Roost + Cultivate Wines

I love photography like the above… that dinner table in candle light… I have an obsession with shots like that. So it’s particularly awesome when those shots also include your wines!! Coco from Roost blog captured the Outstanding in the Field event at Blackberry Farm where Cultivate’s wines were poured!  The shot on the left features Dream Walking, our California Chardonnay.

I’m also so glad to have discovered her blog, it’s another healthy food (no sugar or grains) blog with seriously gorgeous photography!

My New Roots

I have a new obsession: this food and nutrition blog called My New Roots. It’s been around for a while, but I just discovered it, and I’ve been staying up at night reading it. Seriously. In addition to being a chef, the author, Sarah Britton, went to school for holistic nutrition, so the blog has a whole-foods, healthy-eating slant that I love.

With the recipes, Sarah explains the nutritional elements as well, so in addition to your mouth watering, you get the sense that if you make these dishes, you’ll be doing your body major favors.

She doesn’t label herself as vegan, or gluten-free, or raw-foodist, but rather takes a laid back approach to nourishing your body with as nutritious food as you can, and I’m already on board with that, but now I’m finding myself thinking maybe it wouldn’t be that hard to sprout my almonds or make my own almond milk (see video below, it’s really nicely done!). Ha! Things I’d never considered, but now think sound like a really good idea, and not that hard.

For those of you thinking that sounds pretty weird, she does have tons of recipes that are much more normal sounding! It’s just that I’m really loving her nutritional info and tips too! I feel like I’ve already learned so much from reading her blog. I’m currently dying to make this fig-lavender-thyme jam, black quinoa corn muffins, and four corners tomato-lentil soup,


Yesterday, I spent the entire, wonderful day hearing the pitches from the social entrepreneurs who have spent their summers at the Unreasonable Institute’s incubator, and I can’t tell you how unbelievably inspiring it was.

A business plan from a Ugandan for turning agri-waste into eco-friendly charcoal in rural Uganda to prevent de-forestation driven by demand for cooking fuel, an engineer who has created a reusable bag and chemical that clean contaminated water and can be distributed in disaster relief areas instead of (and much more efficiently than) bottled water, and many many more. Y’all, I wish I could fund them all.

I was blown away and my heart was brimming over with excitement that the world contains such creative, smart, passionate people. Their final video pitches aren’t online yet– I’ll post them when they are– but I thought I’d share another cool innovation I recently came across in the meantime.

Featured at the Clinton Global Initiative, The sOccket (seen above) is a soccer ball invented by four girls from Harvard that creates usable energy as it is kicked. 15 minutes of play generates 3 hours of electricity. With 25% of the world lacking electricity, there’s a huge need for innovations like this (also saw some great ones yesterday!).

The ball actually has a socket on it, so a light or cell phone charger can be plugged directly in (learned yesterday that phone charging is in huge demand in areas without electricty… crazy, huh? Phones but no electricity?). Pretty cool, eh?

The video below was created for sOccket in collaboration with American Express’s Member Project.

The Practical Made Beautiful

What you see above is a hydroelectric power station in a medieval town in Germany. ! Oh how I love when practical, necessary things are made beautiful.

A hydroelectric station from the 1950s that supported 3,000 homes with clean energy every year previously existed in this same spot, and when it needed to be rebuilt, the town bypassed plans for a standard station in favor of this more contemporary, sculptural beauty by local firm Becker Architects.

In contrast to most hydroelectric stations, which, by their form, look like the evil sorcerer come to harness the power of the water and beat it into submission, the design of this one takes its direction from water itself– the station has been compared to “a river stone,” “a fish,” “a frozen wave,” and a “stranded whale.”

The approachable, organic form creates a link between the town and the river, where a typical industrial design would have closed one off from the other. The inside, with its arches and curves, is like “a cathedral in raw concrete” and houses the necessary equipment.

photos by Brigida Gonzalez, [via]

Introducing: Cultivate Wines

Finally, I get to share this with you! Get ready for a long post, this is the project I’ve been working on for the last several months, and there’s lots to tell you!

Started by my sister and brother-in-law, I’ve been working with a great team of people to get Cultivate up and running. In short, Cultivate makes (awesome) wines and gives 10% of sales to non-profits supporting education and basic human needs. It’s our hope that in ten years, American consumers will insist, by how they spend their dollars, that the companies they buy from have some sort of socially responsible model. In twenty years, we hope that “buying American” is restored as a positive phrase because American companies will be known for their socially responsible models.

One of my favorite things about Cultivate is that we decided that rather than us choosing where the money we would go, we would let the buyers choose, so we’re setting up a voting platform on our website. First, non-profits submit themselves to have a project at their organization funded by filling out a form and creating a video, and then anyone can vote on which projects they think should be funded.

Another cool thing: in addition to wine in bottles, we’re making wine that comes in really beautiful boxes. That’s right, boxed wine. (And no your eyes do not deceive you– there’s a wine called Wonderlust, named after this blog!!)

Yes, we know there’s still a stigma attached to boxed wine, but sooner or later y’all are going to have to come around– it’s the responsible way to consume wine– it has half the carbon footprint of a bottle due to shipping efficiencies and the material!

Also, if you’re like me, when you want a glass of wine with dinner, you don’t necessarily want to open a whole bottle knowing you’ll pour half of it down the drain later. A boxed wine lasts for up to 6 weeks in the fridge!! So you can have a glass any time you want (ha) without worrying about having to waste wine.

