15 December 2010

oh, you fancy, huh? (an easy how-to for custom pillows)

my most recent "creations"

pillows are a great way to punch up a space with color, pattern, texture (and shine - OOH, SHINY!). they are also super easy, even if you don't know how to sew.

grab someone who has a machine and ask them (nicely - don't be so bossy, fancy!) to set it up and show you how to sew a straight line and you'll have a new pillow in no time!

here's what you need:

- a sewing machine
- fabric. 1 yard will do for most of you. throw pillows at 16x16 are pretty standard.
- thread to match your fabric
- pins
- pillow insert (i like west elm's feather/ down versions, but any poly version would work well too)
and here's your how-to...
1. measure your pillow. in this example, mine is 16"x16".

2. cut your fabric with a width equal to the shorter pillow dimension (in this case it does not matter since width and length are the same). cut the length to 2x the length of your pillow + 4 inches.

in my case, the fabric i need is 16"x36".
3. with the backside of the fabric facing up, fold over one inch on each edge of the fabric's length. pin and sew. your fabric will now be 2 inches shorter in length.
4. now, with the backside of the fabric still facing out, fold your fabric into a little envelope.

the length should be 1 inch smaller than the length of your pillow - in this case 15".

the width will remain the same as those sides remain "unfinished".

pin the unfinished sides and sew 1/2-inch in from each. this will give you a finished size 1 inch smaller than your pillow in each measured dimension.
5. turn your pillow cover finished side out and insert your pillow form. your pillow should be nice and full because the cover is just a tad tight.

now sit back and enjoy your handiwork!

maybe you even have time to make some festive pillows for the holidays. throw 'em on the sofa for a refresher before the family arrives, toss a couple on the guest bed for an update, or make one for your room to FANCY it up!

13 December 2010

curtain call redux! (10 easy steps to silk curtains)

new sparkly curtains for the dining room (please, as usual, excuse the mess!)

well, my dears, i am finally making some headway in the dining room - it's beginning to look like a place where i might ACTUALLY entertain.
in an effort to lively up the place, i made another set of silk curtains this weekend. they turned out fab so i thought i'd share the instructions again. they are very easy and very inexpensive compared to ready-made panels (and even more so if you'd have to have them custom made like i would for my monster windows).
so, without further ado, here you go...


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 quick 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

10 December 2010

christmas, christmas time is here...

christmas has arrived at fog city sparkle!

and while the tree is not quite as tall as last year's (this year's is a lil' 10-footer), i hope you'll enjoy this sneak peek of the decorations that are going up.
can i just say how much i LOVE this garland? i really really do. it's shiny, has glitter, and is all sorts of wild colors. SO AWESOME.

hope your holiday season, whatever you celebrate, is filled with laughter and light. xx

me an' mah baby.

i heart my house! (and ace hardware!)

just sent to me by a friend. i love this photo!

and, ladies, remember, when headed to the hardware store it never hurts to put a little extra effort into your outfit. much better service...

jen xx

07 December 2010

guest room PWN.

that's right, my guest room got PWNed! jen FTW! (do i sound dorky enough today?)

it's been far too long since i have updated y'all on this sweet little treat of a room.

funnily enough, when we moved in, this room was my absolute last priority. many of you also know that i chose the color on a whim (read: panic) one night before some of my friends (read: free labor!) came over to help paint.

shortly thereafter, by the grace of the god of decorating, it turned out to be one of my first finished and most-loved rooms. and the reaction to it has been universally enthusiastic - even from men who surely, i thought, would HATE the color scheme and ruffles.

to remind you, we started here. bad paint. bad carpet. bad bad bad!
a lil' paint. floor recovered from years of abuse...and then we were here. but no nightstands! quelle horreur!
and now, thanks to my LOVELY friend aviva for these pretty pictures, i can show you where we've landed...

