Monday, April 30, 2012

You Are My Fave

Here are some pictures of the "Favorite Things" party we held this weekend at Little Farm.  The weather was beautiful and the cows were hungry. Our adult guests were treated to a delicious picnic lunch complete with fried chicken, potato salad, coleslaw and biscuits.  The kids snacked on prepacked lunches including peanut butter and honey sandwiches with the crusts cut off which I wrapped in wax paper and sealed with a quick custom masking tape.  The hit of the party was the kids table which I decorated with kraft paper and a few of Wylie's favorite things like trains, dinosaurs and a bag of costumes (including capes).  It also housed the cupcakes, vanilla with vanilla frosting, which were topped with miniature figurines of zoo and farm animals, and more dinosaurs.  I made an animal food station packed in the boys Ikat Easter Baskets, which we used to bag portions of food to feed the cows, goats, sheep and chickens. At the end of the day, the kids took home their W favor bags filled with animal crackers.    

Thank you to Jennifer Daily for providing some of the pictures for this post!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Give Me Shelter

One of my favorite scenes from a movie took place inside a house-tent in The Royal Tenenbaums.  Richie and Margot sat listening to "She Smiled Sweetly" by The Rolling Stones and shared a real moment. It was an illuminated hideaway in their otherwise chaotic childhood home.  I think I've secretly wanted a little tent in my house ever since.  Fast forward 11 years.  My son Wylie has the tiniest shoe box of a room.  It holds a crib, a small dresser and wardrobe.  It's never been a place for him to hang out. His birthday is today and I presented him with his very own little teepee tent for his room.  I've been working on it all week. It's made from eco-felt, dowels and twine. I tried my hand at a little hand textile design using an oil based fabric pen  I'll put up a tutorial update to this post soon. For now, here's some more pictures...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Party Animal

This Saturday is my baby's 2nd birthday Party.  For his first we hired a singing cowboy and had a spaghetti western.  This year we'd planned on a party at small farm located in Tilden Park.  He's obsessed with animals.  We've been talking about his birthday a lot over the last few weeks and he's had some things to say about what he wants (including a dinosaur cake and a choo choo train).  I thought it would be kind of fun to morph this into a "Few Of My Favorite Things" theme. I'm trying to keep it simple, and it's staying at the farm, but I'll be incorporating some of his requests into the day.  I made the favor bags today.  They are a nod to his love of animals, but between us, he gets a box of animal crackers every Monday when we do our weekly grocery shopping trip.  I made the bags from mill cloth sacks and block printed them using a simple stamp handmade from some craft foam glued to cardboard. I also printed brown bags for pre-packed lunches for the kids and and to hold the celery and lettuce they'll feed the animals.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

Getting It Together

I was curious.  I saw people posting sets from Polyvore featuring items that are not in their bank of images, which are limited mostly to fashion.  How could this be? After a little poking around on their site, I found a "clip to Polyvore" button for my toolbar. This may be common knowledge, but in the off chance I'm not the only one who hadn't figured this out, here's the link.


Pinterest is great for putting together visual inspiration, and I have a board 60 pins deep with ideas for my new house. I wanted to see some of my textile ideas together in one space to figure out what direction I was going in and I wanted to decide what I really wanted the mood of the space to be. A Polyvore set proved to be a little better for that, plus I could spiff it up with text, like creating my own editorial page. You can actually lay out furniture with rugs and console tables and art. This would have been so helpful when I got married, and decorated my first nursery. Perhaps we have too many tools at our disposal, but I just can't get enough.   

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

Art Smart

Instagram can make an IKEA paper roller look pretty fancy.  I wanted to share the newest space in my soon to be vacated home.  Not being able to move furniture around and DIY a new wall piece is kind of driving me crazy, so I decided I should start packing!  First thing to go into a box were the ubiquitous backwards facing books on my credenza. I've come to realize this only makes sense on a West Elm display case. It freed up some space for something I've been trying to do for a while.  All of our art supplies are kept downstairs out of necessity, but there's a lot of art happening here and homework requires coloring shapes and drawing pictures to write about.  I needed an art space with the basics. I finally gave up on the old easel (it was a good idea in theory) and bought this low profile paper roller, which has a push down top to easily brace and tear clean sheets.  I put the crayons, colored pencils and canister of glue sticks, sharpeners and rounded scissors on a lacquered tray that can easily be moved to the kitchen table. Spiffy and sensible.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Century Mark

It just so happened that last night I noticed I had posted 99 times. I started to wonder what I should do for my 100th post.  I thought it would be nice to do something that captured the spirit of the blog, but I'd only planned to share my recipe for a soba noodle salad (not 100th post material). Today when I was prepping ingredients with Wylie, shooting pictures and then sitting down to share lunch with him I realized that Poppy Haus is about moments like these.  It's about creatively living your everyday life. 

