Friday, September 28, 2012

DIY Friday: Hopscotch

Earlier this week I did a post about the accessibility of modern design for children. I was thinking about this concept when I began working on this week's DIY. Even as an adult, when I stumble upon a hopscotch grid I can't resist the temptation to make my way through it.  I think the patterns are rather beautiful in form and functionality. In the summer you can make one just about anywhere with a piece of sidewalk chalk.  So as the rainy season approaches, I've been thinking about bringing the beauty inside. This week's project is an indoor mat made from a canvas drop cloth, some masking tape and a black acrylic  paint.  Picture tutorial below. Happy Weekend!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Talk Soup

Last Halloweentime we hosted a little pumpkin carving party at our house and made a pumpkin soup that knocked everyone's sock off (perhaps it was the truffle oil floated on each serving).  We're reprising the soup this year for our new school friends and their families, which might have me chopping up 25 pumpkins to feed everyone. That's a lot of pumpkins. Here's the the recipe...

Curried Pumpkin Soup
serves 4 generous portions

1 medium sugar pumpkin
1 yellow onion
3 tbsp olive oil
8 cups chicken stock
3 tbsp sliced ginger
3 tbsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp curry 
1 tsp white pepper
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Chop pumpkin into 3 inch pieces, chop yellow onion into wedges, and drizzle with olive oil on a sheet pan.  Roast until soft, about 25 minutes.

While the pumpkin is roasting, bring stock and ginger to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover.

Once cool enough to touch, scoop pumpkin flesh from rind into the stock, add roasted onions, allow to simmer until very soft, about 10 minutes.  Using a immersion blender, puree until fairly smooth (I prefer it to have a little grit).  Add nutmeg, curry, pepper, and salt, simmer for another 20 minutes to build flavor.

I serve the soup with a dollop of Greek yogurt or when being extra decadent, a teaspoon float of truffle oil, and lots of crusty bread.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Shining Happy People

wooden dolls girard
Alexander Girard's Wooden Dolls

One of the reasons I enjoy mid century artists and design is that it speaks to my life right now.  Eames, Girard, Risom, and Calder made things that were functional, simple, accessible, and delightful, even for children. Their work extends beyond shell rocking chairs and mobiles. Here are two creations in motion guaranteed to make you smile.

The Eames duo designed the "Do Nothing Machine", a solar powered toy for the ALCOA's Forecast Garden Collection, that literally did nothing, except harness the power of the sun(in 1957). It was also really fun to look at. "It is not supposed to do. It is supposed to be. Its whole function is in its being." Ray Eames 

Alexander Calder is best known for his beautiful bent wire mobiles, but his intricate wire circus is truly stunning.  Here he is performing the circus back in 1952 (originally created in 1927). 

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Soft Spot

What you are observing here is my carpet, a tiny digger, and some real dirt. Fortunately it was dry dirt. I should be mad, but here's the thing, I really love vacuuming. It's methodical and relaxing, and totally unlike cleaning the bathroom. I also love my boyfriend Dyson and the Sting looking guy who invented him, and I love having a carpeted home. I find it decadent to lay on the floor and read magazines, and I love the warmth underfoot when I step out of bed in the morning. There was a time when I refused to consider looking at an apartment that wasn't completely hardwood, but now I can't imagine life without carpet, which I'm sure has something to do with having kids.  Don't get me wrong, I still need a little hardwood with an accent rug in my life, but more for aesthetics, not for living. What do you think?  Carpet or hardwood?

Friday, September 21, 2012

DIY Friday: Flora & Fauna

martha stewart

When we were at Acre Coffee the other day enjoying our steamed soy milk and latte, respectively, Wylie and I sat and admired their beautiful table displays.  They were glass jars with what I thought looked like succulents, some dry moss and little figurines, so cool, we thought we needed to make one (or many) of our own.  I took a trip to our gardening center and found out that what I was looking for was actually called Tillandsias.  They are commonly known as Air Plants, because they don't root in soil, you simply submerge them in water once or twice a week, shake them and put them back.  I can do that.  To give it an apothecary, spooky feel I decided to make our terrarium with brown dry moss and small feathered crows which I found at the craft store, twiggy branches from our yard, and a couple of my new air plants. I like the idea of switching out the birds and twigs for a new look during the holidays, and then again in Spring. Happy Weekend!

air plants

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Sometimes I am a glorified lunch lady. I feel for them, I really do. On most days, my 1st grader's sandwich returns home smashed back into it's container, mostly intact, baby carrots dried up, an apple with one bite out of it, pretzels crushed into a powder. I am told that there just wasn't enough time to eat it, but I know this cannot possibly true. I make a mean sandwich, I assure you... So I'm trying something new. Both of my boys love sushi, as do a lot of kids these days.  I've tried sending it for lunch in the past, but it gets pretty banged up and half of it comes home uneaten; I also get a little worried about raw fish in a lunchbox. So I was very excited when I found this recipe for hand ball sushi (Temarizushi) in a regional food magazine called Edible.  The golf ball sized rolls are packed tightly in plastic wrap, keeping them firm and easy to eat.  For Jasper's school version I used smoked salmon, avocado and nori squares (detail created with a hole punch) with sticky rice.  Both kids had the hand rolls today and I'm happy to report that the lunch box returned home empty. Quick tutorial below...

