May 12, 2017

May Garden Musings


























Ok yard, you need to stop showing off! With all the rain, the yard is on fire with life. Extra blooms on the Azalea bush this year, two times the amount of peaches and plums, which of course we are all excited about in our house, and just over all lushness. The peach tree branches are tall enough this year to dance along the kitchen windows with all it's little treasures, it sure will make picking the top ones easy. It's always such a pleasure to watch the peony show unfold. It starts with the dark pink ones, followed by the lighter pink and finally the white ones. They are so beautiful and large. I never know what to do as far as enjoy them all outside, or bring some in the house. I brought more in this year to enjoy, but for some reason, I'm always sad to cut them. Some of the photos of the peonies I took at dusk, and I think it really shows off their ethereal quality.   I just took a little walk around the house and took some pictures of all the fruit trees, just as a documentation as to when each year they are ripening etc. Hope you don't get too sick of all the flowers and fruit. It's just so magical to see them arrive each year that I cannot help myself.
After I finished my little mini collection, I have come to a bit of a stand still. I made the little baby dress and bloomers for my niece who just had a baby a few weeks ago. I really love making these little dresses, and I think I'm going to make more soon. They are the perfect little dress for little ones I think. I keep spinning my wheels as to the whole baby gift thing I mentioned before. I go back and forth with bibs, bonnets and bloomers. Should I do sets, should I just offer them per piece? I just don't know. Perhaps I'll just dive in and just make up various forms and see where it all goes! I just made a really cute bonnet, but have to get the right shade of ribbons for it so I can list it. All of my favorite fabric shops are through the tunnel as we say out here in the East Bay, so I haven't gotten a chance to source more notions.  Hopefully I will be able to tomorrow, as we will be celebrating Mother's Day on Saturday vs. Sunday this year. Why you ask? Well, both Caitlin and I forgot to ask for that day off! I will be working for 4 hours on that day....boo :( Oh well, Saturday we are going to brunch and maybe a trip into the city to the museum, and hopefully to Britex. I guess it doesn't matter so much about the actual day you celebrate right? Hahaha
Last weekend we went to Caitlin's friend's bridal shower.  Caitlin and Brooke have been friends since 1st grade! They were inseparable in grade school, and Brooke and her mom even came to visit us when we lived in France. Lots of great memories with this little lady, and now we get to see her take a big step in her life. Her wedding is on May 21st, and we can wait!

Ok...... Remember when a few months ago I told you that Nicole was commissioned to do a project for a major motion picture? I can finally tell everyone, as the movie is out this very week! She made a headpiece for a character in the new "King Arthur" movie! The character is "lady in the lake." I think it is the lady that holds the Excaliber sword. It's pretty exciting and of course I'm a proud mom.  The story on how she got the commission is pretty cool as well. She works at a high end fabric shop in London where all the costumers for movies, and theater shop. She was wearing one of her head pieces that she made on one occasion, when the costumer for King Arthur came  in and pointed to her headpiece. She asked Nicole, "Where did you get that?" Proudly she told her she made it. She pulled her aside and arranged a meeting with Nicole to commission a piece for the movie. She also told the manager of the store. "How long do you think you will be able to keep this one?!!" She has also helped choose fabrics for other movies and television shows. Recently the costumer for Star Wars came in. How funny that they would shop for fabric in London. I think I'll go check out the movie next week to see if I can spot her handiwork :)
Well guys, on that note, I'm off to try and get some work done in the studio today. Hope all the mamas out there have a beautiful and relaxing Mothers Day!

