30 December 2009

be our guest! (guest room reveal. sort of.)

"be our guest! be our guest!
our command is your request
it's been years since we've had anybody here
and we're obsessed
with your meal, with your ease
yes, indeed, we aim to please..."

with gina moved out and the holidays upon us, it was time to do a bit of "sprucing" in the guest bedroom. and, while it's not completely finished (there are more furniture pieces to find and acquire), it's done enough for guests and, thus, for this unveiling.

if you recall, this is what i started with. yes, the entire house was this color, including the ceilings in many places (and this room was one of them). *ugh*

and, you may also recall, by a stroke of luck (or, as i prefer to refer to it, GENIUS), i made a game time decision and chose to paint the room in a lovely shade of greeny-blue - "beach water" by ralph lauren. it looks like a pistachio ice cream milkshake and it's SO lovely.

from there it took some time to develop the look and feel of the room. i had lots of conflicting thoughts on everything except for the bed.

the bed was to be white-on-white-on-white-on-white. something that guests could sink into like a cloud and really feel at home in. luckily, ikea has a lovely vintage-feeling wrought iron scrollwork bed, the "leirvik", and at $80 (on sale) for a full it's a steal.

bedding is a mix of whites as well. jacquard dot sheets from both martha stewart and target (theirs are sold out online, but you can still find them in-store) for a mix of textures and sheens, paired with a big fluffy down comforter from pacific coast down (a DEAL at costco), and a coverlet from target for warmer nights (or nights that require extra warmth) - all of these make for a nice hotel-like bed to burrow into.

the room was still missing some ZING though and i was lacking in inspiration. so, a couple of days ago, while mourning the loss of my favorite candy store in the city (the AMAZING miette on hayes), i decided to go for a vintage candy shop feel.

as luck would have it, i was returning some gifts at anthropologie that day and a shower curtain that i'd been flirting with for months caught my eye. our windows are 70" tall (HUGE) so a shower curtain is actually the perfect height for them. (and i don't think there should be any rules in a house about what goes where, so why not a shower curtain in a bedroom?).

as you can see, this curtain adds so much punch to the room, both color-wise and in terms of texture. in the daytime, with the sun streaming in behind it, it literally lights up the room with all of those lovely colors. and it provides a much-needed palate for the remaining furniture and accessories purchases. (note also the switch plates and outlet covers that i agonized over.)

i also had to choose a color for the closet interior, to continue my "project doorway". it was a tough choice - i wanted something cheerful but not distracting. i ended up choosing a blueish-emerald to bring out the tones in the wall. it's behr's "precious emerald" in high gloss. i love it.

and, finally, to make the room habitable, i added just a couple of temporary touches. a small rattan bench seat that i have had since i was a little girl. a potted plant for freshening the air. and some GORGEOUS lollipops in blue and green as a nod to my initial inspiration (they will eventually end up upright on a desk - i have one just like this, it was my dad's homework desk when he was a boy - or table).

hope you all like it! please let me know if you have any fab ideas for accessories or furniture - i'm hoping to poke around the local antiques fair next month!

oh - and start booking now! san francisco is super this time of year!

jen x

p.s. i know i am SUPER behind on posts, so i'll plan on two next week: "best holiday pie ever" (bookmark it for next year) and my master bedroom reveal because *YAY* i've finally received my chandelier!

lights out - nap time!

07 December 2009

sandra and john get engaged.

60 cupcakes, 12 bottles of champagne and more-cheese-than-you-can-shake-a-stick-at consumed - pretty good for a sunday night!

as many of you well know, i love a good (or any, really) reason to throw a party. last night i had the pleasure of co-hosting, with my good friend elaine, an engagement party for two of my favorite people at my home.

i met john when i was involved in "team in training's" san francisco triathlon team. he's incredibly handsome... so i'd assumed he was just another playboy. instead he turned out to be one of the most genuine people i have met in my adult life. he's caring and kind and he's like the little brother i've always hoped for.

sandra i met a couple of years later. while we went to college together, i'd never had the pleasure of meeting her. i finally got the chance when several friends decided to travel to peru to hike the inka trail to machu picchu and she decided to join us. she was instantly lovable - a strong, independent (and half-asian, so gorgeous) girl who has a soft spot for people in need. i was friend-crushing on her immediately.

so, our mutual friend amanda (a sneaky little minx) hatched a plan to fix them up. they were perfect for each other and we would hound and cajole them until they realized it too!

and now, 3 years later, there's a ring on her finger and a brand new puppy to love.

here are a few shots of the decorations for the party we hosted - though i failed to take any of the guests as i was far too busy enjoying myself.

it was a simple affair - cupcakes (carrot for he and yellow with chocolate for she, and chocolate with brown butter or cream cheese for everyone else), champagne cocktails (with elderflower liqueur and fresh peach, blackberry and raspberry puree for mixers), and my favorite french candies for all. oh, and enough cheese to put everyone into a coma.