Make a batch of sticky rice (recipes abound) I use 1 cup short grain white rice with 2 cups water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. To give it the sushi punch mix a tbsp of rice wine vinegar with a tsp of sugar, stir and combine with cooked rice.  Once it's cooled to room temperature, make golf ball sized portions (use a little water on your hands to prevent sticking.  Cut Nori into squares, add detail with a punch. Apply thin slices of avocado and/or smoked fish (or whatever you like that day).  Wet the nori squares, place on the balls and cover them in plastic wrap, pulling taught and securing the end into knots.  Refrigerate, and serve for up to 3 days (raw should be eaten that day).
Recipe idea by Jennifer Carden for Edible Marin & Wine Country.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Cover Up: Guest Post by Jen from Day By Daily

Let me start by saying a big thank you to Heather for inviting me here to guest post. I am lucky enough to know Heather in real life, and let me tell you that it is a treat to be invited to her house (hint, hint). Her boys are wild much like my own, but her home is always happy and beautiful (and clean!). There is always something delicious to eat, and some cool new DIY that has been done. I always check in to Poppy Haus hoping she has revealed THE BIG SECRET of how she does it all. But on to the goods...

Books in my house seem to come in four flavors: 1) children's books 2) one time reads/novels 3) beautiful books and 4) less-then-pretty reference books (aka my slightly embarrassing stack of ragged self help and parenting books). In the past I have resorted to turning the spines of my less attractive books to the wall, jut to reduce the amount of visual clutter. But the fact is, I refer to those books fairly often and want to see their titles.

So what's a girl to do? Yes, I could cover them all in craft paper. But here's the thing. I'm kind of lazy. Covering all those books would take hours. Instead I opted for a quick and easy alternative. With just a little paper packing tape, washi tape, and a white gel pen I covered and catagorized this stack of books in less than 10 minutes.

I like how the newly covered books just disappear into the background. Better than calling attention to my copy of "How to Make Friends and Influence People". In my case I used the Washi tape to catagorize Parenting books vs Self Help. A plain stack of books would also be lovely.

*Note that trying to remove the paper packing tape may result in some tearing. I wouldn't use it on any books of value. My collection came to me mostly second hand, and were already quite tattered.

Thank you Jen! Check out Day By Daily for more of her crafty ideas, reflections on motherhood, and stunning photography.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Swept Away

I discovered these dreamy paintings by Clare Elsaesser in an Etsy treasury this morning and I'm blown away by the vivid color and romantic subject matter. She's local to me, from the coastal town of Jenner, and many of her paintings use the Pacific as a backdrop, so they feel very personal to this native Northern Califorian. See all her work at Tastes Orangey. There's more.  Her husband Kai Samuels-Davis is also an amazing painter.  His work is moody and dark, and like his wife, he paints portraits, objects and coastal landscape. Windylane Studio.

Friday, September 14, 2012

DIY Friday: Rag Rug Pillow

placemat pillow

I'm trying to incorporate some more "flea market" pieces into my home, but this is a tough proposition for me, being kind of a modernist at heart.  If the lines are clean, I can do it.  I found these rag rug placemats at Anthropologie for $8 a piece. They also carry a metallic Moroccan version that could be very sophisticated. For a floor pillow version use 2x3 rugs and a standard pillow for an instert. In about 45 minutes I had a colorful, textural statement pillow.  This project is hand stitched, so anyone with a needle and thread can do this.  Happy Weekend! Tutorial below...


Gather your materials:

2 rag rug placemats
1 12x16 pillow insert 
Binder clamps
Needle and thread (I used thick white cotton thread)
Clamp the mats together with the outside facing in.  I used clamps, because the rugs were far to thick to use a straight pin.  Stitch  the length of one side and then the other, removing the clamps as your reach them, leaving the fringed ends open.  Turn the case right side out.

Insert the pillow.  I had to wrap extra batting around mine to fill the interior, because my insert was a little skimpy.  When you purchase a 12X16, make sure it's fluffy, or pick up a little blanket batting to wrap yours as well. Clamp on end of the pillow on one side to hold the pillow in place.  Stitch the ends together taking care to keep the tassels on the outside.

