27 January 2010

come sail away, come sail away...

come SAIL AWAY WITH ME! (to slumbertown, that is!)

so, finally, the big reveal! after months of teasers, my master bedroom is finally "done enough" to share. (*w00t!*)

to remind you, here's what we started with:

so, i searched and searched for a photo with a better angle, but this was the best i could find (see more "befores" here). like the rest of the house, the master bedroom was dingy and painted in a color best described as "resembling the contents of a baby's diaper". it was also carpeted and covered in stains. this hid 8-10 layers of paint and (miraculously) the original floors.

first we got down to painting (and painting, painting, painting). for this room, i chose "solana beach" from ace hardware - a gorgeous grey-blue. my tastes tend more toward the wild, but i wanted my bedrooms to feel relaxed and serene.

after the painting was done, minus all of the touch ups (will. they. ever. end?!), we could remove the carpets (or "built in drop-cloths" as i liked to refer to them) and restore the floors. here's what we got - yay! wide-plank, old-growth pine i think. *SWOON* (sorry for the bad photo quality - i took it with my phone and was VERY, VERY tired at this point.)

more on that process here and here if you're curious. (including fun photos of the "lee press-on" nails and sunflower seeds we found, *gag*.)

and, now, TA-DA! here it is!

the bed (ikea), like in my guest bedroom, is outfitted almost exclusively in white. i like to feel like i'm jumping into a cloud, whether it's bed time or daytime nap time (which happens much more frequently than i should really admit).

i added the silver throw from west elm for a bit of shine (i'm a TOTAL MAGPIE and collect as many sparkly things as i can) and used various white patterned sheets for texture.

and for height and a bit of glamour, i made silk curtains to match the walls. i think it makes the room look almost like it's floating - in a good way! (and here's the 10-step tutorial if you'd like to make some for yourself.)

the nightstands were my grandmother's. i toyed with the idea of painting them but, in the end, i like how they ground the room and bring the floor color up to eye-level. just need to find the right lamp(s) to add. maybe this one?

my dressers are both from ikea. i loved the soft grey finish and the curvy legs. hated the pulls they supplied, so i trotted down to anthro and picked up some "diamond gal" knobs to finish them. love that they manage to look both luxe and organic at the same time. and i placed my grandmother's sewing machine (cleverly disguised as a side table) next to the low one for extra table-top real estate. it makes me smile.

and, because i love color, i painted the insides of my closet doors in "hot lips" (or something like that). you can check out more on project doorway here.

finally, i added all of my favorite jewelry, one great piece of artwork that i picked up at auction...

and that notorious (and polarizing) ship chandelier from zgallerie.

like you've undoubtedly guessed, i love quirky things and wanted one piece that really SAYS SOMETHING in this bedroom. i think this one says it well. come on and sing along...

26 January 2010

t-minus 2 days!

my baby!

well, i've been promising to unveil my master bedroom for months now. you've listened, patiently, to my litany of excuses - but the hour is ALMOST upon us!

so, yes, i am one of those insane fools that purchased the much-blogged-about ship chandelier. it has been languishing in a corner in my bedroom for ages, giving me the sad-eyes the entire time.

*skies open up* well, i have finally found a new contractor (that i hope will not disappoint me like the last) and he's scheduled to hang this lovely ship in my master bedroom on thursday afternoon (while i slave over 200 cupcakes for my dear friends', sandra and john, wedding on friday).

and, yes, i know that it's simple to hang a light fixture but i am REALLY VERY klutzy. so, if it involves potential electrocution, i say "pass, thanks!"

while he's at it, he'll also hang this beauty (the gold one, not the kit-cat) in my office, though i still have a LOT to do in there, so that reveal will take some time...

are you excited? i'm excited! like, head about to explode excited - seriously! OR "omg! martha's being released from jail and i can finally worship my domesticity goddess again" excited!