So here's that recipe. Try it, you'll like it.

 I am a chow hound.  By this I mean that I like to eat a LOT.  I know this is only good for me if what I'm eating is very healthy, and by that I mean mostly vegetables. For this recipe I use buckwheat soba noodles (found at most grocery stores)and seasonal crunchy green things. To make it more of an entree add chopped shrimp or shredded chicken. It's also wonderful with a little mango.  The secrets in the sauce.  It's salty, tangy and nutty. Also, because it's "noodles" my kids will eat it.

Soba Noodle Salad
(serves 2-4) 

2 bundles of buckwheat soba noodles
1 cup of chopped snap peas
1/2 bunch of asparagus, bias cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup of broccoli florets, halved

For Sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon of low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar


In a large saucepan bring 6 cups of water to boil.  
Add noodles and reduce heat to simmer for 4 minutes.
Remove from heat, strain, and put noodles into a large bowl half filled with ice water to flash cool for 2 minutes.  
Strain noodles, discard ice water and return the noodles to the bowl.

Fill a wide shallow sauce pan with 3 inches of water.  
Bring to a boil and reduce heat just below the boiling point.  
Add broccoli, blanch for 1 minute, remove, allowing to cool on a plate. 
Add asparagus to the pan, blanch for 1 minute and remove to the cooling plate. 

Prepare sauce by whisking ingredients together.

Pour sauce over the noodles and toss until coated.  Add the snap peas, broccoli and asparagus (once cooled), toss until coated.  Season with sea salt if desired.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spinning Circles

This is the stool that used to sit under the telephone in my grandparents kitchen.  I just loved to spin around on it, drinking soda, watching golf on their little TV. The stool sat on one side of a newspaper overloaded wooden desk, on the other side, next to the doorway, were the penciled in measurements of every grandchild, some from toddler to adulthood. After they were both gone, and the home that they'd created was necessarily changed, I became irrationally attached to this stool.  It now had a cracked vinyl top and rust on the legs.  My parents brought it to me along with the dining room table and chairs. I suddenly had all of these relics of my childhood sitting in my tiny house. I put the stool in the garage because I had nowhere keep it inside.  We'll be moving in a few months to a house that has a big kitchen, with a built in desk where the phone will go. The space is just screaming for a spinny stool. I got it out of the garage today, cleaned up the rust and recovered the cracked vinyl with a print oilcloth. Here's the before and after. 


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cheap Thrills

From top left: colored pencils with sharpener lid, 3 minute timer, flat folding straw hat, French pencil case, Japanese eraser and capped wood pencils, neutral folding reusable bag (recycled).  Pictured below: toy trumpet, library bookends, clear plastic umbrella.

I am not really a dollar store kind of person.  I am however, a Japanese dollar store kind of person.  Here in the Bay Area we have a local chain called Ichiban Kan.  It was recommended to me a few years ago by a couple of girls in the know, so I gave it a shot.  Over time I've picked up some great things like brightly colored plastic elephant watering cans for the bathtub, fun notebooks, art supplies and adorable chopsticks. I took Wylie on little adventure today which included a trip to Ichiban Kan in El Cerrito.  He got a toy trumpet. I got a clear plastic umbrella and some teal library style bookends as well as all the fabulous loot above for under $25.  My favorite find was the hour glass for a stylish "time out".