Once both ends are stitched, fluff and straighten the tassels. Your all set to lounge.  While sturdy, the pillow is also comfy.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Pink Taco

Perfect with carnitas tacos, I will sometimes make a cantina-style pickled vegetable jar a few hours before serving. The pink color comes from the red onion reacting with the warm vinegar brine and the brightness in flavor adds a punch to salty pork. Hungry?  Here's the recipe...
In a freshly washed glass jar, layer sliced carrots, red onions, shredded cabbage, radish, and jalepenos (if you like the spice).  

In a medium saucepan dissolve 1/8 cup of salt in 2 cups of white vinegar.  Add one smashed garlic clove and 1 tbsp of dried oregano, plus one cup of water.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

Pour the brine through a sieve into the jar until vegetables are completely covered.  Put the lid on the jar and refrigerate until ready to serve (at least 1 hour).  

Keep refrigerated for up to a week.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Herbal Essence

DIY dried herbs

Every week my husband comes home with a dozen eggs from a local farm, fresh picked blackberries, and on occasion, pounds of produce from the parents and teachers who keep large gardens or farms out in Tomales.  I know, super bummer. Yesterday he presented me with three gallon bags of fresh herbs, which left in the refrigerator might last 1-2 weeks. Roasting herbs brings out their natural oils and serves as a quick way to dry them and extends their use for months.  Simply rinse and pat dry, put them on a baking sheet at 180 degrees with the oven door slightly ajar for air circulation, and roast for 2-4 hours. The aromatics are unbelievable. You can keep some out on the counter for immediate use, or store in air tight jars.  I love to use roasted oregano in salsas and dry rubs, as well as pasta sauce.  I'm roasting orange mint leaves for tea.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Shops

the curiosity shop at target
Yesterday, I whipped up some blueberry pancakes, got them on the table and ran out the door to check out The Shops at Target, which debuted an offering from one of my favorites, the Curiosity Shoppe.  For me this stuff is way more exciting than Missoni; I've always had reservations about the quality of the designer clothing for Target. But yesterday I stood, apologetically, with a small group of like minded gals waiting for the boxes of the Curiosity Shoppe to be unpacked. My favorite things are these pretty party props ($5) with glasses, lips and mustaches, a pair of wooden arrow salad spoons, and this set of stamps in fonts looking a lot like Alexander Girard, Eames, and helvetica, something you'd never be able to cobble together on your own, especially for $10. 

Also in The Shops is a housewares collection from Patch NYC.  If you like vintage looking forest creatures, this is for you.  I snagged this deer cookie jar in a pretty mushroom color for $29.

the curiosity shoppe

Deer Cookie jar

Friday, September 7, 2012

DIY Friday: Patina Planters

I love the mixed metal and mercury glass trend in houswares right now. It gives a vintage patina to the object, no matter how modern it is. For this week's DIY I set out to make some containers that could be used for houseplants, herbs or as a rustic vase. Happy Weekend! Tutorial below.

Gather your materials:

Quart or Gallon sized unused paint can(s)
Nail or drill bit (for dimpling)
Gold spray paint
Duct tape

Hammer and or/dimple the can by striking it to achieve desired shape.  Spray paint and allow to dry.

Press duct tape onto the can pulling back gently to release some of the paint.  Brushing any jagged paint until the surface is completely smooth and desired patina is achieved.

Time to plant!  Drill a hole in the bottom if your plants require drainage.  If using as a vase, it might be a good idea to spray a matte coat of sealer to keep the paint intact.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pretty In Pink

I love this warm ballet pink with mustard, black and ivory palate, and I super love the campers. Are campers the new foxes?  I think so. These art block prints by Red Tile Studio are available from $29 on Etsy (they have all your favorite forest animals too).

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Little Corner of the World

Point Reyes Farmer's Market

I love to take day trips to the small towns that scatter Western Marin County, the Russian River, and Sonoma County.  It used to mean an hour or two in the car without traffic, but now I am right here in the middle of it all.  Last weekend we met up with all the cousins in Pt. Reyes Station for farmer's market and a quick trip to Cow Girl Creamery.  It's no secret that I love a well put together market, and this one might be the most idyllic I've ever been to.  Highlights were Brickmaiden Breads, grilled cheese sandwiches, scaling bags of manure (yes, that's right), and the unbelievable pressed Gravenstein apple cider.  The market also had a cooking demo for kids featuring refrigerator pickles, a great offering of organic produce, live music, and the requisite pour over coffee stand. Every Sunday 9am-1pm from June through November.  

Point Reyes Farmer's Market

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