it was so nice to wake up to 6 dozen roses on my doorstep! thanks, "babe"!

party prep in progress (and yes, all cupcakes and frostings were from scratch!).

fresh flowers, in red and pink, everywhere.

elaine and her doug start pouring for the guests!

sandra and john, may you be incredibly happy and may life bring you all of the blessings you deserve. i love you both!

xoxo jen

P.S. since i was cleaning and making 75 cupcakes already, i decided to make it an even hundred and hosted "rad friend event" #1 at my house on saturday night.

here are a few photos of said rad friends sitting by the tree, watching classic christmas cartoons, with homemade persimmon old-fashioneds (thanks, nicole!).

02 December 2009

operation "trim der tree" complete.

okay, i must admit, there's no REAL point to this post other than to show off my AWESOME tree. it took hours to decorate (and i still have to trim, for real, the bottom a bit) but i LURVE him.

he's 11 feet of holiday glory and he makes me feel all tingly and happy inside when he's turned on.

do you have yours up yet? share your photos with me - i can't get enough of this stuff!

01 December 2009

christmas, christmas time is here!

remember this one?! oh, the memories!

TREE! wheeeeeeeeeeeee!

i am a total holiday dorkus. and i'm OKAY with that. every year i get a 10+ foot tree and park it in my living room. and while this year my living room is a bit more "petit", it seemed wrong to go smaller on the tree when i have so much to celebrate and be thankful for.

so, on saturday morning, g and i went to get trees (one for each of us) to ring in the holiday season.

gina and "doug" the douglas fir

mah boo (the tree, not the dude - though he was very nice). i like "noble" trees (and men, if you know any!).

this was no easy feat! strapping two hulking trees to my bike racks and getting them safely home on 280 was a team effort. and i had to drive like a 90-year-old (i mean slow, and not plowing into markets and houses).

okay, technically this photo is from my sunday trip to ikea (more on that later), but i NEVER get tired of crossing the bridge into this beautiful city!

hope you are enjoying the holiday season and all of the friends, family and traditions you hold dear.

merry, merry!

jen xx

me, atop my 10-foot ladder, trimming my tree

23 November 2009

curtain call. (10 easy steps to silk curtains.)

i don't want to show you TOO much of my bedroom and ruin the surprise (i'm still waiting on my bedding and my AMAZING chandelier), but i thought some of you might find this quick tutorial helpful.

one of the best ways to create a bit of drama in a room, and to give it some added height and "dimension", is to add some great window treatments. i, personally, have a fondness for silk dupioni curtains - but i find the price for ready-made prohibitive. i mean, like, FAINT-WORTHY prohibitive.

because i am blessed with a bedroom that has 12-foot ceilings and 4 very tall windows, the ones i browsed at pottery barn (the tallest they've got) were $179 PER PANEL. multiply by 4 and throw in the rods and clips and liners and i just about had a HEART ATTACK. (plus, i'll be honest, i just don't like shopping there.)

instead, i found two FANTASTIC sources of silk online, silkuneed.com and silkbaron.com. they both carry loads of lovely colors and all for $9.99 a yard or less. i spoke with the owner of silkuneed, pam, and she shipped me some samples that were not available on her website. i was able to match my paint exactly!

so, i ordered up 14 yards at $8.99. add on the thread i needed at $3.99, and i had the equivalent of what would have cost well over $700 at pottery barn for under $130.

next was a pit stop to hancock fabrics for thread and black-out lining. at $5.99 a yard, this is a very good investment. it helps with city noise reduction, heat retention, and lets me sleep past 6:30am - when my room turns into a vampire's worst nightmare (that link is for you, melissa. i still refuse to give in!)... you know, minus the crosses, holy, water, garlic and silver stakes (unless you count the hand-dandy maglite 4-cell i keep next to my bed as a silver stake).

OKAY - time to head back to mom's house and get to stitchin'!

step one: roll out black-out liner nice and flat. smooth with your hand.

step two: line up cut fabric ends and roll silk onto liner. smooth as well. (*note: if you're using a fabric that looks different on each side, place the side you want to display away from you - i.e. when you roll it out, you should see the back of your fabric.)

step three: pin top and sides. pin further than the length of your curtain.

step four: measure both sides to desired length. my windows are 108" high, so i opted for 112". i wanted them to puddle gracefully on the floor (this also allows for more error than ones that skim the floor - you'll need to be much more precise).

step 5: using a fabric marker and a level, draw a straight line across your fabrics. cut along this line and pin next curtain top as you go.

step 6: (ask mom to) sew top and sides of curtain to liner.

step seven: trim excess fabric around your hems.

step eight: turn panel inside out and smooth.

step nine: (ask mom to) stitch bottom as desired. i like to do this by hand so you see no thread at all on the finished curtain. (but you could just as easily zip along the edge with a machine in 30 seconds.)

