They say our sense of smell is deeply tied to memory. Just think of when someone walks by wearing the same cologne as your high school boyfriend- you know what I'm talking about. Some of my favorite scents are alfalfa and hay which remind me of my grandparents horse ranch, the salty air at the ocean, woodsmoke, and coffee. I also love the smell of pine sap, and baking from the kitchen which remind me of Christmas. One way you can bring up that aroma this time of year is to slowly simmer dry whole spices, like cinnamon sticks. We have a nice gas fireplace stove in our living room with a ledge deep enough to hold a small enamel pot, and I've been keeping cinnamon simmering throughout our recent cold snap. All you need is your pick of dry whole spices like cinnamon sticks, whole nutmeg berries, cloves, rosemary, pine needles. Add to a pot with water and a little oil (I used jojoba), bring to a simmer on a stove top and cozy up with a warm blanket...
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Friday, December 6, 2013
While doing display work for Anthropologie, my favorite projects involve chopping and drilling wood, which I seem to be doing quite often for holiday installations. I'm really getting into using power tools- you can do so much with just a few pieces of equipment. Motivated to try it at home, I designed this birch log candle project for my Thanksgiving table. You can find birch logs in packs of 3 at Michael's for about $20. Clustered on a table they create beautiful, ambient fire light, especially perfect for winter time...
Power drill with 1 1/2" bit
Tape (for marking the bit)
Find the best, natural position for the log to rest, and mark evenly spaced 1 1/2" slots for the candles. Mark the bit to the depth of the candle. Holding the log steady with one hand, bore holes with the drill keeping constant, firm pressure, until the bit reaches the line of tape. Reverse twist, brush off the dust and insert tea lights.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Leading up to every major family gathering, someone in our immediate family gets wicked sick. It's a fact. There was the great summer flu of 2010, where we wiped out the entire family while on vacation in Pajaro Dunes. We had already established ourselves as Typhoid Mary the Thanksgiving prior when my nephew Luke was born, and we promptly dismantled the family including the new baby with a preschool acquired tummy bug. Last year when we hosted Christmas, my husband and I passed a doozy of a stomach flu onto the family, sidelining my sister-in-law Stacey from New Years festivities. For a family that rarely gets sick, we sure choose to do so at the worst times. So this last week we were not all that surprised when Wylie spiked a fever and evacuated from every orifice the day before Thanksgiving, the dinner we were to be hosting. The whole family decided to come anyway, and we're still waiting to find out who we've knocked down. Jasper came down with it on Saturday, and is just now feeling better.
I think it's time to cleanse. Wylie and I worked on a magic potion together today and we think it's just what's needed to make us well. We named it Christmas Juice after it's pretty holiday ingredients. It's made with cranberries, astringent and excellent for cleansing the kidneys and liver, sweet ripe pears rich in fiber and Vitamin C, Antioxidant powerhouse kale and tummy-soothing ginger. The juice was delicious, our little Typhoid Mary drank his entire 4oz serving in a matter of seconds. He even tried a few raw cranberries on their own (so tart!) and liked them. Here's to our health!
3-4 4oz servings
1 cup cranberries
2 ripe pears
2 tbsp fresh ginger
1/2 bunch kale
Here's the juicer we love...
Sunday, December 1, 2013
I suspect that many of us will be rushing to get our Christmas trees this weekend or next, because December just sort of snuck up right after Thanksgiving. We ventured out to Moon Mountain in Sonoma for our annual tree hunt, where we snagged a 14' Norway Pine, which we had cut in half, creating a slender tree for our living room, and a big bushy fella with old fashioned lights for outside our back cottage. I wired it's upper branches to shape it into a Christmas tree. For our indoor tree I wanted to keep things more delicate. I've always admired the clean lines of the Scandinavian style potted live tree- I think it looks so much more buttoned up than a skirted stand, but a 7ft cut tree needs a substantial base to keep it upright, so until this year I made do with creative tree skirts like last year's cut paper version. For this year, I designed a basket stand using an abaca woven storage bin and a standard issue metal tree stand. In just a few steps, you will have a sturdy, understated base to surround with pretty packages!
1 large, flat bottomed storage basket (20-24")
1 metal tree stand
Mark the location for clipping using a piece of masking tape. Snip 2" across to make a slot for base legs. Insert legs, and build stand from inside basket. The bowl should touch the bottom of the basket and the legs should rest on the floor.
Insert tree into stand, positioning with screws, we used stick for shims as our Norway Pine has a thin trunk. Fill base with water and adorn!
Just a reminder, Monday is the last day to used code "poppyhaus" to get one third off luxe holiday cards with Pinhole Press.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
So here it is, the official 2013 Jennings Family holiday card. When they arrived in the mail last week I tore open the package and did a little fist pump. Yes, my dudes look very handsome, and the design of the card is my kind of understated, but the best part about these cards is the way they feel. They delight the part of my brain that appreciates high quality paper. When Pinhole Press contacted me to see if I'd be interested in using their site to create my holiday cards I knew I had to get the ultra-thick stock. Look closer...
Friday, November 22, 2013
I have a real thing for gold leaves right now. It started with the lantern, but as I was thinking ahead to the holidays I liked the idea of using gilded fall leaves with candles for this year's late Thanksgiving, which is also the second day of Hanukkah (Challah stuffing),and continuing the look through Christmas and into New Years, when I'll be hosting a fancy dress party for Adam's 40th birthday. I love the understated look of naked wood, white ceramics and gilded bits of trees. They are neutrals that play with light, and when you add a secondary color, like crimson red for Christmas or a royal blue for New Years it completely changes the mood of the design. I felt pretty validated about my obsession when I got the new Dwell Studio catalog in the mail yesterday and this was on the cover:
Oh Dwell, you and I are kindred spirits. To create a look like this for the holidays, all you have to do is go outside and gather. Gather leaves, branches, pine cones, acorns...whatever appeals to you, everything looks amazing with a little gold metallic spray. Make sure your bits of nature are completely dry before applying paint, thin applications at a time to ensure even coverage.
