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Hmmm, I guess it’s vintage ceramics week at Door Sixteen! On Sunday I shared the vintage Mexican nesting bowls I bought (thank you SO MUCH for all of the informative comments about their likely origins), and it made me want to take pictures of some of my other recent finds. I always seem to gravitate toward ceramics when I’m on the hunt, even if I’m just at the Goodwill.

Anyway, how about these espresso cups and saucers?! I bought them from the Etsy seller House of Séance, who have all kinds of great vintage stuff for sale. I love that the triangles appear to be hand-painted rather than silkscreened, making each cup unique. I think geometric designs look best when they’re a bit irregular.

(By the way, I wish I could remember who tipped me off to the Etsy listing for the cups. They sat on my Etsy wishlist for months before I went ahead and bought them, and in the interim I lost track. Thank you, whoever you are!)

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The cups and saucers don’t appear to have ever been used, and they’re in great condition—pretty much perfect, in fact. The bottoms all have intact ‘Design by Jonas Roberts; Made in Japan’ stickers on them. Searching for Jonas Roberts brings up loads of results for mid-century ceramics, and this particular design is either from the 1950s or ’60s, depending on whose information you trust. There’s also a teapot, sugar bowl, ashtrays, and even a lighter with this design—and it came in orange, too. Sale prices are all over the place, but I paid $55 for my set of six cups and saucers—$9/set seems like a huge bargain to me!

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Full disclosure: I made this cup of espresso purely for the sake of taking a nice photo. It’s decaf (ugh…), so I didn’t mind tossing it out after. I would really like to put the cups into regular use, but I want to test the glaze for lead first. This subject came up in the comments when I posted about the bowls the other day, so I thought I’d mention in this post as well. Vintage ceramics very often contain lead (as do some contemporary pieces from parts of the world where lead use is unregulated), and even if the glaze is in perfect condition, lead can leach into your food/drink if it’s liquid/hot/acidic, etc. Coffee is liquid, hot, and acidic, so it’s no joke! Even the porcelain glaze on old sinks and bathtubs can contain lead, which is part of the reason why we had ours sandblasted down to bare iron and powder-coated. As exciting as it sounds, I don’t want to take hot lead baths.

That said, not ALL vintage ceramics are lead-ridden, so it can’t hurt to test and find out. Sometimes the white glaze on the inside of a cup is fine, and the lead is contained in the outside designs only. It’s a judgement call, of course, but in that situation I’d be fine using the cup. I also have no concerns about using my vintage tablewares to serve dry foods (crackers, cookies, etc.). Obviously I make sure that there isn’t any glaze flaking off! If a piece is really rough, it’s relegated to display purposes only.

3M LeadCheck swabs are readily available, not terribly expensive, and seem to get the best reviews of the various lead testing kits out there. It’s not a perfect test, and you may get false negatives if the lead content in a glaze isn’t in contact with the swab, but it’s at least a starting point. When you live in an old house, you kind of just have to accept that lead will be a part of your life—but I think it’s worth being safe when you can. If these espresso cups do turn out to have lead in them, I’m just fine putting them up on a shelf and admiring them with my eyes instead of my tongue.

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Oh boy. You know how sometimes work vacations wind up being worse than not taking a vacation at all? That’s how I’m feeling about this Monday. I took TWO WHOLE WEEKS off work, and now I’m in a panic about how in the world I’m going ever going to catch up on everything when I get back into the office. Ugh. I’ve been trying to get as much stuff as possible done at the house during my time off, but exhaustion has gotten the better of me and I’m feeling a bit guilty about not having done more. Ugh again.

Anyway, I do have ONE LAST DAY to check things off my to-do list before I have to switch back into work mode, so I’m making a sub-to-do list of what I (reasonably) think I can get done today.

Do these things:
✚ Take photos of stuff for eBay auctions
Take photos of dining room
Brush Bruno
Laundry
Clean bathrooms
✚ Organize pantry
Set up kitchen coffee area
Bring stuff down to basement
Frame and hang at least one more thing
One more trip to Goodwill? Nope.
✚ Sand, patch and prime benches
✚ Make hook for ceramic planter

Do not do these things:
✚ Drink too much coffee

I’m serious about that last thing there. I have been drinking SO MUCH COFFEE during my vacation. Way too much. It’s just so easy and so delicious and so addictive. I don’t want to eliminate coffee from my life, but I gotta get myself back down to a single cup a day. OK, maybe I’ll wait until Monday to cut back, because today is going to be hectic and I want to get a little coffee area all set up in the kitchen and it’ll be right there. But then tomorrow is going to be even more hectic…hmmm. Tuesday? Tuesday. Less coffee on Tuesday.

iced coffee + almond milk

I’ve always kind of thought that making your own almond milk is a little like making your own crackers or shoes. If you have the time to do it, cool, knock yourself out! In the mean time, I’ll be over here buying a perfectly nice carton of almond milk and a box of Triscuits. A few weeks ago, though, Evan and I were up in Kingston checking out Daniel and Max’s new house (side note: OMG!!!), and we stopped in at a super-cute antique store/café, Outdated. As usual, I was on the hunt for an iced coffee, so I checked with the girl at the counter to see if they have soy milk. She told me no, they only have almond milk — and then added (surely noticing the look of disappointment on my face, because who likes almond milk in coffee?), “But it’s homemade! It’s really good!”