REPEAT steps 1-9 as necessary.

step 10: hang your lovely curtains! i bought simple satin nickel double rods by levolor at home depot for $24.99 a piece. to hang the panels, i bought 1" nickel drapery clips at target for $4.99 a pack (one per panel).

these make hanging curtains a snap. just clip them and go! and the look is much cleaner than pole pockets (*blech*).

i'm still working on the tiebacks (and the sheers that will hang behind the curtains), but you can buy or make whatever you like. you'll see them in my bedroom "afters" soon.

here's a breakdown of what i spent:

silk: 14 yards at $8.99 - $125.86
black-out fabric: 14 yards @ $5.99 - $83.86
thread: $3.99 for one roll
curtain rods: $24.99 x 4 - $99.96
drapery clips: $4.99 x 4 - $19.96

TOTAL: $333.63 (compared with well over $1000 at pottery barn or equivalent) and about 2 hours of sewing.

this is a project that saves you LOTS of cash and can be done by even the most "beginner" of sartors and seamstresses (though my mom is a PRO).

hope you've enjoyed this how-to! let me know if you have questions!

and a BIG KISS to mom for all of the help! xx

19 November 2009

return to form.

there's a lotsa stuff a-brewin' over at the house these days, what with the tenants leaving and the arrival of so many yards of silk that i just want to stay home from work and roll around in it.

hoping to have some good, home renovatin' posts for you tomorrow and monday.

can you stand the wait?!

that takes the cake! (a "how to".)

this past weekend marked the 3rd birthday of my favorite little girls - my nieces charlotte and emily (yes, they were named after the brontë sisters).

at age three, they are finally aware of the significance of a birthday and were looking forward to their party, presents and, especially, their cake (they are being raised by a pair of international foodies).

so, this year it was up to them to decide on the theme of their cake, and they wanted a merry-go-'round. they specifically said "no horses" and requested a cassowary (did i mention that they are also exceptionally bright?), alligator and owl, among others.

the cake, needless to say, was a huge success. the kids, and the adults, loved it. sarah and i were very proud (and not a little exhausted).

here follows a tutorial on building a merry-go-'round cake of your own (please excuse the crappy quality of the photos - all were taken with my camera phone. again.).

using two 12-inch cake pans, bake your favorite cake recipe. i prefer a good devil's food cake.

make your favorite filling (that'll be ganache for me) and frosting (salted, browned butter) as well.

frost evenly and place in your freezer until firm. (emily and charlotte anxiously looking on.)

choose your color for the base. we went with cornflower blue, which required some mixing.

note that we normally mix all colors by hand using gel and powders, so it was a TREAT to work with these pre-colored fondants!

mix your colors.

knead, knead, knead.

roll, roll, roll. roll it out to about 15-inch circle.

lay gently over cake and smooth.

trim the excess and reserve for top.

cover 6-inch cylinder with fondant. (you can make or buy one.) we used white.

for extra sparkle, we painted it with gold dust (mixed with rum to adhere).

cover seam with decorative band. we used rainbow metallic dragées. (placed one-by-one with tweezers. UGH.)

cover a 12-inch cake base in fondant. (here, again, we used cornflower blue). center on cylinder.

oh boy! that's a BIG cleaver!

select eight 1/4-inch dowels. dust with gold powder for shimmer.

cut to desired height. should be just an inch taller than the top of the "top". (we learned this the hard way so you don't have to!)

place dowels in two sets of four. one square should run close to the edge of your top. the other should be set back an inch and be rotated 180-degrees. add a taller one dead-center.

take a break and eat a banana. and some cheese. hey - i like them both.

add a decorative edge to the "top". we used a scalloped press and glued pieces on with water. we also added gold dragées at each seam for decorative effect.

place decorative edge on cake's bottom seam. here we used "happy birthday" ribbon.

time for the fun part. sarah made the fondant animals (yes, they're completely edible) in advance to save us some time. and there's your cassowary on the bottom left!

using super glue, add animals to your dowels.

roll out two colors of fondant, we chose red and white, and cut 4 long triangles of each for the tent top. (you'll need to do some calculations of your own here based on how tall you want it. let dry overnight.)

also, make snall flag for tippy-top and roll over dowels to dry. we added a "3" to mark the occasion.

before serving, add all triangles and flag. reinforce with super glue if needed.

stand back and admire your work!

deliver to adoring public.

let them play. (note, we placed the cake on a lazy-susan for extra fun.)

then let them eat cake! i think you can tell from the looks on their faces that there were no complaints!

and here, in case you're curious, are some of the other cakes we've collaborated on over the last couple of years: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=16718&id=721881537&l=7e4ea01e83
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