25 January 2010

tips from me (ha!)

get inspired!

my first piece of advice is to ignore my advice.

however, several folks have asked me recently for help with decorating and design and, in the process, have also requested some tips.

so, i grabbed a glass of scotch (ladies, trust me, whisky is a good thing!) and thought about it for a few minutes. and, *voilà*, here's what i have to say on the subject for those of you who care.
  1. keep a folder for inspiration - seriously, blog it, create a tumblr account, cut stuff out of magazines, keep an inspiration board. the #1 problem i see when people start to decorate is that they have NO IDEA what they actually like. when they start to save images that they love though, they start to understand what (visually) makes a happy home for them. without this, you're sort of dead in the water (and likely to end up with a lot of matchy-matchy pottery barn mess. *blech*)
  2. MORE is more! - this is a personal tip if you happen to like my style. i don't like clutter, but i do love being surrounded by color, texture, collections that make me happy. so don't be afraid to do anything over the top - it's easy to fix and, more likely than that, you'll love the result!
  3. be fearless - mix & mis-match! - every big box store has some awesome pieces that would work well in your home and with your style. just don't buy the whole ensemble, okay? remember that "friends" episode? phoebe may have come around in the end, but she was right at the start. do you really want your friends to walk into you house and say, "ooh - pottery barn."? didn't think so.
  4. trendy AND timeless works - a lot of folks will say that you should concentrate on quality/ timeless pieces when you decorate your home. and that's it. i only agree half-way. i think it's GREAT to invest in some quality items that you love - from furniture to artwork to jewelry to wardrobe - but not at the expense of indulging in trends if you like them. think of your home like you do your wardrobe - it evolves, you hold onto classics, you introduce cheap baubles from forever 21, and pick up hip new pieces that you'll trash next season. have fun!
  5. use color - i don't believe in feng shui, per se, but i do believe that having a full spectrum of color in your home makes it a happier place. look for ways to incorporate pops of color - even if you lean towards the more serene (see my "project doorway", for example). and if you're into color, just go for it!
  6. do it yourself! - can't afford it? then learn to do it yourself! really, you can do or make just about anything you set your mind to!
  7. keep your treasures and share them - all of those beautiful pieces that have been handed down to you over the years, artwork that you've collected, jewelry that you love. all can be displayed and make you home look like "you".
  8. impulse the small stuff - see something you love that doesn't bust your budget? buy it and bring it home! some of the things i love most in my home were impulse buys. witness my kit cat clock and the most beautiful lamp in the world

    even gwen stefani keeps track of her inspirations.

  9. wait on the big stuff - don't buy something just because you need to fill a space, it can wait. big pieces, like sideboards, dining tables and the like, make a huge style impact in your home. it's okay to make due with what you have until you find something you love-love-can't-live-without.
  10. collect when you travel - not, like, "my boyfriend went to machu picchu and all i got was this stupid t-shirt" kind of collecting. pick up hand made pieces, artwork, textiles that will remind you of where you've been. they are conversation pieces and will take you away on mental holidays when you look at them.
  11. hit the big box stores - i might not be a fan of "whole house from the summer'08" catalogue symptom, but i do think that the big chains all have big-ticket items that you can mix into your decor. i, personally, am a big fan of ikea for just this reason. their designers are doing some great things!
  12. but also resist the big box stores - get personal with your "accessories". indulge in the big pieces, but get the small stuff elsewhere - like small, local shops, salvage yards, antiques fairs. your home will have much more personality that way. it should be a reflection of you
  13. become an artiste! - frame your own work. took some amazing photos on your last holiday? blow 'em up to poster size and frame them! find a piece of art that you love that's too spendy? buy a canvas and make a copy-cat version! you can do it!
  14. outside in - flowers & plants really add color, texture and life (literally!) to a home. shop your local farmers' markets and plant supply stores, (or even your own backyard). your eyes and lungs will love you for it.
  15. BUY WHAT YOU LIKE. - this is an important one. if you love it, buy it. if you're indifferent, set it down and back away slowly. and, if you're thinking about it for days, try to make it happen. there's a 99% chance that it'll work with whatever you have because we each have a very distinct style. so go ahead and buy that glittery purple tissue holder for your bathroom! ;)
okay - so what tips would YOU add to this list?

