Did you know that it's possible to grow gourmet mushrooms on recycled coffee grounds? Learning that fun fact led Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez, then students at UC Berkeley, to conduct a series of experiments in the kitchen of Velez's fraternity house. They ended up with a bucket of oyster mushrooms and ultimately a new career path as full-time urban mushroom farmers. Their Oakland, California-based company, Back to the Roots, sells compact mushroom-growing kits and a fish tank/aquaponics system that grows herbs in its lid. "Our mission is to make food personal again," say Arora and Velez, "through the passionate development of tools that educate and inspire, one family at a time."
A new documentary tracks down and catches up with Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin & Hobbes. Since retiring his beloved comic strip on New Year's Eve 1995, Watterson has lived a very private life in a town outside of Cleveland, Ohio. Dear Mr. Watterson, funded largely by Kickstarter backers, takes a closer look at why his illustrated tales of a boy and his stuffed tiger (who just happen to share names with a couple of famous philosophers) continue to resonate with fans of all ages. "This film is not a quest to find Bill Watterson or to invade his privacy," say the filmmakers. "It is an exploration to discover why his 'simple' comic strip made such an impact on so many readers in the 80s and 90s, and why it still means so much to us today."
What began with a pot of chili, a food photography assignment and a Reddit post soon took on a life of its own for Tyler Capps, the graphic artist and self-taught cook behind Cooking Comically. "I come up with the recipes, cook them, photograph them, draw on them, eat them and share them," he says. "Not necessarily in that order." His web-based collection of illustrated recipes such as Trustfall Chicken, Mash-Tatoes and Bolognese for Days is now available in book form with the publication of Cooking Comically: Recipes So Easy You'll Actually Make Them (Perigee). Break out the spatula and pass the Sexy Pancakes. Notes Capps: "If you aren't having fun when you cook, you're doing it wrong."
Airbnb is always expanding its fun-to-browse, globe-spanning menu of unique accomodations--now the company is looking to tap into its creative customer base for some cinematic fun. Launched this week, Hollywood & Vines will create a short film directed through Twitter and crowdsourced through Vine, the six-seconds-or-less video platform. Ready for your close-up? Act fast. Follow @Airbnb for your shot directions (such "On a floor indoors, a piece of paper slowly crumples itself into a ball."), make a six-second Vine that corresponds to the shot, and tweet it with the tag #AirbnbHV before midnight on August 27. The best Vines will be compiled into a short film that will air online and on the Sundance Channel on September 12.
The last weeks of August never fail to incite nostalgia for childhood summers spent at Kamp Krusty, where we roasted pine cones (yum!) over a campfire of burning, gasoline-soaked tires. If you enjoyed that classic Simpsons reference, pitch a virtual tent at the Simpsons Drawing Club, a collaborative tumblr where artists and cartoonists such as Jack Teagle, Kelly Walton, and Benjamin Wright are joined by an ever-changing line-up of guest artists in putting their own spin on the world's most famous animated family. Our assessment of the site? To quote Mr. Burns, "Excellent!"
Several years ago, in the course of redecorating her Brooklyn apartment, artist Shanan Campanaro discovered that her paintings could be transformed -- with her Central St Martins-trained eye and a bit of computer manipulation -- into mesmerizing abstract wallpaper patterns. An enthusiastic response to her own living room walls and a few commissions prompted her to create Eskayel, a collection of custom wallcoverings that has rapidly expanded into fabrics, rugs and decorative products such as enchanting pillows, scarves and stationery.