And so it was. Like, really, really good.

I put my trust in Angela’s recipe for almond milk and gave it a shot. Incredibly, I already had a nut milk bag on hand and I just fixed our busted blender, so I didn’t really have any excuses. IT WAS SO EASY, GUYS. I know people like ♥ Martha Stewart ♥ like to say stuff that isn’t easy is easy just so the rest of us feel badly about our inadequacies, but making your own almond milk? EASY. Washing the blender is the hardest part, and once you quit being a baby and just wash the thing even that isn’t so bad. If you need more convincing, watch Honey LaBronx — a.k.a. The Vegan Drag Queen — make almond milk. If she and I can do it, so can you.

Not only is it easy, it’s also DELICIOUS. Wayyyyyy better than any store-bought almond milk. The nicest part is that you can control how much liquid you use, so you can make a thicker, creamier milk if you want. This could be the end of buying boxed soy creamer for me, which would be a huge plus given the price of that stuff — not to mention the iffy ingredients in some brands. I drink stupid amounts of iced coffee when it’s hot out, so anything I can do to make that a cheaper, healthier and more delicious experience is worth it.

Speaking of iced coffee, YES, I still use my Bodum iced coffee press, and YES, I still love it.

(I just went over to Oh She Glows to get the almond milk recipe link, and I see that Angela is also writing about homemade almond milk with cold-brewed iced coffee. Hah! See that? I’m not lying — it’s so good!)

Now I want to try making other nut milks. Cashew milk, definitely! Hazelnut milk?? Hmmm. What other nut milks should I try?

I have a problem with buying mugs. I love coffee (and tea, and spiced almond milk), and there’s just something about drinking it from a perfectly-weighted, beautifully-designed mug that makes the whole experience so much nicer. I’m not content to stop with a set of 8 matching mugs, though—no, I need to keep buying more and more mugs (usually in pairs, with the odd single here and there) and consequently finding more and more places to stash them. There are certain ones I prefer for weekday mornings, others that feel right on a Sunday, and the ones I gravitate toward when I’m being stupid and drinking coffee at 10:00 at night.

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1. Bono mugs by Catharina Kippel, Design House Stockholm

Of all of the mugs featured here, these are the only ones I own. Actually, I only own the two in the top row—I have four of each! For a short period of time several years ago, C&B was selling these mugs individually for a great price, so I stocked up out of fear that they’d break easily and then I’d be sad. Happily, they’re all still in great shape! When I have guests, these are the mugs I serve coffee in. They’re also the ones Evan and I use most frequently on weekends. I love love love them.

2. Black Dot mugs, Schoolhouse Electric

I’m obsessed with these mugs. Every time I see a picture of one on Jen’s Instagram, I am filled with lust and greed. Don’t they just look like they’d be so nice to hold?! The little ones are particularly well-proportioned. I love how creamy the white is…I bet they’d look really good in my kitchen.

3. Yellow Fire-King mug, Vint

I’m a sucker for bright yellow, and I love Fire-King glassware. I saw this mug at Vint last night and had to force myself to not buy it. It’s like drinking out of a lemon! Perfect for tea.
Vint is kindly offering a 16% discount for anything in the shop until 12/20. Use the code DOOR16 at checkout!

4. Black Harlequin and Gold Harlequin Thermo mugs, Ferm Living

I pretty much want everything at Ferm Living, these mugs included. I was concerned about the lack of handles at first (I have a few handle-less mugs, and I always wind up having to hold them with napkins), but then I realized they’re actually “thermo” mugs. They have a dual-wall design, so your coffee stays nice and hot inside, but the part that touches your hand is cool. Neat!

coffee mugs

5. Arne Jacobsen letter cups, Finnish Design Shop

Yeah, I know I just said I’m averse to handle-less mugs, but LOOK AT THESE. Worth the burns. (Or, you know, you could keep pencils in them. Or let your coffee cool down and stop being so impatient.) I first spotted these letter cups at Design Milk months and months ago, and I can’t stop thinking about them. The typography dates back to Arne Jacobsen’s signage design for Aarhus City Hall from 1937, and it still looks fresh and modern today. I’d love to have a digitized version of this typeface for my own use!