21 January 2010

christmas in iceland!

me at the blue lagoon. the colors were indescribable!

i know that this blog is supposed to be about the process of renovating and decorating the house, but i still thought it relevant to include a post about my trip to iceland last month. after all, each place that we go leaves an indelible impression upon us and changes us - which ultimately influences how we live. for me iceland was about the colors, the simple and modern interiors, and all of the fabulous art.

street art in reykjavik. i heart graffiti.

some of you will undoubtedly ask "WHY ICELAND? and why iceland in the MIDDLE OF WINTER?!" well, it's simple really. my grandmother was from a small town in the north of iceland, akureyri (note: this is the 2nd largest city in the country at 17 thousand people. a HUGE portion of the population, 200k+ out of 300, lives in reykjavik).

my grandfather met her when he was stationed in iceland during WWII - and she broke off her engagement with some poor local boy to run off to the u.s. and marry this tall, handsome american boy.

the frds of akureyri, where my grandmother was from.

akureyri architecture - surprisingly like home!

i'd never visited but my dad and i had talked about it for years as he had not been either. and so, when he saw a great deal in one of his travel newsletters, we leapt at the chance. and i then got in touch with my family there (not hard since we are actually in almost daily contact despite the fact that we'd never visited) and made plans to meet them all.

we flew in for a very short trip - just 6 days because i have taken so much time off this year to deal with the house, and had a fantastic time.

perpetual dusk in the wintertime - great since it's my favorite time of day!

iceland LOVES christmas.

meeting my family was a memory i will treasure forever. i was the only non blue-eyed person there (my mother is from taiwan, my father met her when he was stationed there during the vietnam war), but i felt like i fit right in. i saw my freckles, i heard my laugh, and felt my grandmother's spirit in them all.

my family (and me looking, and feeling, like a drowned rat!)

what struck me, too, wass how big a part of the culture art, in all its forms, is with icelanders. from food to sculpture to street art to fashion - iceland is at the cutting edge of it all. you can't walk through reykjavik, in particular, without noticing.

SWOON! local fashion is gorgeous (and expensive- these were over $600 u.s.)!

bronze statues in reykjavik's town center.

tasted as good as it looked!

there's so much to see in iceland and the people are so warm and lovely - there's no doubt that i will return.

enjoying our favorite pastime.

one too many for dad?

i hope you've enjoyed "getting away from it all" with me, even for a few minutes! i've kept this VERY brief, but will write more if you all seem interested - it's a fascinating place.

jen x

p.s. more photos here for those of you who are interested and more on the way...

me and dad at gullfoss.

20 January 2010

i can see clearly now...

the view from my home office tonight. click to enlarge.
(that's city hall on the right.)

i've just returned home from a very quick trip (30 or so hours) to chicago and somehow managed to miss the first couple of storms of this predicted el niño season.

sounds like they were whoppers, but now the air is cool and crisp and the skies are streaked with the color of dusk and a few remaining gray clouds - such a lovely sight!

sometimes dealing with this beautiful old house feels like more trouble than i bargained for - but coming home to it, even after a short trip, and taking in this view reminds me of how very lucky i am and how much i really, really love it.

so, enjoy the view and a song with me tonight - won't you?

13 January 2010

dining room inspiration.

well, i painted the dining room and it was a big ol' bust. the color sample was lovely and gray and the real life color made the room look like a giant baby's nursery. maybe someday but, for now, *do not RUSH me*.

sorry, i'm used to saying that to my parents these days.

anywhoo... it's time to start again and i think that i'm going to go for a warmer, brownish gray (i was playing with peacock blue, but that might be too dark against the black entryway). ceiling to floor. including moldings. *gasp*

i want the room to feel cozy and a bit european, hence the paint on all of the trim and below the chair rail. i'd like for people to linger and feel at home.

here are a couple of images that are inspiring me:

i've seen this on a few blogs, but not sure of the original publication. i love how the antique wood and gilt mirrors bring out the warm tones in the paint and curtains. it's all so chic and serene.

