Friday, August 31, 2012

DIY FRIDAYS: Heather's Feathers

My first book was called "Heather's Feathers".  It was about an overachieving bird in a first grade class full of animals named things like Patty Pig and Robbie Rabbit.  The animals were all losing their teeth and getting presents from the Tooth Fairy, but Heather, who had no teeth, was not.  She was pretty upset due to her competitive nature, and complained to her father about it.  He told her she had her own tricks, and just like that Heather started molting, and put all of her feathers under her pillow for the Feather Fairy, who really hooked her up with feather crafts for all of her friends, which as it turns out, is way cooler than 50 cents.

This pretty much explains me in a nutshell.

I digress.

I've been in a feather mood lately.  This week's DIY is a riff on the masking tape feather I created for the Design*Sponge challenge.  I like the idea of using feathers in small vases to take the place of fresh flowers.  I chose my colors based on this beautiful painting of Paris.  The small white vases are a favorite found at IKEA. Happy Weekend!  Tutorial below.

Masking Tape Feathers

Gather your materials:

2" masking tape
Fabric covered floral wire
Acrylic paint
Scissors + paint brushes

Paint the wire your desired color, I chose ivory.  Once dry cut a strip of masking tape about 8-10" in length.  Place the wire in the center, leaving about 1" free at the top.

Place another piece of tape over the top and cut into a feather shape. Paint your feather, I used two tones, gold on the bottom and color on top.  Allow to dry and cut thin triangles into the tape to form a feather pattern.  Voila.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Go West

There are some great neutral pieces now on sale at West Elm. I like to use neutrals with a bit of an organic, apothecary feel to fill out a room without adding too much of a statement. I spotted this pillow cover in the current edition of Martha Stewart Living and scooped up a couple today.

West Elm Sale
1.Knotted Felt Pillow Cover $29.99, 2. Sillhouette Table $99.99, 3. Home Botanical Vase $9.99, 4. Kids Scoop Back Chair $29.99, 5. Tall Driftwood Tablelamp $134.99

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Toy Story

Our now vacated bedroom was given a makeover last weekend and the boys have something they've never had before, a playroom.  Our house is configured with a wing off of the kitchen.  It has a Jack and Jill bedroom/bathroom, and we decided to bunk the kids together and use the other space to house their toys.  This decision was made in part to keep their room a quiet place meant for sleeping and in Jasper's case, for homework. We also thought it would be constructive for them to share both spaces equally, including their toys. I imagine this will lead to inevitable conflict in the coming months, but for now at least, their wing is the happiest place on earth.  Here are a few tips for creating a fun playroom...

1. Give it a home.  I'm not into labeling bins, but I do think that everything should have a place.  Think about how they play.  I am keeping the "guys" and "animals" in low drawers for Wylie, while Jasper's Star Wars action figures and legos are stored in the cabinet where only he can reach.

2. Leave room to spread out.  Most of this playroom is covered with flat surface, either carpet, table, or chair.  They have space to lay on their bellies and build train tracks, build space pods and quiet comfy places to read.  No matter how small the room, they need surface.

3. Think like a preschool.  I purposefully created areas within the room for different types of activities. One side is make believe, with a toy kitchen, dress up bin and the tee pee. The other side has a focus on projects, like legos, trains and drawing.  The chaise is the quiet place for reading books at night, and a good resting place for an adult referee.

4. Use what you have.  Kids don't care what their space looks like.  I scavenged from around the house for furniture, curtains, shelving. This room is a hodgepodge of leftovers from other spaces. 

5. Set some ground rules.  In our case...


Friday, August 24, 2012

DIY FRIDAY: Back To School Edition

DIY Sandwich Bag

This week's DIY Friday is a reusable sandwich bag.  I love to use these, because you can throw them in the wash when peanut butter and jelly escape the bread and it cuts down on plastic baggy waste. I'm a novice seamstress so this is a very beginner project, easy for anyone that has access to a sewing machine. Have a great weekend!

Tutorial after the jump...

DIY Sandwich Bag

Gather your materials:

9x12 cut of decorator weight fabric, twill or denim
1" bias tape
Coordinating thread
2 1/2" strip of velcro

This is the easy way to use bias tape, not necessarily the "correct" way. Insert fabric inside the fold, pinning every few inches. At the corners fold tape into a triangle and down into an angle on either side of the fabric. Sew across the width of one side. This will be the top of the interior pocket.

When sewn down, the pocket will be created by folding the fabric at 8", the top flap will be 4". Before sewing it down attach the interior velcro strip.

Place the velcro strip 2" down from the edge of the bias tape.  Pin and sew around the perimeter to attach. 

