Sunday, February 22, 2009

Give me rest

Not long ago, I completed a beautiful guest room project. I must say that I did love the room prior to the transformation as well, so it was a bit difficult to put that one to rest! Prior to reinventing the room into this quiet, peaceful retreat, it was Julie's son's room, which we had not long ago designed in jalapeno and gray. Very cool! (The walls were jalapeno)! Yes! But I'm happy to say that I love the outcome of the favorite colors, crisp linen and favorite accents.

The inspiration for the room came from the soothing color. It is in my favorite family of late, SW Quietude, a beautiful grayed blue that begs one to come in and never leave! One of our goals was to complete the room without breaking the bank, yet remake it from scratch with purposeful design, and, I might add, with a complete attitude change!

We painted the walls (or I should say, Julie painted)! This linen headboard it a favorite of mine. It makes a great statement-a bit of an urban flair,clean and simple,yet timeless. Julie found the basic bedding and we added the black accents in linen and oatmeal. Part of our direction was made when we decided to find a home for the draperies that we had used in last years Princeton Jr. League Designer House room that I designed. (Drapery photo to follow.....)

Most of my design career, I have had a love affair with plates and platters, butter pats too!

When we came to the finishing touches, I knew that plates would be the perfect accent to follow the lines of the bed. We had several ideas, but when I checked my personal collection, I found that I had these lovely vintage Limoges---cream with the most perfect blue borders. It took a moment to decide that I could give them up, but the vision of their perfect addition to the room convinced me. That's me standing on the new bed to hang them!

Here's a shot of the drapery panels. They are lovely natural linen with a black velvet damask motif. We used black iron rods and rings, and due to the fact that we had only two panels, created an asymmetrical style on each window. Luckily, we had specified the black tapes on the 2" wood blinds for the last room design!

We used vintage furniture for the remaining furniture. I love using a chest of drawers as a bedside table! This one came from my retail store. The smaller bedside table (minus the drawers)! was a Julie find! It's always great when we can combine our efforts within one vision with our clients! Julie was great

Right away, I had the use of these botanicals in mind for the art. I purchased an entire collection of original botanicals salvaged from the agricultural department from Temple University. There were over 80 specimens. We had these professionally photographed and then framed them in floating glass frames, again with our black accent. When this kind of frame is used, the wall color of the room becomes part of the art!

By the way, the originals are dated as far back as the early 1800's and there are some that are from Bucks County. They are all dated and labeled. I have the originals as well as photographs available through the store.

Sneelock did the hanging of these. He has become an expert in the hanging of quadrants of anything! Perfectly placed.

Great straight shot of the headboard and the two vintage side pieces. Note the black lamp with the linen shade! And, the plates......perfect! Something that follows the lines of the curved headboard is so much more appealing than the straight angle of a piece of art.

One final view of the room showing the headboard, dresser/bedside table and botanicals.

If you are invited for an overnight stay,I hope you'll enjoy the quiet ambiance and beautiful soothing color while relaxing in this new and stylish guestroom. Ahhhhh. Beauty plus style.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

i'm no martha......

Our church congregation has an annual chili cook off. This year, with my stretched schedule, I volunteered to bring bread. I figured I could make it ahead and put it in the freezer without too much stress. I really enjoy making bread and do it often.

But alas, last night after arriving home rather late from a few errands, I realized that the cook off was Saturday evening and guess who was working at the store all day??! Yes, that would be me. So I made a plan to do it early in the morning. EARLY. 5:00am early.....not my favorite time of day, and really not my favorite time of day considering that I didn't retire until about 2:30am Friday night, or Saturday morning to be correct.

I set the alarm for 5:00am and had my ingredients ready to go the night before.

5:00 came rather quickly, but I arose and mixed the dough, kneaded it and set it aside to rise. I took advantage of the early hour to have a nap during the first rising. Everything was looking great and on schedule. I began the daily primping routine during the second rising.

This particular bread is one I have continued success with and it is always a hit at any function, as it is a huge round loaf (hardly a typical loaf)! and will feed about 30 people. It is called Sheepherder's Bread and comes from, you guessed it, Charlotte Jane Hunter Petersen, my darling mother. There are a few tips that ensure a great end result and I thought as I rubbed my tired eyes that early hour of the morning, how great a documentation it would make. As I said, it is one impressive "loaf".

After the dough is kneaded, it is shaped into a smooth round ball and put in a well -oiled dutch oven. It is important to spray the lid heavily as well.

This bread rises for the third time in pan (heavy dutch oven) with the lid in place.

When the dough pushed up the lid about a half an inch, it is ready for the oven. The bread begins the baking process with the lid on for about 12 minutes. This creates a beautiful brown crust.