i think this will work well with my antique pieces - a phyfe-style table that i rescued long ago, a pretty, leather-topped side table from my grandmother's house, and a beautiful mahogany armoire that my dad gave me when he moved from a lovely old craftsman to more mid-century inspired digs.

i'm thinking cream silk curtains with paillettes or tiny mirrors scattered about for a bit of sparkle when the candles are burning low.

and this GORGEOUS thanksgiving tablescape, which i copied yesterday and am so scatter-brained that i cannot for the life of me remember what blogger is responsible! (if it's you, please comment so i can give you due credit!).

again, the colors are soft but warm -- and the feathers add that bit of whimsy that i like (actually need) to incorporate into all of my rooms. and, i think i can also use the feathers to bring some of the colors of the rug i've been holding on to for years (it's actually a bit warmer in tone than the photo suggests).

what do you think? any suggestions for chairs with this scheme. i want to stray from "traditional" because all of the major pieces already are.

oh, and when i'm done, we can all have dinner together and make like the little guys below.

(sorry, couldn't resist. it's one of my favorites of all time.)

12 January 2010

welcome! welcome!

it looks, from my reports, that i have picked up quite a few new readers (thank you!) in the past few weeks, so i thought it might be a good time to reintroduce myself and this project...

i'm a girl lucky enough to live in this lovely place we sometimes call "fog city". i spent many weekends here as a little girl and moved here immediately after college. a decade has now passed and i'd decided it was time to find a place to call my very own.

coincidentally, one of my good friends, gina, had started looking as well. we decided to visit some open houses together - and soon were both feeling a bit discouraged about what we'd each be able to buy for our money (studio or one bedroom, under 1000 square feet).

so... one fine day i said, "hey, what do you think about looking at some 2-unit buildings together? we might get a bit more for our money." and, because she's game for just about anything (and is just crazy enough to trust me!), she immediately said "let's do it!"

we started looking at historic fixer-uppers right away and eventually one of our offers was accepted (competition is still fierce here out west).

our new home is a 1880s italianate victorian in the heart of san francisco. while most multi-family homes here were built as flats for multi-generational families, ours was built like the townhouses and row homes you typically see on the east coast. this means that we each have our very own 2-story home, complete with private basement and yard. it could not be more perfect!

what isn't so great is that both houses were, at some point, completely gutted by someone who likely was interested in modernizing. all of the original detail - crown moldings, chair rails, picture rails, baseboards, hardwood floors, and doors - are gone. most have been replaced recently with cheap, and historically inaccurate, stock versions from home depot.

miraculously, the facade is beautiful and well-preserved and they didn't seem to have the energy to remove the original marble fireplaces (HUZZAH!).

so, over time, we will slowly restore her to her former glory - or what we imagine it to have been. prior to the move, i had lived for about 10 years in a stunning late 1800s victorian mansion, converted to apartments, so i will be using the architectural details there as my guide.

here is what i started with (gina's is a mirror image and i've posted some of her progress under the label "project g"):

(top row, l-r) entrance, downstairs hallway, formal dining room, living room
(2nd row, l-r) downstairs (illegal) bathroom, kitchen, view of city hall from kitchen, upstairs hallway
(3rd row, l-r) master bedroom, master - 2 closets. w00t!, view from master (you can see the bay!), guest bedroom
(4th row, l-r) upstairs bathroom, office, view from office, backyard
(last row, l-r) backyard, backyard entrance to basement, basement

you'll note that the entire interior, including all closet interiors and some of the ceiling (!), were bathed in a lovely, baby-poopy yellow. the carpets, which these photos do not do justice to, were covered - COVERED - in disgusting stains. these, i assume, courtesy of the three college kids who were renting the place before it was sold. so let's just pretend they are all pabst blue ribbon, or natural ice from the keg, and not something far more sinister.

so we got to painting, stripping & sanding, shopping, shopping, and more shopping. and now i have a fab backyard for parties, a finished guest bedroom, a dramatic entry hall, a lovely place for a christmas tree, and some rooms that need some finishing touches.