Monday, April 16, 2012

Summer Stripes

summer stripes

My preppy heart beats for nautical stripes, especially in navy or dark gray. My favorite striped piece is this retro dress from Madewell. I'd slip this on with a pair of flat sandals and my little cross body leather bag and be the hit of the kindergarten drop off. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Flower Bomb

Acres of ranunculus.  So pretty I kind of can't take it. If you ever find yourself driving through Carlsbad, California between March and May you must stop and visit The Flower FieldsThe farm cuts up a hill, in stripes of color for what feels like miles. Just as amazing as the tulip fields in Holland, looking down from the hilltop you see a rainbow in flowers fading into the Pacific. It was on the verge of rain all morning, so we had beautiful light and got great pictures. They also have the most enchanting European playground.  Nearby are U-pick strawberry fields (also in season) and plenty of flower stands to bring the beauty home.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pretty Technical

I just spent far too long putting together my first Etsy treasury. Etsy is a non-curated creative marketplace, and to put it bluntly, there's a lot of crafty crap to dig through to find the great housewares and art I assume will pop right up.  I usually jump to the member curated "treasuries" if I'm looking for something specific.  The best treasuries tell a story and convey a specific mood. My first treasury features things I might take along with me for a day out in Golden Gate Park including this lovely iPad case by Stash

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Large Art

I've been kicking around the idea of enlarging one of our special family pictures to create an original piece of large art, approximately 50x50, either canvas mounted or framed. I don't really want it to be a posed picture of us wearing matching shirts. I've been thinking something more abstract, but very personal; a timeless image that would always remind me of the kids and this time in our life...Today I got one. You are looking at a picture of San Francisco, made out of Legos. I think it will always remind me of them, and of home. Here's some more...
San Francisco, Legoland, California

Monday, April 9, 2012

Plastic Fantastic

I'll be spending the next few days in the 6 year old boy paradise otherwise known as Legoland.  Let's be clear, I'm totally on board.  It's not Disneyland and they have a lazy river. Legos are great because they encourage creativity in design, but if you've ever tried to assist in the construction of a Lego kit meant for anyone over the age of 4 then you know how extremely complicated Lego construction can be.  I liken it to putting together an IKEA dresser. Scandinavians must be much smarter than the rest of us.  For a good laugh, read Michael Chabon's book "Manhood For Amateurs".  He has a chapter dedicated to kits and minifigs. I bring up Lego construction, because right now Dwell has a Lego Modern Home Design competition going on. Through April 15th, you get to vote on your favorite.  Knowing what I do about Legos, I find these absolutely amazing (and the descriptions are too).

Water's Edge Live/Work 21st Century, Case Study House-inspired dwelling. Two stories. Filled with Southern California sunlight from every aspect throughout the day. Open deck for sun worshipping. Double-height entrance hall with clear glass cactus atrium. Half-moon infinity water feature on sun deck provides 24/7 wave sounds.

Suburban House "My entry is a representative Mid-Century Modern suburban house with flagstone walls, large windows, fireplace, car port and a mix of flat and angled roofs. In some ways it feels descended from the style of Frank Lloyd Wright. The bulk of the model is made from numerous tan, dark tan and light gray 1x2 plates."

Villa Hillcrest "Perched on a Southern California hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Villa Hillcrest is inspired by the work of Richard Neutra and Joseph Eichler during the mid-century modern architecture movement unique to California, and its climate and lush landscapes. The design for Villa Hillcrest expresses key mid-century modernist modes of living, including the celebration of nature and sunlight with large window…"

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Plastic Eggs and Paper Grass

I am not really an Easter person, it's usually an after thought.  I'm trying a little harder this year, because I think it's becoming a bigger deal for the kids. We've decided to team up with another family to do a DIY egg hunt at a wooded park up in the Oakland Hills.  The fellas are going early to hide the plastic eggs and the ladies will follow behind with our brunch, the grandparents and the kids.  Our plan is to post up at a picnic table and sink our teeth into hot out of the oven cinnamon rolls, pork sausage and asparagus frittata, washed down with mimosas and coffee. In the early morning we'll give the boys their Easter Baskets. I kind of skip the candy, because Jasper can't have chocolate, plus they'll be getting enough jelly beans and marshmallows in their eggs later on. This year they are each getting a special book, a coveted movie, and little things like sidewalk chalk and play dough.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Getting Folksy

I somehow talked my friend Coco into letting me do a little kitchen makeover at her house.  She has one of those 1950's spaces that was semi-updated at some point between then and her with no specific design style in mind.  It's kind of a functional blank slate. She has some Latin folkloric influences in the rest of her home, but the kitchen has pale pink and white linoleum flooring, which will have to stay for the project, so when I saw this poster on Etsy I thought it was a great starting point. Check out the ever growing board I've made for the redo on Pinterest and stay tuned for the results in the next couple of months.  To purchase the poster (also in midnight blue for my new house) visit One Little Bird Studio on Etsy.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Springtime at The Parker

Just some pictures I took. I want to live here. I am not kidding.