6. Tu Es La Vague cup, House of Rym

The entire House of Rym product line is beautiful. The ceramics are designed by Swedes Anna Backlund and Elisabeth Dunker (my favorite!). It’s probably not enough to just buy one cup, though, since they look so great when combined with a mismatched saucer as part of a mismatched set. So many pretty photos of all of the options on Elisabeth’s blog!

7. Stig Lindberg Bersa cup & saucer, Huset

Eternal wish-list item. Sigh. What is it with Swedes and ceramics? What is it with Swedes and everything? I’ve been dreaming about owning a set of Stig Lindberg cups and saucers for years, but they look so delicate. I’d probably drop them all in the first week and be sad forever. So pretty from afar, though.

8. Silkkikuikka Mug, Marimekko

Any mug with FIVE Ks in its name is good enough for me! I can tell you from experience that the handles on Marimekko mugs are perfectly positioned for maximum comfort. They’re a pleasure to hold, and small enough that your coffee doesn’t cool down too much before you get to the bottom.

OK, now I want coffee…


“David Lynch Signature Cup Coffee” commercial // Directed by David Lynch, 2012

Last year, I posted about the first commercial for David Lynch Signature Cup Coffee, and boy, was it a doozy. I’m not one to get overly excited about advertisements, but that ad made me not only want to buy David Lynch Signature Cup Coffee for drinking purposes, but also for bathing, tooth-brushing, and as an eyedrop substitute. It was that good.

So here’s the new one. Oh yeah.

p.s. Have you ever watched David Lynch cook quinoa for 20 minutes?

I spent the last couple of nights of 2011 painting the long side wall in our dining room black, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. The living room and dining room are right in line with each other, railroad-style, so visually it’s just a continuation of the black wall in the living room.

The house is very narrow (20 feet wide, including the entry hallway), and the black wall adds some depth to the room in a nice way. Also, since the dining room doesn’t get a lot of natural light, the dark paint has a richness to it even in the daytime that makes the room feel cozier than it did before…and, as in the living room, it brings in a bit of formality that feels right in a Victorian house. Personally, I think black walls get written off as being cold or depressing far too often! Elvis agrees, as you can see.

As in the living room, the bedroom, and the apartment kitchen, I used Benjamin Moore’s ‘Soot’ with a matte finish. It’s actually the deepest, darkest indigo blue imaginable and not a true black, but that’s what gives it that extra oompf.

(How is this plant still alive?! I always forget about it, and it’s right next to a heater, so it’s been teetering on the edge of death for years.)

Coffee + Music + Painting = My default comfort mode during vacations. Seriously, once I get going with painting stuff, I feel really good. It’s definitely one of those tasks that inevitably takes ten times longer than you imagine it will, but the impact is so worth it in the end. I can’t imagine paying someone else to paint walls for me! The payoff when the work is done is just way too satisfying.

Speaking of painting, if you want to know how I do it and the steps I recommend, shuffle over to Manhattan Nest and read Daniel’s post about the whole process. I prefer Aura over Regal, but other than that, we pretty much do things the same way, right down to the Wooster paintbrushes. What he says about painter’s tape? That’s the truth. Don’t do it. Especially in an old house. Yes, I freehand everything, even black paint that butts right up against white.

I didn’t take any full-length shots of the dining room yet because things are still looking like this, but that’s just because we’re getting ready to build new bookshelves. That’s what all of this fancy plywood is for! Yay.

P.S. There’s an Instagram gallery right here on the blog now. I used a plugin called Instapress to create it. It’s a teeny bit buggy, but good enough!


“David Lynch Signature Cup Coffee” commercial // Directed by David Lynch, 2011

This is, by far, the finest commercial ever made. Really—watch this (the whole thing) and tell me you don’t want to run out and buy a bag (or a dozen bags) of David Lynch Signature Cup Coffee RIGHT NOW. Even if you’re not a coffee drinker. You want it, right?

A few months ago, Daniel and I went to see a movie* at the IFC Center, and I noticed David Lynch’s coffee for sale at the concession stand, and even though it was in no way presented as a being a joke product, I was kind of baffled by its existence.

Well, no longer. It all makes perfect sense to me now. You know, in the same way that Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway make sense. As in, not at all. But it’s good anyway, and my life won’t be the same without it.

I love David Lynch. I also love coffee.

*We went to see Tiny Furniture, and it was very enjoyable. The 24-year-old writer and director is also the protagonist, and her real-life mother and sister play her movie mother and sister and the whole thing is set in her mother’s (GORGEOUS AND AMAZING) real-life apartment—yet the entire thing is fictional. And she made it for $25,000. Recommended!