i'll be sharing all of my progress here. i hope you'll stay with me to offer ideas, comments and encouragement.

thank you for stopping by! y'all come back now, ya hear?!

jen x

08 January 2010

just for fun: top 10 search terms for fog city spakle.

just for giggles, here are my favorite search terms that sent you guys & gals to my blog this year.
  1. sparkle damn you sparkle - i love this one for obvious reasons. probably some poor twilighter that ended up in the wrong place, but now i want to say this to everything in my home and wardrobe! (and maybe to my friends.) "good morning, new dress. sparkle, damn you, sparkle!"
  2. "lovely home" blogspot - why, thank you! *blush* i'm flattered that you think so too!
  3. do you know what you gotta do 2009 - i know what i gotta do, but do you?
  4. my colors my honor - well, i'm pretty sure that ice-t would be bummed if he knew that, for a short time, i was the top result on google with this one! but i'm down!
  5. prettiest lamp in the world - it really might be!
  6. severe sleep deprivation - well, if this doesn't appropriately describe home renovation, i don't know what else does...
  7. what comes before part b - guess you ALL know where the party's at now. whoop, whoop!
  8. damn you ikea - haha. pretty self explanatory!
  9. hank williams jr family tradition blogspot - another surprise, but i do love this song!
  10. which areas in the u.s. have little fog - um, hmmm, you'd be barking up the WRONG TREE with this one. sorry!
and, apparently, i am now the interwebs' resource for all things sparkly. here are a few more that, as a group, made me laugh out loud:
  • sparkly lazy susan
  • how to paint a sparkled ceiling
  • sparkly couches
  • sparkly curtains
  • sparkly refrigerator magnets- fair enough, i did make these.
keep searchin'!
jen x

07 January 2010

you asked for 'em!

last night i hosted my annual girls' holiday party and gift exchange (yes, it's always in january - easier not to deal with all of the december conflicts and it's so nice to have one last party to wrap up the season).

i look forward to this party every year because i get to spend time catching up with so many wonderful ladies and, well, because i love a party. we spend hours gossiping about boys, jobs, engagements, babies (this is a relatively new development for us!), and have an increasingly wild gift exchange - all presents must come from good vibrations or some place similar.

i hear that there are LOTS of happy ladies, hubbies and boyfriends every year when the girls get home!

another tradition is that, every single year, i serve up my favorite mac 'n' cheese. this year i had SO MANY requests for the recipe that i thought i'd share.

cupcake and frosting recipes below as well!
Jen's Bacon Mac 'n' Cheese (loosely based on Martha Stewart's Favorite Macaroni and Cheese recipe, but modified and simplified over the years)
Serves 12. (but i made 3 full recipes for you girls!)

* roughly 5-6 cups grated cheese. (This can really be any kind you want - including blue, brie or goat - though I'd recommend that at least half is a sharp white Cheddar or Gruyère. For the party, I used white Cheddar, Swiss, Jarlsberg, Gruyère, Jack, and Parmesan - basically anything that was already in the house!)
* 1/2 pound (minimum) good smoked bacon, cooked and chopped into small pieces
**NOTE: save your bacon-fat as you fry and set aside!
* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 5 cups milk
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
* 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
* 1 pound elbow macaroni (small)
* 1/2 to 1 cup Japanese panko flakes (you can buy 6 oz. bags by Wel-Pac at Safeway in the Asian Foods section)

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons of reserved bacon fat in medium to large pot. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, whisking, 1 minute or until brown and pasty.
3. While whisking, slowly pour in hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
4. Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, black pepper, chili powder and 3-4 cups cheese. Set cheese sauce aside.
5. Fill a large saucepan with water; bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 minutes less than manufacturer's directions, until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
6. In a small bowl, melt 2 tablespoons reserved bacon fat (or butter if you're running low) in the microwave. Add panko and toss. Set aside.
7. Pour half of macaroni and cheese mixture into a large baking dish. Cover with bacon. Pour remaining half over bacon.
8. Sprinkle remaining cheese, and panko, over top. Bake until browned on top, about 30-45 minutes. Cool 5 minutes; serve hot.

by far, the most popular gift of the night. who knew?!

