The Good Stuff: Maps on Maps on Maps, an Aurora Named Steve, and Some Radically Unusual Caterpillars

It's not often that I sit down long enough to watch anything on TV and when I do it's usually just something quick on Netflix, but this week I got hooked on a new show called Abstract: The Art of Design (I can't recommend it enough!). The episode that really hooked me was about architect Bjarke Ingels and the work he's done, but the episode that made me have an absolute moment of joy featured Paula Scher, a graphic designer who also paints .....MAPS.  The inspiration I felt from her episode could not have come at a more perfect time as I wait to hear back about whether I got into the grad school I have applied for. I'm hoping to get in so I can get my Master's in GIS (geographic information systems) and then who knows! Maybe one day I'll be making maps, too!

Now, enjoy some good stuff to get you over the hump into the weekend!

Veinous Blood Red. Broccoli Brown. Smoke Grey.  The forgotten color language of 19th-century naturalists.  

Your brain on plants: Amazon's new corporate biodome

I just love that this book features an illustrated blob fish

In praise of the mundane, unquantifiable, impractical activities that feed creative work and fill life with meaning.

Mapping literary worlds

Some thoughts on work-life balance

Studies link intellectual humility with openness to other viewpoints. 

This article really sums up why I struggle with text messages (and other contextless forms of communication). 

Radically unusual caterpillars

I just discovered Tea.O.Graphy and I'm quite smitten with it. 

More reasons to get outside: What working in a dark office may do to your brain

A meteorite encrusted with diamonds. 

Eastern Europe's Walt Disney

The art of Kip Omolade is completely blowing my mind....

....Even more mind-blowing: this photo of a single atom

Sign me up for one of each of these après-ski cocktails (Lake Tahoe I'm looking at you!)

Awesome flora and fauna street art murals by Amok Island.

The coolest (and weirdest) things people have found tucked between the pages of books.

A-frame cabins, be still my heart. 

These women are breaking traveling stereotypes and setting world records.

You have to check out these 37 Native American artists

A pilgrimage to an ancient......penis monastery

This photographer is capturing the last remaining Muslim women with facial tattoos.

Amateur scientists discovered a new type of Aurora.  It's purple and they named it Steve.


The Good Stuff: Signs of Creative Resistance at The 2018 Women's March, Obama's Playlist, and All My Library Love

January is almost over.  Can I get an AMEN?!

I shouldn't complain because it has been a truly amazing month, but good grief I need winter to slow its roll.  The good news is I'm feeling the angles of the sun changing ever so slightly and the days getting ever so slightly longer and it makes me feel glad.  Spring will soon be on its way. Okay, maybe not that soon..... but let a girl be hopeful!

Now, BOOM. Good Stuff.  Read it. Love it. Share it. 

Oh, and don't forget! All Valentines and custom glassware are currently 10% off in the shop through February 8th! Hurryyyyyyyy!!!

Signs of creative resistance at the 2018 Women's March.

It's long past Christmas, but I couldn't help but include what happens when major architects design gingerbread houses

Obama's favorite tunes. 

Predict the new year with the Swedish tradition of årsgång.  

Then there is this glorious deep sea jelly

Must visit! This little town in New York has a population of fewer than 500 people, but (count 'em!) 5 indie books stores.

In defense of keeping arts in the schools:  What does learning look like? A well-tuned orchestra in your head! 

Building stronger communities through the arts

Oh heyyyyy! Pour me another matcha!  A study shows that tea drinkers may be more creative!

Who was Selma Burke? If you look at a dime, you can see a piece of her work! (hint: she was an outstanding African American sculptor whose work is usually mis-credited to white men). 

You might think an article about Ecuadoran fungi would be boring, but if you click through to check out the pictures (and you don't want to miss the video!), you would be sorely mistaken. The beauty boggles the mind. NEATURE! It's pretty neat! :D   --there's more where that came from! Check out my Nature Blowing My Mind pinboard here

My (not-so-hidden) inner goth kid LOVES this home in San Fran. 

I just followed this Insta account featuring itty bitty paintings on tea bags.

A hallway turned into a library. I am obsessed

The Inuit woman who survived the arctic alone.  Talk about Girl Power. 

The arsenic-laden "Shadows From The Walls Of Death" should not be touched without gloves. 

Cartography nerds, come explore the earliest known map of the world

Walking as creative fuel. 


The Good Stuff: New Years Resolutions, Music-Playing Plants, and Friluftsliv (read on to learn what it means!)

It's January 2nd and you know what that means...

New Year's Resolutions are back. 

Yep. Time to take a second or two to feel bad about all the Christmas cookies you jammed into your belly or the less than kind words you uttered to Uncle Bob about his political idiocy and to proclaim a New You! 

If it sounds like I'm jaded it's because, well.... I am. 

I usually forgo resolutions.  I tend to see them as a way to just make yourself feel worse about things that will inevitably fall by the wayside.  

Upon reviewing my attitude this year, however, I came to a realization. (Because while I'm a turd about them, it doesn't mean I don't always consider what my resolutions would be. Hypothetically. If I were to make them.) And yes, this year even I decided to make a resolution.

My 2018 resolution is to 

forgive myself more

I am so hard on myself.  I bully myself daily about my weight or my income or my relationship status (or lack thereof).  I compare myself to all my "successful" friends who own homes and have happy marriages and work meaningful careers.  And I need to stop.  I need to give myself a break.  I'm doing the best I can every day, and that needs to be okay.  

So I, Britta, hereby declare this will be a year of self-forgiveness.  I'm excited and hopeful about it.  


And then, of course, never to be forgotten, I have some awesome stuff for you to click on!  Happy New Year, friends!