Easter Eats

I'll be hosting an Easter brunch this Sunday and I plan to make a small spread featuring homemade cinnamon rolls, plenty of cured pork products and a riff on Eggs Benedict that features my asparagus hash recipe. This simple, but stand out recipe has a complex flavor and is satisfyingly salty. I usually serve it for breakfast, but it would be totally delicious with fresh pasta or incorporated into a lemony risotto. 

Asparagus Hash

1 bunch of asparagus
2 oz of diced pancetta
1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
Course sea salt and ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Rinse the asparagus, cut off the woody bottom of the stalk (about 1 1/2 inches)then chop into 1/4" slices up the stalk, leaving the tips intact.  

Combine the asparagus, pancetta, EVO, and salt and pepper in a mixing bowl, incorporating the ingredients.

Spread the mixture on a sheet pan and roast for 20-25 minutes, until the pancetta is crispy and the tips of the asparagus start to brown, turning the ingredients half way to ensure even roasting. 

Helpful tip:

This is delicious with a poached egg.  Here's how I do it:

How To Poach An Egg (you can do this)

Fill a saucepan with 2 inches of water

Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to the water

Bring to a low boil and reduce heat so that the water is extremely hot, but not quite simmering.

Once the water is steady, gently crack an egg into the water.  Allow to cook and set to desired yolk consistency.  I prefer runny yolks, so I only poach for about 3-4 minutes (until the white is completely set), but 5 minutes will yield a gelled to firm yolk.

Remove the egg from water using a slatted spoon, allow the water to completely run off the egg and place it where you want to eat it, or retain a little bit of the hot water using a non-slatted spoon and place it in a bowl if you are waiting to plate.


Monday, April 2, 2012

A Pretty Picture

Checking in at The Parker

I took a LOT of pictures on the girls trip this weekend. A big fan of vintage filtered iPhone photography, I had only recently made the switch from exclusively using Hipstamatic to using Instagram.  I got a quick tutorial from a friend who knows how to use it and off I was editing pictures in the field.  I think what makes an app like Instagram so appealing that it gives a novice photographer, a mom at the playground type, the ability to make an ordinary snapshot special.  Using the fading filter can help focus the attention on a specific detail. One thing to know about me is that I do NOT own a nice camera.  I plan on getting one soon, because it's becoming a necessity for my blog. As a result, I have spend some time perfecting my iPhone snapshots.

While in Palm Springs I was keen to take pictures for future stories. I also documented our trip and got some much needed photos of all of our friends, including some glamor shots for everyone to update their Facebook profile. They were really interested in learning how to use Instagram to doctor up their pics, so I thought I'd share my tutorial with you today.

A Girl's Guide to Using Instagram with an iPhone:

There are two ways to use Instagram to edit pictures. 
You can edit a picture you've taken with your phone by opening Instagram and clicking on the camera icon, then click the stacked squares on the left hand side to access your camera roll. Click on the picture you'd like to edit and then move and scale it for editing.  You can also use Instagram to take a picture.  It's pretty straight forward, click the camera icon and point and shoot.  There's a flash and a lens reverse feature on the top bar.  Once you take your shot choose from 18 filters to change the mood of the original.  My favorite thing to do is to use the fade filter located at on the top bar with a teardrop icon. Use the circular fad to focus on a face to blur the background or the bar fade to focus on relevant landscape detail. Once you've decided on a look, tap the green check and share the image if you like or simply tap "done" and the image will save to your camera roll. For reference, check out the color filters and fade of a picture I took of the Saguaro Hotel below. The original is crisp but flat with some unwanted window reflection.  The second is more rich and focuses your attention on the deep rainbow color of the hotel walls. The same is true with the picture of my hilarious friend Annie. When you remove the extraneous detail you reveal the desired focus of the picture. 


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