Sew the top velcro strip to the interior of what will be the top flap at about 1/2" down from the bias tape edge.  Test the placement by pinning it first and matching it to the pocket velcro.  Sew the bias tap on to the exterior of the fabric with the pocket pinned in place.  All set to sandwich! 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hand Pies

Sometimes you just need a little something sweet in the middle of the day.  Jasper starts school tomorrow and I spent some time today making hand pies for his lunches. With only a tablespoon of filling it's not quite a dessert, in fact I think they'd also make a great breakfast treat as well. Because Jasper has a dairy allergy, I substitute rice milk to seal the edges and brush the dough, but my recipe tutorial will list the real stuff.

Apple Hand Pies
Yields 12

Prepare pastry dough for a double crust. I use an all shortening version.

1 cup vegetable shortening, very cold.
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

Using a pastry blender or two butter knives to cut the shortening into 1 inch pieces.  Combine the dry ingredients and add them to the shortening.  Continue cutting the mixture until pea size, and dry.  


1/3 cup ice water

Cut until the dough begins to form, it should not be sticky. If too dry add more ice water, 1 tbsp at a time.  

Once combined, form two balls, press them into disks, wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 

While the dough is chilling, Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchement or a silicone baking mat.

Make the apple filling.

You'll need:

5 apples (Gravenstein, Pippin, Golden Delicious), peeled and diced
4 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon 

Combine ingredients and cook over medium heat until very tender.  The juices will combine with the sugar and caramelize the apple.
Set aside and allow to cool.

Flour your work surface and roll out one of the dough disks to large rectangle about 1/4 thick. Cut into 6 inch squares.  Dollop a tbsp of filling into the center of the square.

Brush the outside edges of the square with milk and fold into a triangle.  Using a fork, crimp the edge of the dough. Transfer to the baking sheet and baste the top of the pies with a little more milk and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Repeat.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Outstanding In Field

From Top Left: Baby charentais melons(a French cantaloupe variety), The family eating at the cedar table handmade by Nicole's husband Phil, Lucie enjoying tomato cobbler, The Martin's lush backyard vegetable garden.

My friend Nicole Martin and her family eat farm to table nearly everyday from the comfort of their own home.  Relocating from Carmel to Sacramento has allowed them to establish a robust backyard garden that yields more than 40lbs of cherry tomatoes each season. One of their favorite dishes to make during the summer months is Martha Stewart's Tomato Cobbler (see recipe below). What impresses me most about their garden is that Lucie and Phoebe are growing up with an understanding of where their food comes from; being able to eat fruit off the vine while playing outside. I imagine they'll want to continue this practice when they grow up. Having recently moved inland myself, I'm hoping to get some tips from Nicole when we put in our raised beds this fall.

Phoebe showing off the star of this season, the baby charentais melon.

Tomato Cobbler
Martha Stewart Living
July 2011
  • For the filling
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 pounds cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • For the biscuit topping
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese (2 1/4 ounces), plus 1 tablespoon, for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, plus more for brushing


  1. Make the filling: Heat oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium heat. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 25 minutes. Add garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Toss onion mixture, tomatoes, flour, and red-pepper flakes with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and some pepper.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make the biscuit topping: Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or rub in with your fingers until small clumps form. Stir in cheese, then add cream, stirring with a fork to combine until dough forms. (Dough will be slightly sticky.)
  4. Transfer tomato mixture to a 2-quart baking dish (2 inches deep). Spoon 7 clumps of biscuit dough (about 1/2 cup each) over top in a circle, leaving center open. Brush dough with cream, and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon cheese. Bake until tomatoes are bubbling in the center and biscuits are golden brown, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Let cool for 20 minutes.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Wallflowers

removing wallpaper

Removing wallpaper is totally fun!  No, actually it's not; it's tedious, dusty and gives you a crazy shoulder workout.  I listened to about 100 back episodes of Radiolab and This American Life on Sunday and got about 1/4 of the bathroom stripped. Should you ever need to do this yourself, here's an overview:

1. Cover your hair, consider wearing a work mask.  It's messy.

2. Score the paper using a rolling wallpaper remover, taking care not to press the spikes into the wall.

3. Mix a solution of fabric softner and water and spray the wall generously.

4. Let the solution sink in and use a wide scraper to slough the sheets off. 

5. Go back through with a scrub sponge to remove residual paper backing and residue.

In some cases the wallpaper is really stuck on there (this happened to us a lot at the seams). Re-wet and let it sit, it should come off with a little brut force. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

DIY Fridays

Summer ends next week, in a way, and for the first time in 2 1/2 years I will be kid free, three days a week.  I will miss their little butts, but I am so ready to have the time to create projects, work on recipes and do more research on design, housewares and goings on.  I'm instituting a DIY Friday post which be an easy to accomplish weekend project.  This week I'm featuring a revision of a sunburst I made last year.  My first version was broken in the move.  This one is a little more glamorous and better executed. I omitted the mirror, but it could easily be glued to the underside of the ring. For the tutorial, click below.

