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

12 November 2009

"jennifer, you are a Glamorous Classic."

why, THANK YOU. i just KNEW IT.

for a bit of end-of-the-week/ "hum-dee-dum i'm so bored" fun, check out the HomeGoods style scope test here. (thanks, nicole!)

and, for giggles, this is what deborah pegged me as:

"Jennifer, you are a Glamorous Classic.

You have a refined sensibility with an appreciation for history and tradition in your furniture and your rooms. You value beauty and craftsmanship. You are visually sensitive and understand how symmetry and a balanced layout give order to a room. But you definitely like to shake things up with some unabashed luxury and glamour to keep things from getting boring. You go for rich materials like velvets, one-of-a-kind objects, lady-like touches, glimmering accessories, and a sense of old-Hollywood romance that makes your home dramatic and elegant.

You value creativity. You are stylish and fun loving, and can be an inspiration to others. You have a natural sense of drama, and you know you have to be willing to take risks—whether with colors, finishes, furniture choices, or ideas—for your home to stand out. Your home can be happy and lively and the place all of your friends want to be.

Putting Your Style to Work!

With your style and needs in mind, here are a few tips that will help you make your home a little happier.

1. Your Design Challenge: ORGANIZE The front hall sets the mood for your entire home.

Consider how to accommodate all the room's functions as beautifully as possible. At the very least you need a console, and if you're short on storage, consider a dresser. Outfit the surface with nice trays and bowls for mail, keys and sunglasses. Keep a trash can for immediately tossing the junk mail. Closet-door or wall hooks encourage coat and bag hanging rather than dumping. If you have children, try to give each a basket in the closet for hats and gloves. It's nice to have a chair or bench for changing shoes, a mirror for last-minute lipstick checks, and a lamp or sconces for warm light.

2. Your Happy Place Choose a color or two that harmonizes with the tableware you already own, and collect things like linens, glasses, dessert plates, or platters in those hues. This is a fantastic way to liven up a plain, white table setting. And if you can, set the table the night before a dinner party, so you can really take pleasure in tending to the details.

3. Be Party-Ready All the Time! Mood: Nice, flattering light makes us feel good. So nix the harsh, direct light from overhead fixtures in favor of the softer glow from floor and table lamps. Also, keep some votive candles and a couple of hurricane lanterns for setting around the room.

Scent: The first thing you notice about a home is how it smells. Use naturally fragrant cleaning products. If you find a scented candle or fresh potpourri you love, stock up on it. Any scent you like, whether perfume or linen spray, can be used on upholstery, bedding or just spritzed into the air.

Food: Devote space in your pantry or on a shelf for go-to party essentials: crackers, dip, chips, nuts—whatever you like to serve. Keep on hand a collection of attractive bowls and cocktail napkins, and you'll be able to set a spread—instantly!

Drink: The simplest and chicest thing is to have a drinks tray or table always set up. Include a mix of pretty glasses, an ice bucket, a lovely pitcher, and bottles of soda and water. When the bell rings, just add ice and limes."

where i come from...

living room bay window with views of russian hill

i've been in love with victorian architecture as long as i can remember, but the apartment that i moved into after graduating college (and lived in for 10 years) really developed this love into a full-on affair to remember.

i gave up my final key to the place yesterday - i know, i know, time to move on already - so here's a look at her on my last day.

she's a grand old dame and she's the inspiration for lots of projects that are percolating in this pretty little head of mine...

ceiling detail above bay window

corner molding in living room

my bedroom (above and below)

view from my bed, all the way to the front bay

bedroom detail - door and molding

crown molding in my bedroom

window frame in my bedroom

second bedroom - or what i affectionately called "the shoe room"

main stairwell

molding and lincrusta in the main stairway

close up of banister and newel posts

farewell, apartment c. you brought me so much joy over the years - i grew up and figured out who i was with you. i hope your next partner loves and cherishes you as much as i did.

