Saturday, June 30, 2012

Just Do It

I pulled the trigger. I just ordered the curtains that have been at the top of my textile covet list for the last however many years. After much hemming and hawing they will be mine in about 5-7 business days. So what if I don't have a couch?

 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Townie


I am very excited to start riding a bike again... I've had a few over my lifetime. I took the training wheels off my yellow banana seat nearly thirty years ago.  My next ride was a folding road bike for cruising the mean streets of England, then a big girl ten speed, the requisite 90's mountain bike for my native foothills, and of course "Hula Girl", my beloved beach cruiser while at school in Davis. Since then bikes have solely become vacation transportation for me. Having lived in the Oakland Hills for so long I haven't owned my own, opting to hoof it instead.  I found this Windsor Town Bike via Say Yes To Hoboken and immediately fell in love with the way it looked (the price is right too). I just need a stylish rucksack and helmet to complete the look.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Reading


Our new house has this built-in bookcase that houses all of our children's books, dog-eared paperbacks, board games, and puzzles. It's located in our family room with wainscotted walls and plush carpet looking out onto the greenery of the backyard. In this space you feel as though you are on vacation somewhere meant for napping and losing yourself in a good book.  

Today when we were in town running errands we found a nifty little toy shop with a mechanical toy horse out front (love you Petaluma). After a 25 cent ride, we popped our heads in and I picked up this book review pad for kids.  My hope is that this new space will encourage spontaneous reading and keep the new found kindergarten skills fresh through the dog days of summer.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Away We Go...


When we moved to our Montclair house 4 years ago Jasper was 2 years old, and to help him understand where his new place would be we nicknamed it "The Bunny House", because of the tacky, now sentimental cement rabbit adornment on the front steps.  We kept it in it's place for him and at some point it mysteriously gained a little bunny friend.  If you've read this blog before, you know that lawn art is not really my taste, but when making the move from Oakland to Petaluma this past weekend, I put a little something in the backyard outside the guest cottage to remind us of home.

 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Farmers Market Week: Lemony Orzo Salad with Spring Pea and Mint


Today was Jasper's birthday and we celebrated with a BBQ by the pool.  I made an orzo salad with fresh peas and mint from the farmers market, dressed in a garlic-lemon vinaigrette...

Lemony Orzo Salad

12 oz dried orzo
1 cup fresh peas (about 1/2 lb)
2 cups water
3 sprigs mint
4 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lemons, juiced
1 teaspoon cracked sea salt
1 tsp lemon zest
6 oz crumbled feta




Prepare the orzo according to package, rinse and strain with cool water. Put orzo in a large mixing bowl.  While it cools completely, shuck the peas.  In a medium sauce pan, bring the water to a boil, add peas and lower heat to a simmer for 3 minutes.  Strain and rinse with cool water, add to the orzo.  Prepare the vinaigrette by combining the olive oil, garlic,lemon juice and sea salt.  Whisk until emulsified. Pour over orzo and peas, add mint, zest, feta and toss until combined. 


 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Farmers Market Week: Hail Cesar!


One of my favorite restaurants in the Bay Area is located right next door to one of it's most famous, Chez Panisse, maybe you've heard of it? With it's common table, Spanish small plates, and extensive wine list, Cesar is more my speed.  My favorite dish is their padron peppers.  About one out of ten is very spicy, the others are mild a full flavored.  A healthy dose of olive oil and cracked sea salt make them irresistible. I get them every time they are available at our Farmer's Market. Tonight we made them on the grill, which was a first and it worked beautifully.  Here's the recipe...

Padron Peppers

1 lb of padron peppers
3 tbsp olive oil 
Sea Salt


Heat olive oil in a cast iron or all clad skillet over medium high heat.  Add peppers, saute for 10 minutes until the skins are browned and shriveled.  Crack sea salt to taste and serve immediately.  