welcome, dear guest!
ahhh... so RELAXING!
a book for your pleasure?
or a freshly plumped pillow?
maybe a lollipop the size of your head?
and then off to dream about your next escape...

yup, this is how we do in fog city. ;)

23 November 2010

best holiday pie recipe EVER!

worthy of a re-post now that the holiday season is upon us!

look, can we all agree that everyone loves pumpkin pie? it's a national treasure.

problem is, come holiday time, there are three national treasures to choose from for your big holiday meals. pumpkin. apple. pecan. HOW on earth is a person supposed to decide?!

well, i think i have the cure for your ills (and the savior of your gastrointestinal tract). file this away for next thanksgiving and christmas. it's a crowd-pleaser and a win-win-win in my book. i give you...


i start with martha stewart's pâte brisée recipe. (though you can also start with a great pre-made from your local grocer. i know that lots of you are intimidated by pie crust.)

*note that you can do all of this by hand and, if you prefer, you can cut the recipe in half as that's all you need. i like to make the whole thing and stick the other one in the freezer for quick pot-pies and such.

Makes 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust 9- to 10-inch pies

* 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon sugar
* 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
* 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.
2. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
3. Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.

then there's whole foods' fabulous pumpkin apple pie:

Makes 1 single-crust 9- to 10-inch pie

* 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
* 1 tablespoon cornstarch
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
* 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
* 1/3 cup water
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 2 Granny Smith or Fuji apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
* 1 egg
* 1/3 cup granulated sugar
* 3/4 cup fresh or canned pumpkin purée
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
* 3/4 cup evaporated milk
* 1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell (in pie pan) - OR the crust you made above

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Put brown sugar, cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, water and butter into a medium pot and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Add apples and cook, tossing to coat in sugar mixture, 3 to 4 minutes more. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together egg, granulated sugar, pumpkin, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, cloves, ginger and milk until well combined.
3. Pour apple mixture into pie shell then spoon pumpkin mixture evenly over the top. Bake for 10 minutes then reduce temperature to 375°F and bake until filling is just set in the middle, about 40 minutes more. Set aside on a wire rack to let cool completely then cut into slices.

and my special pecan topping:

* 3 tablespoons butter
* 1/2 cup light-brown sugar
* 1 cup pecans, toasted and broken into pieces
* 1 tablespoon heavy cream

1. melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan.
2. add 1/2 cup light-brown sugar and pecans. cook, stirring, until sugar is incorporated and the mixture is smooth, about 3 minutes.
3. stir in cream; let cool 1 to 2 minutes.
4. pour mixture over cooled pie. using a butter knife or spatula, gently spread mixture over pie.
5. cool until topping has hardened, about 30 minutes. (do not refrigerate before serving; keep pie in a cool place up to 6 hours. okay to refrigerate after serving, though the topping will go "cloudy".)

and the *NOM NOM NOM* whipped cream (just before serving)!

* heavy whipping cream
* brown sugar
* your favorite bourbon
* cinnamon

1. add whipped cream to a bowl. sprinkle in sugar and cinnamon to taste.
2. add a tablespoon of bourbon (can't add too much as it will make it impossible to whip to the proper consistency).
3. beat it like a maniac until stiff peaks form.

happy eatin'!

14 October 2010

dog days of summer.

dear readers,

i can't believe it's been so long since i've updated my little blog!

i know you are all AVID readers of fog city sparkle (ha! that was funny!) so i do hereby swear to begin updating this more regularly again - espcially with summer waning here in san francisco.

indian summer in san francisco: this morning's sunrise from my stoop

[tip for non-sf readers: always plan to visit our fair city in september and early october to get the very best weather. we don't have perpetual summer like they did on 90210 (the real one - not this silly remake filled with walking, talking twigs).]

so, what have i been up to on the home front? not too much that is of interest to you probably. we are working on converting our building from tics to condos and, with sf's myriad ridiculous laws, it is enough to make you bonkers. so our house fixes of late have all been of the "bring this up to code" variety - and not the "ooh, look at this amazing fabric i have to do something with it" kind.