What music-playing plants can teach us about consciousness. 

13 wonderful libraries and the old treasures that lie within. 

That is friluftsliv, and what Sweden can teach us about parenting and the outdoors. 

A little belated, but I dig The New York Public Library's most festive cartographic treasures

I am so smitten by this building's exterior!

100 gorgeous resin skulls in Melbourne. 

This stunning rare blue moth was recently hasn't been spotted for 130 years! 

On neuroaesthetics, or the productive activity of looking at art

Ancient women were strong AF

A Plant Truck?! I've gotta visit!

The best places to visit, nature-lovers edition. 

How to organize your book collection your way. 

You don't have to ask me twice--I'm always down to hit the slopes!  If you're not so easily convinced, here are the mental benefits of skiing.  


The Good Stuff: The Art of Being Alone, A Visit to Teakettle Junction, and The Most Glorious Cactus Paintings EVER

Oh my gosh, you guys. Can you even believe it's December?! This year... I'm tellin' ya.

We are officially neck deep in the holiday season.  Bert+Lou Holiday cards are fully stocked, I'm planning on making some cookies on my next day off, and may even hit up the local Christkindl market this weekend (bonus points for festivity if it snows like they say it's supposed to!).  I'm making it a real point to take time to do things that bring me joy this year.  Last Christmas I was an emotional wreck (recent traumatic breakup, a forced move, majorly crushed ego, badly missed my sister, a beloved pet died, etc...), so my goal is to enjoy the season a little more this time around. That means more cookies, more self-care spa nights, more Motown and N*SYNC Christmas songs, and more spending time with people I genuinely love being around.

What are you doing to get in the spirit? 

I am absolutely OBSESSED with these tattoos by Pony Reinhardt.  Do you think I should finally get my otter tattoo?

Need to visit: In Catalonia, a church becomes a place of artistic pilgrimage.

The value of being alone.  The art of being alone

The art of the Japanese teapot

I struggle almost daily with the knowledge that I currently don't and might not ever want/have children.  I've found a bit of reassurance here and here. (You can find a more extreme example here.)

There is an actual grasshopper in this Van Gogh painting!

An art historian's insightful views into the depiction of tattoos in Japanese art and culture. 

The Wing's Lady Library

Seriously dreamy: The best cabin getaways

THIS swoon-worthy chandelier that I NEED but that is so far out of my budget (sobs internally).

Starbucks is releasing a special addition juniper latte that sounds either amazing or repulsive, I can't decide.  What do you think??

For the first time in U.S. history, women are better educated than their husbands.  BOOYA.

A holiday survival guide for introverts. 

The art of hand-painted ski maps

I'd love to make a trip to Death Valley's Tea Kettle Junction!

I can't even begin to fathom the process required to create these towering cactus paintings


What Do You Do When It's Thanksgiving But You Don't Feel Very Thankful?

Spoiler alert:

I deal with depression.  

I'm usually pretty good at keeping it under control but lately, well.....not so much.  

Which is why I'm struggling to feel thankful today.

That's not to say I have a shitty life by any means.  Au Contraire!  I have friends, family, a home, food, and a job I like to go to.  But knowing I have a pretty good life and FEELING it are totally different things.

There's something about this time of year that makes old hurts flair up and losses feel particularly strong.  Call it seasonal depression or not, the holidays are frickin HARD. Doubly so when you're already sad.

It's hard to feel grateful when your past haunts you.  It's hard to feel grateful when you're acutely aware of the pain felt by indigenous communities over the decimation and corruption of their culture and the ruination of a tradition that was originally theirs by non-indigenous Americans. It's hard to feel grateful when you live far away from the people you love and their absence at the table makes the day seem incomplete.  It's hard to feel grateful when you wake up hurting.  Sometime's it's just really hard to feel grateful.

I actually never really liked Thanksgiving (I know, I know....Sacrilege!).  I don't care for the food (too rich, too much meat). I absorb the stress and negativity that surrounds the guaranteed family bickering like a motherflippin sponge.  I feel obligated to spend the whole day eating and cleaning and mediating and doing things that I'd rather not do, all at the expense of being able to do what I would like (go be outdoors, read, sit in silence, paint, enjoy a nap).  The mythical Thanksgiving of a day spent relaxing and not feeling stressed with friends and family totally alludes me.  

Since I'm being a huge Debbie Downer today and I know it, I've decided to take charge and come up with a list of things I'm grateful for.  Below I have listed what I was able to come up with before I started getting hassled into helping (sorry Mom!).  I'd love to know what you'd add to your list.  Feel free to leave me a comment below!  And oh yeah, Happy Thanksgiving. :)


  1. a home with functioning heat and not having to live in a box on the sidewalk under a bridge
  2. friends who truly GET me and embrace my own unique psycho
  3. my new perfect grunty niece
  4. margaritas. also tacos
  5. doughnuts
  6. my sweet kitties who give me all the snuggles when I'm sad
  7. plants
  8. snuggly blankets and a fireplace
  9. the ability to make my own autonomous decisions (even if they're bad ones!)
  10. the most amazing and chill manager of all time
  11. days when the sun comes out
  12. days where nothing hurts
  13. the smell of breakfast cooking
  14. my poor broken little vehicle that still gets me around without complaint
  15. having paid off at least some of my student debt
  16. having shoes and a warm coat
  17. my prior travels
  18. anyone who buys my art
  19. Joe Biden
  20. being able to afford Christmas present for people this year (something I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do just a few months ago!)
  21. my heaps of books
  22. Colorado, mountains, desert...the west in general
  23. still having both my parents
  24. any time spent with my sister
  25. being able to see color