Best. Recipe. Ever.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Farmers Market Week: Potato-Corn Chowder


I found some beautiful white corn at our Farmer's Market over the weekend. I plan on using it for an unbelievably delicious chowder that my friend Heather made the last time I was at her house.  She gave me a copy of the recipe which is from Fields of Greens vegetarian cookbook. The sweetness of the chowder comes from the corn stock that you'll make ahead of time. The recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of butter which I'm omitting because of Jasper's dairy allergy, rendering my version vegan.  I'm excited to serve this tonight as it'll just be me and the boys and corn and potatoes are their favorites.   


Potato-Corn Chowder
from Fields of Greens


7 cups corn stock (see recipe below)
5 ears of corn, shaved, about 5 cups
1 lb of new or white rose potatoes cut into cubes
Salt and white pepper
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp unsalted butter (I'm subbing with extra olive oil) 
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 celery rib, diced
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

Make the stock and keep it warm over low heat
Set aside 2 cups of shaved corn, then place the rest in a soup pot with half the potatoes and 2 cups of stock, 1/2 tsp of salt, and a few pinches of white pepper.  Bring the potatoes and corn to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the potatoes begin to break apart, 20-30 minutes. Puree the corn and potatoes with 1-2 cups stock in a blender or food processor, then pass the puree through a food mill.  Return the puree to the soup pot, add 3 cups of stock and the bay leaves, and cook over low heat.  

Heat the butter and olive oil in a sauce pan, add the onions, dried herbs, 1/2 tsp salt, and a pinch of white pepper.  Saute over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until the onions are soft.  Add the garlic, celery, reserved dice potatoes, and reserved corn.  Saute until the vegetables are tender, another 7-8 minutes, then add the wine and cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until the pan is almost dry.

Stir the sauteed vegetables into the corn and potato puree and add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook the soup over low heat for 20 minutes.  Stir in the basil just before serving.

Makes 8-9 cups


Corn Stock

Shaved corn cobs, broken into halves or thirds
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 medium-size potato, sliced
1 celery rib, sliced
5 parsley sprigs, coarsely chopped
5 garlic cloves, in their skin, crushed with the side of a knife blade
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp peppercorns
9 cups cold water

Combine all of the ingredients in a stockpot.  Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour.  Pour the stock through a strainer, press as much liquid as you can from the vegetables, and discard them.

Makes about 7 cups 




Sunday, June 17, 2012

Muppet of a Man



We threw our final bash in Oakland this weekend with a Muppet Movie Night to celebrate Jasper's 6th birthday and to say our farewells to our friends and neighbors.  I invited his entire  Kindergarten class and his teacher so it was a full, albeit empty house.  The kids enjoyed Oakland's finest, Lanesplitter pizza, cherries, frozen grapes, and lemonade out on the deck, followed by a chocolate Muppet cake and red velvet woopie pies. I set up some play space for the younger guests including a Swedish Chef kitchen. We managed to get about half of them to sit down and watch "THE MUPPETS" projected onto our living room wall, the other half, including the the birthday boy spent the remainder of the party playing out back in our hilly yard of trees and rocks.  I had to apply several band aids and Jasper got a half dozen mosquito bites, but everyone had a great time.  The favors were little sacks of red licorice sealed with Kid Made Modern multicolored tape; on the back of the sacks I stuck an address label for our new house in Petaluma and encouraged the kids to send him a letter this summer. 

We leave town on Friday! This morning we took our final trip to our Farmer's Market and picked up a bounty of early summer produce.  Since my glue gun is packed, this week I will write up my favorite recipes featuring summer squash, corn, fresh peas and padrone peppers.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Source


I finally stopped by Urban Home, a warehouse style mid century modern focused consignment store in Berkeley.  We had a leather chair left over from garage sale that was too valuable to donate, but couldn't stick around for a craiglist sale. This is the place to go for vintage lamps, dining tables and accent chairs by Knoll, Eames and Noguchi, all in very good condition. They also had an art room with paintings and wall sculpture by C. Jere which I will be visiting after we make our move next week.  Bay Area readers, this is a must visit.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pen to Paper





8 years ago today I tied the knot with my main man Adam. He was the perfect combination of football player and poet, and as my roommate's older brother he was totally off limits which made him irresistible. We started writing each other letters when he lived in San Francisco and I was still at school in Davis.  When I was cleaning out our garage for our upcoming move to Petaluma, I found a box of correspondence, replete with Bob Dylan lyrics.  I'm glad I met him when I was young enough to need to make him a mix tape to really tell him how I felt.  I'm glad I was old enough to have suffered through my first broken heart. I'm glad his sister is now my sister.