Devil's Food Cupcakes (based on Michael Recchiuti's Devil’s Food Hearts recipe.)
Serves 24.

* 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
* 2/3 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 cup strong coffee (I like Peet's French Roast), brewed and cooled
* 1/2 cup flavorless vegetable oil
* 1 cup whole milk
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, preferably Madagascar Bourbon
* 2 cup granulated cane sugar
* 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.
2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together into a bowl. Stir the baking soda into the coffee in another bowl and then stir in the oil, milk and pure vanilla extract.
3. Combine the sugar and egg in a medium bowl and whisk together by hand. Whisk in the flour mixture in 2 additions, alternately with the coffee mixture in 1 addition.
4. Pour the batter, 1/4 cup per cupcake, into tins.
5. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Cakes hsould be moist to the touch and slightly springy. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Golden Cake Recipe, courtesy of Valerie
Serves 24.

* 1 3/4 cups spooned and leveled cake flour (no substitute - must be cake flour)
* 1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 1/3 c water
* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
* 2 teaspoons vanilla
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/3 cup canola oil
* 3 large egg yolks
* 2 large eggs
* 1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.
2. Beat flour and baking powder for a full 30 seconds at medium speed on the mixer, then pour the flour mixture into a large bowl and set aside. Don't wash the mixer bowl.
3. Add the sugar to the bowl and place back on mixer.
4. Heat water in microwave or on stove, and add to mixer bowl. Beat a few seconds to dissolve the sugar, then beat in butter, vanilla and salt. Add oil and mix on medium to blend.
5. Sprinkle 1/3 of flour mixture over sugar mixture. Blend on low with a minimum amount of beating. Continue adding flour until incorporated.
6. By hand, stir in yolks one at a time. Then stir in whole eggs one at a time.
7. Place a bowl, beaters, and heavy cream in freezer for 5 minutes. Whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Whip just a little beyond this. Stir 1/4 of whipped cream into the batter to lighten, then gently fold the rest of the whipped cream into batter.
8. Pour batter, 1/4 cup per cupcake, into tins. (Drop from 4" or so to knock out bubbles.) Bake until center springs back when touched or toothpick is clean. My cupcakes took about 15 minutes. Let cake cool for about 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Browned-Butter Frosting, courtesy of Land O' Lakes
Serves 24.

* 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 3 cups powdered sugar
* 12 teaspoons vanilla
* 3 to 4 tablespoons whole milk or cream - or as needed
* salt to taste (maybe a pinch or two)

1. Melt 6 tablespoons butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking, stirring constantly and watching closely, until butter starts to turn golden (4 to 6 minutes). (Butter will get foamy and bubble.) Remove from heat. Cool completely (and don't worry about the browned bits, they're tasty).
2. Combine browned butter, powdered sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl. Beat at medium speed, gradually adding enough milk for desired spreading (or eating!) consistency.

HAPPY BAKING! and, oh yeah...

courtesy of one of last night's guests

05 January 2010

best holiday pie recipe EVER EVER EVER.

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'!

03 January 2010

curious and curiouser.

i love a good oddity. and i heart a great curiousity. to that end, i have enlisted some of my best friends to make the occasional trip to antiques fairs, auctions and the fantastic shops here in san francisco to scavenge with me.

i haven't posted on these trips lately, so here are a few of my recent treasures. fun, huh?

early 1900s chandelier for the entryway, found hanging in a local barn. needs a good scrub first.

vintage kit cat clock with rhinestones. sadly his tail is missing, but he looks great on the mantle.

ezra brooks kentucky bourbon bottle from the late 1960s. a great little ode to my hometown.

this is so awesome. the color makes me feel all *squeeeee* inside.

a lovely clock for the guest room. the rosy copper color is so fab.

i just thought that this was beautiful.

a vintage french ash tray for friends who like to light up.