however, i have some ideas percolating (and some new silk curtains to make), so it's time to get to work - and get to posting!

in the short term, here's something fun: my first (and only) tomato of the season!

it's finally been hot enough to ripen the two tomatoes that have been on the vine for months. one get eaten overnight but i managed to pick this one (a black cherry heirloom) this morning. huzzah!

okay - be back soon with some good stuff for you!
jen x

27 July 2010

the answer to a never ending story?

i've been thinking a lot about the dining room of late and decided to put together a (remedial) storyboard to represent how i'd like for it to come together -- though some existing pieces weren't included.

some of these items are on my wish list, most notably the aqua leather wingbacks. we'll just have to wait and see if i can snag some of this stuff on sale...

so, here we go with the list, from left-to-right by row:
  1. "stormy monday" paint by benjamin moore.
  2. poster-sized prints of two photos i took in iceland a few months ago
  3. those crazy mirrors i just finished!
  4. a black glass chandelier... or white... or clear... what do you think?
  5. a mix of thonet chairs, which i am in the process of collecting, refinished in black
  6. my duncan phyfe table that i FINALLY refinished. maybe adding a high-gloss black leaf so allow for more seats and to modernize the look
  7. OMG a pair of these amazing wingbacks that i found at zgallerie. the photos don't come even close to doing them justice. i DIE when i look at them. perfect for unbuttoning your pants and relaxing.
  8. a great graphic rug, like this one from anthro. diamond jungle dhurrie just sounds fun!
  9. high gloss black doors with white casings
and not in the storyboard but definitely included:
  • my grandmother's favorite side table - antique, round, leather topped. my dad's only request to keep when she passed. he thought it would be perfect for my little victorian home. i'd pair it with the wingbacks and place them in the bay window.
  • an antique armoire from my dad. when they went mid-century with their house, i scored this hand-me-down. perfect for storing bar essentials.
  • black and white patterned curtains with some fun detail. i'm on the hunt for fabric. got any suggestions?
  • voile sheers to diffuse the light (and for privacy since the dining room is at the front of the house and on street level)
  • fun tchotchkes in bright colors - because i am a magpie collecting shiny things, as you all know
are you scared? excited? what would you add or change?

26 July 2010

if.. you... asked me to...

well, YOU DID if your name is sandra, elaine or kelly.

no real post today, just a quick update on the mirrors for the dining room. some of you may recall that i was playing with a few ideas for the finish (and blogged about it here).

so many friends liked the multi-colored graffiti look that i decided, "what the heck? we're only young once!" so here you go...

ignore the styrofoam up top - just testing different angles for the mirrors to hang at...

if you're curious:
- mirrors were a sale item at pier one
- used the following paints: rust-oleum in "white gloss" and "black gloss" and krylon x-metals in "anodized purple"

22 July 2010

to thonet or not to thonet - that is the question.

er... well... really it's more of a degree-of-thonet question.

i'm finally getting my bum into gear on the dining room but i'm stuck again on chairs. i LOVELOVELOVE thonet chairs (yessireebob, i even picked up a couple this weekend) and was thinking i could surround the table with a variety of the cafe-style chairs...

à la these examples:

cafe des amis, san francisco

or if i should mix things up and scavenge for a variety of "significant" chair styles, like these rooms do.

sjp's hamptons house via elle decor

honestly, i am LOVING both options. what do YOU think?

