baby kit with natural bath products and non-toxic patterned diapers (yes, diapers with style!), bringing baby gear to families in need? By joining social enterprises together under The Marketplace umbrella, TOMS shows how easy it is to effect change through our everyday purchases. Think holiday gift-giving, coming up soon! And what if wedding registries pulled from The Marketplace, furnishing new couples' homes while improving education, health, nutrition, water access, and job opportunities? We're excited to buy our next gifts through The Marketplace platform: gifts that keep giving long after they've been received.

Some favorites: 1. Becks Women's Beanie, 2. Signature Urban Rucksack, 3. Nicole Cosmetic Bag, 4. Arrow Lamp, 5. Brown Bracelets, 6. Beech Wood Troubadour Headphones
 

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A New York design studio celebrating simplicity and the little things that count.