Every year in June our anniversary takes a back seat to graduation (he's a high school administrator) and our son's birthday.  We usually have to celebrate later in the month. This year is no exception.  Falling on a Tuesday, our house full of boxes and a distinct lack of babysitting prospects we're trying to steal away a few hours this evening to see the new Wes Anderson film "Moonrise Kingdom" about young love and letter writing.  We got married just as weddings were starting to take on themes, and I wanted ours to feel like the inside of a Wes Anderson movie.  We played a lot of Mark Mothersbaugh during the cocktail hour and I had my brother- in-law illustrate the assets of our invitations with hand drawn maps and pictures of the venues.  We were cheeky with our vows.  Adam asked me to promise to give him wild haired children.  We flew to Paris for our honeymoon.  It feels like a movie when I think back on it

Now we're on to our next adventure, two wild haired kids in tow...
  

Monday, June 11, 2012

Rotate Your Art



I was at West Elm a few weeks ago shopping for our new home when I saw a display in their housewares section that I thought might work for our ever expanding primary art collection.  The idea was simple, plywood, bulldog clips and rope. I'd seen an iteration of this in Martha Stewart Living a few years ago that involve framing wood to create a wall gallery using bulldog clips, but that would be too permanent a solution for our rental.

west elm display





I gathered the materials and made a 4x4 version which we'll put in the kids playroom over their art space when we move.  I varied the heights on the clips to accommodate taller pieces and used several strands of bakers twine braided friendship bracelet style with a loop at the top to create a colorful pop on the unpainted wood; this helped to keep the board more flush with the wall when hung than rope. The board would also look great painted, chalkboard a paint could be an option, as you could write above the piece and the black would pop against the wall. Here's how I did it:

1 4x4 cut of plywood
9 Bully Clips (sourced from Blick)
9 short nuts and bolts
Bakers twine or thin cord






Measure out the placement on your board.  I left a 1" space at the top of the board to accommodate the clip and marked 17" from the top edge (creating 16" of space for art), 12" inches in from the side for my first mark, 12" apart for each clip.  The second row another 16" down and the third row at 12" from the bottom. I drilled the holes and attached the bulldog clips.  Measuring 1" in from each corner I drilled 4 more holes to attach the twine. I then cut 12X 9' strands of twine, stringing 6 strands on each side, braiding the ends and tying into a loop knot at the top of the board for hanging.













Friday, June 8, 2012

Making It Home

Courtesy of Apartment Therapy

My favorite family homes embrace the silliness of childhood, give everyone a space to play and celebrate the small things. I love the idea of drawing on the walls. Wouldn't it be fun to hopscotch your way into a house or gaze at tongue-in-cheek illustrations of viewfinders and gumball machines while eating your Sunday pancakes?  

 
Hopsotch Rug, CB2





Kevin Tong Illustration


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

He's Crafty!


Father's Day is coming up and it has me thinking.  In this DIY-craftster blogging bubble I write in, I don't run across too many dudes.  When I look at pictures from Altitude Design Summit I see a lot of bangs and loose knot buns.  That's why Joel Henriques is so especially cool.  He's a dad, designer and blogger. He put out his book "Made To Play" last September, which features his original paper projects and DIY toys and his work making paper cities is just amazing. 

I stumbled upon his Father's Day recommendations on Etsy's blog today and I thought I'd share some of them with you. Click here for the full article...