I have a million little white ceramic vessels, most of which I found at IKEA in the garden department, or at thrift stores. I use them as bud vases and votive holders all over the house. I also hoard white dishes, different patterns for different courses, scraped together from Anthropologie, estate sales, some inherited, some from Target (their Threshold collection rocks). Mixing and matching whites adds texture and interest, but keeps things simple and they work with anything.
Have a very Happy Thanksgiving! xoxo, Heather
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Did you know that simmering avocado skins and pits in water for about an hour will render a dusty pink dye? I'm making all kinds of nerdy discoveries this week as I work on a term project for my Textiles class. I'll share the finished project with you next week, but in the mean time here are some pictures and a little bit about what I've learned so far...
Onion skins=a warm yellow dye. Hot tip, scrape them from bottom of the grocery store bin, because peeling a bunch of onions is no fun.
Waste not: Black beans render a blue-gray dye, and if you boil them in a clean pot, once you extract the liquid, you can use the beans for cooking. How's that for multi-tasking?
Making natural dye is only half the work. You must prepare the wool for dyeing by soaking it for hours, then simmering it in a pot with a mordant (like Alum and Cream of Tarter) to ensure it holds the dye. I'm going to be a pro when it comes to Easter Eggs this year.
Friday, November 15, 2013
Introducing Snow Ball, our papier mache rabbit, rescued from the rubbish bin of the Anthropologie display room. I brought her home for the boys and as I suspected, they immediately made "SB" our pet. Here she is modeling for this year's first holiday decor DIY: Woolen Trees. I've been working a lot with wool yarns for my textile class, and it's becoming my new favorite material for decorations. For this first project I wrapped wool yarn around cardboard cone bases to create a textile forest. See tutorial below!
To make Woolen Trees, you will need:
Cardboard Cones (Found at Michael's)
Knitting Wool (or acrylic), use Ivory for snow
Scotch or Masking Tape
Portion out a few feet of yarn. Start at the top, layer a strand of yarn over the tip and secure with tape. Wind around in concentric layers about 1/4 way down the cone. Secure end of strand with tape, and add second color. Wind to base and dot with hot glue to secure final layer. If the tip is popping up a bit, secure with a small dot of hot glue to reinforce.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Friday, November 8, 2013
I know, I know, my presentation is a bit "Christmassy" when we are barely into November- there's a good reason. I designed this DIY for Apartment Therapy's Homemade Holiday Gift Idea Exchange, a clever series where bloggers share their ideas for making handmade holiday presents. I chose to share this project, because it's something that kids and grown-ups can work on together. Fancy magnets make a great all-purpose gift for teachers, co-workers, friends, and as stocking stuffers- they aren't something you buy for yourself, and they can really spruce up the fridge. Get creative! Use different shaped cookie cutters to personalize your magnets. I used white clay, because I love Jonathan Adler, but oven bake clay comes in a variety of colors. My project will be up on AT later today. Here's the link to the entire series: Homemade Holiday Gift Idea Exchange.
Here's how to make them:
Preheat oven to 275 degrees
1. On a sheet of wax paper, roll out clay until it is smooth, and uniformly 1/4" thick
2. Cut the circles with the cookie cutter
3. Using the tip of handle of a wooden spoon or the back side of a clay cutting tool, make uniform divets about 1/8" deep into the clay, taking care not to get too close to the edges or it will warp the shape.
4. Bake on a wax paper-lined sheet pan for 15 minutes.
5. Allow to cool completely on a rack.
6. Apply magnets to the back side of the clay disk using a pea-size amount of hot glue. Press firmly and allow to set for one minute.
I used the top to a small gift box, hand-lined with glued down decorative paper to display the magnets for gifting. Simply apply a small amount of rubber cement to the magnet and press onto the paper. The magnets will stay put until pulled off, the rubber cement will stay on the paper.
Monday, November 4, 2013
I don't know if I ever formally announced this on Poppy Haus, but I started a visual display internship with Anthropologie last month; the best part of which is the opportunity to create three dimensional art installations out of ordinary materials "as a job", because as you know, I really like doing it for my home. Today's post has been in the works and a little delayed because of my ever tightening schedule with school, interning, blogging and kid wrangling. I am very excited to share this new paper lantern project, particularly because it's a project that you can do with kids, at least the leaf collecting part (we got our leaves from Jasper's school). The lantern can hang from a string or can be illuminated with a light cord. Here are some more pictures and a tutorial.
When illuminated, the lantern creates a dim, ambient light a bit like candlelight.
To make your own, you'll need a rice paper lantern (this one is 14") a paper grocery bag full of intact,fallen leaves (completely dry), metallic gold spray paint, and hot glue.
The first step is to spray paint the lantern gold in two, light applications.
Next, spray paint the leaves gold, front and back. Allow to dry completely.
Begin assembly by turning the lantern upside down and starting from the base, hot glue a the leaves around the opening, stems pointing up toward the top. Slightly overlap the edges of the leaves to create movement.
Continue layering the leaves in circles around the lantern until reaching the top opening. The stems should gather pointing toward the metal hanging piece at the opening.
Hang from a gold thread, rope, or from a light cord to illuminate the lantern.