Eventually, people will come to see the box as just another packaging format for wine instead of seeing “boxed wine” as a different thing from bottled wine. There’s no such thing really as “boxed wine”– it’s the same wine you could put in a bottle, but it’s in a box instead. So anyway, all that is to say, a ton of companies have made a lot of headway in dispelling bag-in-box wine, but we’re on a mission to get rid of the stigma for good.

Yet another cool thing about Cultivate: we’re using different designers on each label/box. The bottles and boxes you see above are by 6 different designers/artists!

Shout outs to Lindsay McCabe for Dream Walking, Alvin Diec for Double Blind (remember him from this post? I pulled him in to design a label for us! So fun!), famed photographer Fred Lyon for the Gambler photo (along with Catherine Ray on the text and layout), Leigh Nelson for the Feast, Cynthia Warren for the Copa Cabana and Wonderlust labels (Remember Cynthia from this post? Another Wonderlust hall-of-famer I got to pull in for this project), and Catherine Ray for the Copa and Wonderlust box designs and our LOGO!!

Above is a screenshot from the video below, which is integrated into the banner of the homepage on the site. I’m super excited about this video– stop-motion animation and a chalkboard– two of my favorite things! Thank you to Catherine Ray for writing and drawing the entire thing and to Chip Lay for executing the photography and editing. (Post it to facebook/twitter and help us make it viral!)

Finally, be sure to check out the website to learn more, there are lots of fun things to explore– for example, very non-traditional wine descriptions, non-traditional team bios (mad-libs as bios), and a great blog getting underway. Yesterday’s post was by our winemaker about how to taste wine. I’m so happy with how the site came out (and is still coming along, certain pieces are yet-to-be-launched), so huge thank yous to Leo Basica for designing it and Chip Lay for building it!

PS- you can follow Cultivate to stay up-to-date on everything related to the Cultivate lifestyle (wine, social entrepreneurship, giving, recipes, etc) on twitter and facebook. Follow us/like us!

Ode to J. Peterman

A few months ago, my sister ordered an old J. Peterman catalog for me off eBay after she found out that I only knew J. Peterman as Elaine’s boss on Seinfeld and believing that it would be useful reference material for an upcoming project.

How right she was. I recently retrieved the catalog for a bit of writing inspiration, and I got completely sucked in and read the thing cover to cover. A catalog. So I decided I had to write an ode to the copywriters of J. Pete of old (J. Peterman still exists, I learned today, as an e-store, but the quality of writing seems to have gone downhill). I LOVE the characters and stories they created to give their products life.


What catalog have you read, not just looked at, cover to cover? I don’t think I’ve ever read more winning product descriptions. They sell you through a combination of a narrative details that ignite either nostalgia or imagination (or both) and the description of details and features you never knew you cared about.

There aren’t even photos of the products, you can’t see them in person, and yet, you end up wanting them (ok well not the Judy Tomkins, because those colors sound awful, but I still love the character). That is brilliant marketing.

Do yourself a favor and take a minute to read these. If you have to do any sort of writing, selling, or marketing in your daily life, I’m betting they’ll inspire you.

Call Me Cupcake

To balance out the masculinity of the last post, here’s some feminine frill for today.

I just went on a major food porn bender on Call Me Cupcake, a pastry blog out of Sweden with the most beautiful desserts! Baking is already such a labor of love, and the level of detail she goes to with her pastries takes it to another level (I love those layers of gradient color in the cake above!). My birthday is next week, and I’ve already asked my sister to make me this cake, but now I’m reconsidering… (don’t feel bad for her, she’s the world’s best at birthday cakes.)

PS – Did anyone watch the Bachelorette last night? Because I find it ironic that I came across a blog by this name today after last night in the episode, Ashley H. told one of the guys that she’s always wanted someone to call her cupcake as a nickname and thinks “the man she marries will call her cupcake.” Did anyone else throw up a little bit in their mouth when she said that? I cannot staaand Ashley H.

(And yes, I know the show is terrible and I have no right to expect anything quality out of it, but my roommate and I do a Bachelor fantasy league with a draft and everything, and it makes the show extremely entertaining when you get points for the various absurd things that happen.)

Papercut Stationery

Now these are the kind of cards you’d hang on to.

I am such an admirer of papercut work for the sheer amount of loving attention and time it takes to create. It’s the kind of thing I wish I spent my free time doing– cutting clever crafty cards to send to loved ones– but I’ve had to accept that I never will, and instead I’m glad to find artists like Ashley Pahl who make pretty things like this and sell them to ADD people like me!

PS – Bunting is already one of the best things ever, how freaking cute is it in miniature on a notecard??



Going Solo

Designer Brandt Botes recently decided to go solo with his design business, and he asked a few respected colleagues in the industry who had done the same thing for a little advice. With that advice, he created this stop-motion animation video for the Toffie Festival 2011.

Very useful if you’re a freelancer, and even if you don’t work for yourself, there are some really useful little bits of advice that are relevant no matter your job, and they’re just made more interesting (and credible) by the fact that they were given by people who have successfully gone solo.


I spent a good long while absorbed in the blog Work.Place last night, which documents the working environments of Portland creative types. As one who is not patient enough to ever be a true creative type, I love getting a peek into the setting in which artists and artisas do their thing, where I imagine them abosrbed for hours in their craft… something I’m far too ADD to ever do. The photographer and blogger is Carlie Armstrong, and she takes the photos on a twin lens reflex camera, resulting in a quality (occasionally wonderfully grainy) that I love that seems to add even more mystique to the settings she documents.

I’ve also never been to Portland and am loving the impression of the place that this blog is giving me… now want to go visit even more!

If you like this blog, also check out Ginny Branch‘s column on design*sponge called What’s in Your Toolbox.

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