19 July 2010

i'll tell ya what i want. what i really, really want...

my favorite find of the day: a 1950s china girl bobblehead. she looks like me!

somedays all a girl wants is a nice day in the sun, all to herself. a day filled with shopping, hand-cut french fries, driving too fast on sun-dappled winding roads through ancient redwoods, and a good book on the beach.

well, that's how i spent my saturday and it was GLORIOUS.

i hopped in the car and headed over the golden gate bridge (for those of you not from here, no, i never do get tired of seeing it!) and up towards sonoma.

first stop was vintage bank antiques in petaluma, an old gold mine boom town. this place is AMAZING. a decomissioned bank filled with antiques top-to-toe. you can even walk through the old vaults.

i could have spent hours here, but i was itching to head a bit further north on the gravenstein highway (yup, we gots the apples!) to sebastopol, another ag and gold mine boom town just a few miles up the road.

first stop is always llano house. it's beautiful little cottage and barn filled with depression glass treasures and great vintage chairs.
no luck for me though so i headed to my favorite, ray's trading and salvage.
ray's is filled to the brim with vintage cast iron goodies and salvaged doors (which i plan to acquire a dozen of when i am ready to restore all of the doorways in my house). in his yard i found these lovelies, which came home with me.
click the photo to look closer - don't you love the *mustachioed lions' heads* in the centers?!

they will soon become a loveseat-sized park bench in my backyard - for lovers (in the victorian sense - get your mind out of the gutter!) to canoodle on when we have backyard parties.

with that success under my belt, i happily headed to fft and found a pair of these! *swoon*

if you've seen photos of the house exterior, you know it is DROP DEAD GORGEOUS. however, someone did a runner with our original doors. i'm thinking this pair might be the perfect replacement. what do you think?

then i headed to the big-daddy of sebastopol antiques, the antique society. i got lucky again and found a pair of embossed thonet-style chairs...
a great bottle opener to mount to the wall in the backyard...
well, this just about sums my style up in one picture, doesn't it?!

and a pretty little gilded bud vase for the guest room.
after all of that, i was famished and hit sequoia burger, a little mom-and-pop burger stand, for one of my all-time favorite burgers (and a SMALL side of their hand-cut cajuns).
fortified, i hit the bohemian highway (yes, that name is FOR REAL)...
and ended up here...
on the beach in monte rio. and i (finally) read water for elephants, cover-to-cover.
it was a GREAT day. just what i wanted.

15 July 2010

i'm on a boat!

okay, i'm not (but who doesn't love an excuse to watch this video), but I AM on brooklyn limestone!
the lovely stefanie, keeper of one of my most favorite-ist blogs, allowed me to guest post today while she's on vacation. it's still a thrill to see my rooms on her massively popular blog (the times even named her one of their top 50 design blogs)!

jump on over and leave a comment so she'll have me back soon!

14 July 2010

thanks to emily!

the fabulous miss emily of emily a. clark hosted her monthly reader participation post a week ago today and i was lucky enough to be included.

this month's subject? entry halls and foyers.

some of you may have already seen my before and after shots in the "paint it black" post - click here if you haven't!

13 July 2010

i ain't sayin' she a gold digger...

well, due to laziness and because it seems it's impossible to book a contractor, i have made very little headway in the dining room. for months it has been a glorified storage locker-slash-project room and it is all so very sad.

well, while i can't empty it out until i find a contractor WHO RETURNS CALLS to fix up the basement, i can still plan for the day when i can decorate and entertain in there... (please, god, let that be SOON!)

the room is large, with our very high ceilings, so i've been looking for some high-impact items to fill the space. one thing that was absolutely necessary was to add at least one mirror - i love the way they reflect the candlelight during a long dinner party with friends - but it would have to be BIG.

i searched and searched antiques fairs, consignment and antique shops, craigslist, ebay, but i just could not find what i wanted. then, one day, at pier one i spotted this one. the finish is truly HIDEOUS but it is over 4 feet tall and has great bones.

close up of the original finish... yuck.

so i tried high-gloss black...

and high-gloss white...

and a fuschia metallic paint.

it's kind of a mess, but sort of fun too!

but i think i'm back to my original inspiration, so i have ordered some gold lustrgild paint in the hopes of creating something more like this:

so hopefully, sometime next week, these two lovelies will be finished and hung and i can finally say i have made some kind of progress in here!

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