11 November 2009

you're the inspiration.

this is the burr mansion. i lived one block away from it for over ten years. when i moved to san francisco, and was lucky enough to find a beautiful victorian apartment to live in, i would often wander past this house - stopping to smell the roses, pausing to get a night time peek in the windows. it is indescribably beautiful.

fast forward a few years and i come to find out that a new friend of mine, mirjana, worked there as an au pair after moving here from serbia. sadly she could not take me to visit, but she told me about the interior and the views and the parties (they'd often set up lighted tents on the property and stationed 5 valets outside - i'd just dream of holding an invitation so i could wander).

view from the top level

it's for sale now, for just under 7 million dollars. if i had it, i would buy it - what a dream come true... i just hope that the next family cherishes it as much as the last and that, someday, i receive that party invitation.

here's some more information about the house from the sfgate:

envy-inducing photo gallery here: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/c/a/2009/11/11/BU241AI386.DTL&o=

and some detail:

"Asking price: $6,995,000, or about $999 per square foot

Description: This city landmark survived the 1906 earthquake in style after being built in 1875 by Ephraim Burr, one of San Francisco's earliest mayors. The estate-like gated property has four levels and includes a wine cellar, a media room, a front parlor, a main parlor, a foyer, a private study, an exercise room and a garden cottage.

Don't miss: The parklike gardens

Size: Approximately 7,000 square feet (plus 700-square-foot guest house), with 5 bedrooms, 4 1/2 bathrooms and 2-car garage. Lot is 12,535 square feet.

Built: 1875

For information: www.sfproperties.com

To suggest homes for the Walk-Through: realestate@sfchronicle.com. To suggest homes for the Walk-Through: realestate@sfchronicle.com.

This article appeared on page D - 3 of the San Francisco Chronicle"

i <3 korean barbecue.

i'm ethnically chinese/ taiwanese (and bunches of other stuff) but, man, do i love me some korean barbecue. set me in front of a plate piled high with kalbi, kimchi and japchae and i am a happy girl. (you - not so much because, no, i will not share.)

so, i finally taught myself to make kalbi (marinated short ribs) at home - it's so tasty, everyone loves it, and it's easy to make enough for a big group.

this weekend i had a dinner party for 10, so i just bought 10 pounds of korean short ribs to serve. these are beef ribs, cut l.a. style, into flat pieces with small rounds of ribs all across the top. i bought kimchi (spicy pickled cabbage is most common) and japchae (cellophane noodles with vegetables in sesame and soy sauce), but i'm learning those now too!

my sous chefs

here's the recipe:

* 4-6 pounds of korean short-ribs (if you don't have a FAB local korean market like i do, you can ask your local butcher to do this for you)
* 1 1/2 cups soy sauce
* 3/4 to 1 cup white sugar - i go a bit heavier on the sugar for extra caramelization
* 1/4 cup sesame oil
* 5 cloves of garlic, minced
* 3 large green onions, cut into small pieces
* 2 tbl toasted sesame seeds
* 1/2 to 1 tsp of red pepper flakes - again, i go a bit heavier because i like spicy

1. mix all ingredients, except for the meat, in a large bowl.
2. place meat into large freezer bag(s) and cover with marinade.
3. place in refrigerator for several hours (at least 4) or overnight. turn at least once so all of the ribs are well marinated.
4. remove from refrigerator when ready to barbecue.

at this point, i'd suggest pouring the marinade into a saucepan and cooking over medium/ medium-high until reduced. be sure to bring it to a rolling boil at least once to kill any nasty bacteria that might ruin your night.

in the meantime, cook ribs over very hot grill until they are brown and a bit charred/ caramel-y.

when reduced, and when ribs are ready, serve reduced marinade for dipping or drizzling over noodles and ribs.

not the best picture i could have taken, but i was HUNGRY.

honestly, this could not be simpler. and your friends will eat until they are sick (which is good because i like company when i do the same).


happy campers
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