white glass bud vases (for 75 cents each!). great as candlesticks.

a chunk of amethyst - my birthshone and, apparently, a cure for drunkenness.

a gorgeous vintage shift in sparkly champagne - only 7 bucks!

and a stunning calathea from my new favorite store, paxton gate. words cannot do justice to how weird and wonderful this place is - just take a look at these photos!

hope you're feeling as inspired as i am by these fun little items. now get out there and find some of your own!

here are some of my favorite places, in case you'd like to check them out for yourself...

valencia corridor:

Neighborhood: Mission
311 Valencia Street (at 14th St)

Accident & Artifact
Neighborhood: Mission
381 Valencia St (at 15th St)

Neighborhood: Mission
393 Valencia St (at 15th St)

Neighborhood: Mission
572 Valencia St (between 16th St & 17th St)

Harrington Galleries
Neighborhood: Mission
599 Valencia St (between 16th St & 17th St)

The Apartment
Neighborhood: Mission
3469 18th St (between Lexington St & Valencia St)

Paxton Gate
Neighborhood: Mission
824 Valencia St (between 19th St & Cunningham Pl)

The Curiosity Shoppe
Neighborhood: Mission
855 Valencia St (between 20th St & Cunningham Pl)

X21 Modern - now gone, but you may be able to purchase some of their amazing things on 1stdibs.com
Neighborhood: Mission
890 Valencia St (between 20th St & Cunningham Pl)

Room 4
Neighborhood: Mission
904 Valencia St (between 20th St & Liberty St)

Gypsy Honeymoon
Neighborhood: Mission
3599 24th St (between Guerrero St & San Jose Ave)

Painted Bird
Neighborhood: Mission
1201A Guerrero St (between 24th St & 25th St)
AS OF 1/29: 1360 Valencia Street (btwn 24th and 25th)

other spots around the city:

The Perish Trust
Neighborhood: Western Addition/NOPA
728 Divisadero St (between Fulton St & Grove St)

Mickey's Monkey
Neighborhood: Lower Haight
218 Pierce St (between Haight St & Page St)

Neighborhood: Marina/Cow Hollow
1842 Union St, 2nd Fl (between Laguna St & Octavia St)

Past Perfect
Neighborhood: Marina/Cow Hollow
2230 Union St (between Fillmore St & Steiner St)


San Francisco Antique & Design Mall
701 Bayshore Blvd

up and away! alameda, oakland and sebastopol:

Alameda Point Antiques and Collectibles Faire
Once a month and full of treasures!
Runway 7/25 Alameda Point
Alameda, CA

Clars Estate Auction
Another once-monthly event. Easy to get lucky here. ;)
5644 Telegraph Avenue
Oakland, CA

and there are plenty of others on gravenstein highway but these are my favorites...

Antique Society
Specialty: A HUGE multidealer co-op, everything under the sun!
2661 Gravenstein Highway South
Sebastopol, CA

FFT Antiques
Specialty: Antiques and salvage - and all proceeds go to a wonderful cause.
2701 Gravenstein Highway South
Sebastopol, CA

Ray's Trading Company
Specialty: Antiques, salvage, old tubs, doors, and windows. Fantastic prices.
3570 Gravenstein Highway South
Sebastopol, CA

Llano House
4353 Gravenstein Highway South
Sebastopol, CA

02 January 2010

paint it black.

oh, man, i LOVE this song so much. really, it may be the best song ever written.

i wanted to do something VERY dramatic for the entrance to the house, so here's my ode to this most awesome of songs - i have painted my entryway, and the newel post and banister (though the balustrade remains white), high gloss black (yes, you read that right!). and i painted the door red, which i know mick explicitly warns against but, well, screw it. i like the pop of color.

so sorry, mick!

what we started with... (more puke yellow in this house than you could ever have imagined, right?)
and now!

as you can see, aside from needing a few touch-ups, i'm playing around with possible patterns that i will add in white. i'm leaning towards bare tree branches.

have any brilliant ideas? send 'em my way!
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