Monday, August 13, 2012

All Is Love

where the wild thing are

So Monday was not so great. Jasper managed to spill an entire bottle of enamel paint (red) all over himself and our outdoor furniture.  I lost my mind.  After I scrubbed him with olive oil and sea salt to get it off, he took a bath and was sent to his room to pick up his toys...which he refused to do for over three hours.  When he started to get hungry he acquiesced.  Somehow the ship righted itself when what started with a little dance party turned into an actual wild rumpus, complete with old Halloween costumes, music from the movie, signage, and a tee pee lighting in preparation for dad to get home to read the book.

I'm looking forward to having the time to complete the dozens of projects I've had on the back burner once school starts for everyone, and we've certainly have had some long days, but I'll miss our endless summer.

The Complete Collection

I'm on the hunt for some original portrait style paintings and illustrations to fill out an art/picture wall in my family room.  I scoured Etsy, which can be kind of a rats nest, and finally found these two shops by Israeli artist, Tali.  Her collection at TUSH TUSH features her original paintings and pastels available on tiny canvases or larger art prints, while TOSYA is her collection of cheeky illustrations. Bingo.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sweet Tart

This weekend, in between trips to the paint store and performing balancing acts on high ladders getting started on our new room, I will be heading out to Sebastopol's Gravenstein Apple Fair. If you've never had a Gravenstein, it's sweet and tart, and yields amazing applesauce and pies.  The festival celebrates all things Gravenstein, and features local wines from the likes of Matanzas Creek, and beer from Lagunitas and Bear Republic.  In addition to the food and drink there will be a musical lineup, chefs tables and educational workshops.

August 11th, 10am-6pm
August 12th, 10am-5pm

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wow Wow Howcapow

My celebration of all things English runs deep. I spent several formative years in a school uniform, sipping tea with milk, trying my hand at the BBC version of an accent, being an exotic American. In the last few years GB has been basking in the limelight with the marriage of Will and Kate and now with the Olympics. While the Keep Calm and Carry On posters are a little tiresome, this collection of housewares called Howcapow is just plain cool.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

More is More

master suite

When we moved into our new home, we were overwhelmed by the amount of space we gained.  Well, we are gaining even more.  The master suite had been converted into a studio apartment at some point in the last few years and up until last week a very nice guy named Bradley had been making it his home.  As sweet as we are, I'm sure the 6:30am bike riding sessions outside his front door helped him to take the plunge and move in with his girlfriend.  The space hasn't been updated in several years, so over the next few weeks the kitchen will be dismantled, and the carpet pulled up and replaced. I will be stripping wallpaper for the first time, and taping (good grief) and painting around a lot of windows. It'll be worth it, for the extra bathroom alone. I can't decide if I'm more excited for the additional closet space and garden view or that the kids will have their own wing of the house to trash behind closed doors. Here's the before pictures...   

Monday, August 6, 2012

She Smiled Sweetly

Kathy Hosley
image by V.Sanderson of Chickens In The Trees
When I was a very young woman I met someone who left an indelible mark on my life. She was a teacher, an artist, a mother, and for a time, my confidant. I think of her when I'm doing the things that I enjoy most in my life, like creating something with my hands, working in my garden, speaking frankly to my children, listening to really good music. She was complicated, wise, and open to the world. I lost touch with her sometime during college, and when I learned that she passed away earlier this year, my heart sank. I guess I always thought I'd meet her again, someday, and I wish that I would have thanked her for putting me on my path. I'm thinking of her especially today, on her birthday.

Thank you Kathy...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Say Hey Kid

As I write this, the San Francisco Giants are in first place, and scored 16 runs against the Rockies in last night's game.  It seems like the perfect time to do a little show and tell of Ziggy's nursery. Right before he was born, his parents, designers and taste makers Mike and Janice Fung, let me come over and snap some pictures of Ziggy's room, a converted princess playroom, freshly vacated by his older sisters Noe and Lula. The space is small, but light-filled, looking out into the backyard and neighborhood facades. With the orange and black of the Giants as a source of inspiration, they created a space that is warm and cheerful, and celebrates San Francisco with locally sourced accents and wall art. What always strikes me about the Fung's home is the way every room is completely put together and their perfect use of bold color. Ziggy's room is painted Tangy Orange by Benjamin Moore. They just go for it, and it always works.   

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