After 12 minutes, the bread looks like this in the oven, and the lid is ready to come off. It is a bit tricky to take the lid off without deflating the tender dough. (You can see why the lid must be well-oiled. I use Pam.
All was going well, the delicious smell of baking bread waifed through the house as I continued to get ready to leave for work. The timer went off and I went in directly to take the bread out and take it out of the pan. Usually, this is an easy job. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself with the photo documentation to this point. I could just imagine how the photos would show step by step the process and the end result is a monument to bread baking!

You can just imagine my utter dismay within seconds of taking it out of the oven, when I realized that it would NOT come out of the pan.....suddenly that sacrifice of the 5:00 hour was nothing by a source of irritation at best! I've made this bread successfully hundreds of times! What the? Why today, when I would not be home all day to retrace my steps and produce the desired beautiful bread art???

I tried every trick in the book to release if from the pan, and when I had finally completed the task, this is what I had to show for my 3 hour very early morning adventure.....

I cannot stress enough how thoroughly you must spray the pan and the lid. So sad, sad, sad, sad, very sad, so sad, SAD!

I threw a tea towel over the hot steaming bread and left for work, feeling the frustration of failure.

Reviewing my options, upon returning home from work, I decided that I would tear the bread into large pieces. Wouldn't that be how sheepherders would eat it? They wouldn't have a knife for perfect slices! I had no choice and began to tear large chunks off of the two split halves.

I then decided to post a disclaimer (!) and serve it in the largest dutch oven I have, I thought it appropriate for the presentation.

So, here is the final outcome. Not what I intended, but pretty darn good for sopping up chili.

Tomorrow, when my frustration is far behind me, I'll post the recipe for you. I highly recommend it. Don't under use the pam.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Me and my trims.........

What is it about editing, cleaning, and reviewing ones "stuff" that is so exhilarating? In the process of getting ready to establish my design studio in the retail store, I have been spending week after week sorting, tossing, reading, reviewing, filing, and, in general, being perfectly objective about the large mass of resources that I have amassed in my current design studio.

A lot like that long sentence, my nights have been a bit overwhelming! When the lights go down and the design staff leaves for the evening, I choose another area to begin culling. I have found it quite rewarding, although exhausting! (Sneelock might agree, as he is the one hauling box after box to the dumpster and returning the empties to me for another fill).

Tonight, after reading, checking for current dates and prices, and sorting the furniture and lamp library, I had a very private dinner in my office, and then dug in to the trim books! I had been dreading this particular part of my resource library, as I love passementeries of any kind, and thoroughly anticipated having an extremely difficult time sending any of them to the dumpster.

As expected, as I inspected and reviewed each trim book (could it be I have at least 100)?, I found myself reminiscing over past projects, ooo-ing and ahhh-ing over colors, textures and lush designs. I must admit that in the first half hour, I feared there would be none leaving the fray.

Luckily, my camera was close at hand. I'll share with you some of the beautiful trims that tugged at my heartstrings as I tried my best to edit and discard. When all was said and done, about 3 hours later, I did make some progress. I think I've kept the best of the best! Soon, you can review them for yourself!

A birds-eye view of the task ahead.......trim books stuffed in any available space, in any available angle. Oh my, where to start?

I thought it appropriate to begin the documentation with one of the classic standards of fine design--the Scalamandre label. Scalamandre is one of the finest high end trim and fabric houses in the industry. I recall one time that I was elated after finding the absolute perfect trim for a project I was working on, only to find out that the net cost was about $10,000.00 PER YARD (!) It had been created and woven for The Whitehouse! I went on to select another trim

One by one, I began opening each binder. As I tried to be objective, I started to see a small stack of "discards" begin to pile up. Others went in to a stack of "to be reviewed one more time", and still others went directly to the floor, my dumpster of sorts for the night.

This table has been my workspace for years. It is 12' long and almost 50" wide! It is an antique library table (as in NY Library) with fabulous horseshoe shaped stretchers. Note the drawers along the side! This table has served me well and held the most inspiring collections of fabrics, trims, furniture frames and drapery designs from my work. Several days ago, Connie and I cleared it to a state of emptiness. I'm not sure why I didn't document that, as I don't know when I have seen it in that state in the last 5 years! I had a current client in to review a selection, and just had to comment on the clean state of the infamously overwhelming normal look. I was quite proud of the lack of product, but she said, "Oh, I quite like clutter! It's a kind of like a state of creative genius". I like that thinking!

As I continued the sorting, these are some of the beautiful passementeries that stole my heart.

100% silk tassels in lovely hues of blue and gray/green---so delicate and soothing.

Double-sided pleated velvet trim and this densely woven chenille and silk fringe. Oooooh!

Silk pom pom fringe in every color combination! Alternating values of the same color....soft, soft, soft! (Not so soft on the wallet, but worth every penny)!

Occasionally, I came across a book containing memories of a past project---like this one with a sticky note and price penciled in at $95.00 yd! This is a personal favorite and one that I have used for many projects. Yum.