 







Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Axe


It's Spirit Week at school and today is "career day" meant for adorable little children to dress up like doctors and fire fighters.  Jasper decided that he wanted to be a rock star. This is probably a red flag. 

Last night around 9 o'clock I remembered that I needed to make him a guitar.  You are looking at "The Silver Legacy".  He and I made one of these together a long time ago when it was a featured project in Real Simple Family.  I'll recap my current version:


Gather your stuff...

You will need:

1 small shoe box
4 large, wide rubberbands
1 cardboard tube (from gift wrap)
Aluminum foil
Washi tape (Kid Made Modern from Target in the pic)
Circle stickers 
Clear packing tape 
A marker
An X-ACTO knife or some scissors 


  1. I started by covering the entire shoebox in foil.  I sealed the lid with packing tape.
  2. Trace around the cardboard tube on one end of the box, below the lid.  Make two intersecting cuts across the circle, like a plus sign.
  3. On the box top, trace a large circle and cut out. 
  4. Insert the cardboard tube into the incision.  My tube got a little squished going through the hole, and I trimmed it with scissors through the opening on the box top.
  5. Cover the entire box with clear tape to protect it.
  6. Carefully stretch the rubberbands around the box 
  7. Secure the strings on either end with some washi tape, cover with packing tape.
  8. Decorate the tube with marker, stickers and more tape.  I also covered with clear tape to secure the stickers.

Now it's time to rock.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Adventures in Moving


Sorry for such inconsistent posting last week.  I'm knee deep in boxes and our moving sale was a real time sucker, but by all accounts a big success.  I learned a thing or two about organizing a multi-family sale, including keeping the numbers straight. Here are my top 5 tips...

1. Location, Location, Location.  I was the one who initiated the idea of the sale, and presumably had the most to sell, but I live on a hilly switch back road off the beaten path.  My sister-in-law has a sprawling front lawn on a main thoroughfare. Just like any sales operation, foot traffic boosts sales. We were very busy throughout the day.

2. Advertise and promote. In addition to posting signs on the house and around town, I created a Craigslist ad which listed a lot of the items we'd be selling.  I used images of nicer pieces as a teaser and created a photobucket album for the furniture and higher value pieces.  I also cross promoted by creating individual ads for furniture pieces, listing the link to the moving sale in the ad.  I used facebook to reach out to my friends (with the ad) and encouraged people to share the information.  Oh, and since I have one, I posted on my blog.  I was able to pre-sell several things before the day of the sale.

3. Organize the group.  Weeks before the sale, I asked the participating families to make a list of their items and to take pictures of furniture/ antiques. I assigned each family a color to tag their items with.  Having everything tagged in advance made set up and sales a lot easier. The day of the sale, I used a book with color-coded columns to jot down each sale. At the end of the day we were only $13 off (we had more money than reported sales), which was pretty amazing.


4. Rent a truck.  We opted to rent a small moving truck for transport and storage of our items the day before the sale. This made set up a breeze in the pre-dawn, caffeine deprived morning, Early Birds breathing down our necks.  We were able to deliver large pieces locally, which aided in sales, and at the end of the day we packed up all the unsold items and took them to Goodwill.  Split across 5 families, it was well worth the small cost.  U-haul has great deals.


5. Have a central bank. Per suggestion, I wore a bag all day that contained our change, held the book, and our bank.  All money flowed through me, and therefore all sales were reported to me.  If I had a particularly large, co-mingled order I had one person run the calculator and another record the sales by color, while I went through each piece.  Our customers were so into it they started to help calling out "$5 on blue", "$2 on yellow".  


For our bank I took out $270


$10 in quarters
$50 in ones
$100 in fives
$50 in tens
$60 in twenties (to break an early $100 bill)


With all that, there are so many other things to consider, like how to organize display, how to price things (to sell) and how many pizzas to order for lunch.  I was able to snag a couple of painting of Paris and book about birds and a kettle smoker before they hit the sales floor and I made a dent in my moving costs, so I'd say the day was a real winner. Now excuse me while I fall asleep in my coffee.

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