April 19, 2017

Easter


















Hope everyone had a happy Easter if you celebrate it. Ours was very nice, and seemed to go at a really nice pace this year. Often times I feel like I'm rushing around trying to get things cooked in a timely manner, but this year didn't feel like that. Caitlin and Cyrous came over in the morning for a late breakfast and then dashed back home to get ready. It gave me a chance to switch out the table decor for dinner and start prepping. I chose a simple menu this year, as it was just us four as usual.  We have a local grocery store that has an incredible meat counter, and I was very happy to see that they offered a half of a leg of lamb. I love lamb for Easter, but end up with too much meat afterwards and there is only so much you can consume in a few days time. We aren't huge red meat eaters, so it often times goes to waste. I love how the half of the leg was only 4 pounds and this time no waste! I used a menu from one of my old "Gourmet" cook books. I sure do miss "Gourmet" magazine.  Anyway, the lamb recipe I used this year was an Italian recipe. The lamb marinaded in garlic, rosemary, anchovies, and olive oil. To accompany the lamb, I made a salsa verde out of parsley, mint, anchovies, oil and vinegar. If I ever make this again, I think I would add a bit more vinegar to the sauce. I roasted six bunches of the cutest baby carrots and mixed them with fennel. Steamed potatoes, and salad with a simple lemon vinaigrette rounded out the menu.  Dessert.....as you can see I posted a lot of pictures of the process of this tart. I found this recipe on Pinterest and thought I'd give it a try. I loved the crust, which was a very light textured shortbread. I want to use it again for other fruit desserts this summer! I'm a seasoned tart builder, so this was not a difficult recipe like others said on Pinterest, just more time consuming with slicing all the rhubarb on the mandolin and then poaching them in sugar water. The weaving was super fun, since I love to do lattice pies, this was very simple for me. The recipe wanted you to weave the rhubarb on parchment, then flip the whole thing on to the tart. I skipped this and did it directly on the tart instead. I could just see myself trying to flip this carefully woven rhubarb, then it get all mangled in the process!! I think it is far easier to do it the way I did. If I make this again, I would take more time to make all the strips more uniform. The filling was frangipane flavored with rum and vanilla extract.
We bought those cute chocolate rabbits pictured from our favorite chocolate maker in St. Helena called "Woodhouse Chocolates" click here to check this place out!  We ordered two little lady bunnies and two little gentleman bunnies, and Fed Ex guys literally dropped the order on my front door step, shattering them all!  Woodhouse over nighted more to us and luckily those made it intact. They are so good. Of course we still got to keep the broken ones, and we have been munching on those first hahaha.
The top photo with the embroidery bunny is going to be a bib. I decided though that I will not offer this in the shop. The appliqué is a bit too time consuming to produce. I will however embroider the actual bunny onto the bib instead. I love the shape of these little vintage bibs, so I decided I will test out the embroidery only version very soon. I'll be working on some little bonnets and bloomers for babies next. I really want to offer layette type of gifts and I'm still in the process of what I want to include in the set.
Our yard is bursting in blooms and bugs, and bees! The air feels heavy with pollen and floral perfumes. I love it, but the allergy medicine is definitely a must! The peonies are ready to bloom soon, so get ready for flower spam!

Happy spring everyone :)

April 5, 2017

Catch Up Time Again!


























Hi there! Completely skipped March and there was a lot to blog about even. "Bouquet's to Art," Caitlin's birthday, and I completed my mini collection.
Flowers abound these days. From the museum to my yard! The magnolia tree bloomed outside of the guest room and it is always such a treat to see the blooms unfold. Such a beautiful shade of purple against the dark blue sky. I hadn't been to the "Bouquet's to Art" in a long time, so we thought we would check it out this year. I had mixed feelings about some of the arrangements. Some years are better than others I suppose. I like to look back in my archives and look at what they have done over the years with the same paintings. The ones above were some of my favorites, and I apologize for the lighting on some of them. It was hard to photograph sometimes, since there are hoards of people surrounding each arrangement.
Caitlin turned 27! Of course, many flowers were the central theme of the day :). The pictures uploaded oddly,  sorry about that. The very first picture is a gift that I gave Caitlin of her pressed wedding flowers in a glass frame. The flowers had been hiding out in some books in my basement since the wedding, so I thought I'd put them together for her. I think it turned out really pretty! We went to see "Beauty and the Beast" for Caitlin's birthday, and it was so fun. The movie reminded me of how much Caitlin adored that story. I remember Nicole's movie was  "Little Mermaid," and Caitlin was  "Beauty and the Beast." This new film really did the cartoon justice in live action! I could easily see it again. Caitlin chose Dona Tomas for dinner, which is a family favorite. I made a classic yellow birthday cake with fudge frosting this year. It was a first, since Caitlin always requests her infamous chocolate cake.
Today I finally listed all the pieces I have been working on for the past month or so. Each piece holds a special place in my heart. I think my favorite is the white pinafore. I really worked hard on that one! The binding around those heart pockets were very tricky! I typically go for shades of pinks and purples in my pieces, but I felt like some crisp whites, reds and blues this time. Next up will be some baby items. I have a fun little project I can't wait to start on. Of course, throughout now and summer I will still add more pieces, but I really had fun putting a whole "look" together to start out the season this year.

I can't believe Easter is so close! I'm starting to put a menu together for dinner and decor for my table, which is my favorite part. All of the flowers outside my windows are the biggest inspiration for decor. Even though my allergies are not happy with all of those pretty blooms, I still love this time of year at this house. One of my favorite views right now is outside my kitchen window over the sink. I can't properly capture the beauty, but you can see a little bit in one of the pictures above. I only wish that the blooms would stay like they are right now, year around! The neighbor's apple tree combined with the viburnum bush is just heavenly.
On that note, I'll close for now. Next post I'll show you a sneak peak of my new project.