Sometimes, it's just a beautiful color combination that speaks to me. This happy bright pink and green in assorted styles made the cut. (I admit to having a sentimental love for this one, these are the colors of my darling granddaughter, Bella's room.

This assortment combines fabulous color (subtle olivey greens) with multiple styles of interest. Look at the organdy ribbon fringe! Delightful on pillows and shams. The eyelash fringe (so named for it's delicate and short fibers) is one I love as well. Then there is the assorted ribbon, chenille and bead trim! And you must realize that each of these beauties come in 6 or 8 colorways!

Thank heavens, occasionally there was one that I could quickly put aside as a discard. Like this one. The flat braided trim was sequin encrusted and I couldn't think of a design that I would wish I had an elephant motif! Off to the discard pile, quickly!

This one didn't make the cut either. I've never been a fan of the greek key motif. Away!

SO thrilled when I found two of the same book! An easy discard for additional space!

I thought I could live without this one.......until I read the color description "graphite". Oh, I do love the color graphite. Look for this color to show up in my designer room for the Bucks County Designer House! Yes, graphite always has a home.

Any book with the Kravet Couture label is worth a second look in my book! And look at the graphics they add to entice you! Kravet Couture speaks the language of style.

Do you love this sheer petal pink pleated organdy trim?! And check out the sweet beaded accompaniment. I could just imagine my sister, Denise, finding a use for this one on a gown. She once took one of my favorite silk drapery fabrics and made a prom dress for her daughter, Emily. Oh my! To die for.....the dress, and Emily!

The color is faded on this shot, but I wanted you to see the square beads and plaid flat braid trim. And what about this flat braid with tiny pom pom tassels. Lastly, the color combination is to die for!

I just love the detail in this tassel. The contrast in color and accent is fabulous too.

Yet another fine all silk tassel trim with the most sophisticated subtle pallet of butter and celedon. That Scalamandre has the touch.

I am sad that this one is so dark. The trim on the bottom is really cool rayon ribbon and the one at the top is panne velvet. Yes!

Not only pleated velvet, but what about these colors!! Is there no end to beauty?

This book brought back the fondest memories of the whole house project we designed for a darling client in Charleston, SC on the island of Sullivans Island. Many assorted wonderful trims were used on that project. A real keeper and fun to rethink.

These colors and the style combined just make me happy!

I couldn't possibly delete this giant rick-rack trim, or the beaded picot edge/rayon ribbon trim! And certainly not the frizzee fringe. Ah, the wonders of passementeries.

This collection feels as if it is begging to be in Michelle's scrap booking studio! So many ribbons and braids.

I just love the look of a new collection of trim books standing at attention and ready for the next big project! This set definitely made the cut.

This stack, on the other hand, did not! Bye bye!

So there you have it, a complete documentation of my editing and a peek at the final cast. I think I've saved the best and invite you to come browse for yourself and enjoy the true magic of passementeries! Come help yourself in a few weeks when I'm ready for company.

One more thought....I guess you can see why I haven't had many posts of late. That's the problem, I'm always home too late! This whole cleaning and moving thing is exhausting. I'm not promising things will get much better until the end of March, but I'll do m best.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Take my heart!

As is my tradition, the last few nights proved to be quite a production in my home kitchen. Ah, yes! The valentine cookie production. My family has had a favorite sugar cookie recipe for as long as I can remember. My handwritten recipe file of old family favorites was taken out of the cupboard, and the production began. My baby sister's penned directions made me long for a family bake-off! It is a real project, but well worth it. And you will be the happy recipients! Just stop by my store either Friday or Saturday for your sweet gift from me.

The dough is mixed and ready to chill. (Check out these way cool kitchen colors! They make me happy.

The rolling process begins after several hours of chilling. Yum! Cookie dough.....

Could there be a cuter apron??! My darling sister in law made it, yes I said MADE it! While on vacation in Santa Fe as guests of my 6'3" brother (yes, I am the mutant of the family....) all of the sisters admired Linda's. She went promptly home and within a week or so, each of us had one of these in the mail! Good mail for sure. Who couldn't tackle the task of dozens of rolled, decorated valentine cookies with the help of this?

Should I carry these in the store?

It's going to be a long night, sure wish Denise were here! I can't help thinking of her saying how "these will sure make my pants fit better"!

Here's the first batch, ready for baking..........all the same size on a cookie sheet for best results.

Cooling and "stacking up"!

I tinted the butter cream frosting ever so slightly and it resulted in petal pink, robin egg blue, and mint. White is always good for accents in the piping for finishing touches. I start with butter, heavy cream, powdered sugar,and vanilla. My mother always taught me that good butter cream frosting always needs a pinch of salt.

I'm pretty happy how the bake-off is going..........

In progress closeup!

The end is in sight......can I taste one now?

The butter cream frosting will set up, and then into the freezer.......very carefully.

I'm very happy with the end result! I hope to see you Friday or Saturday to pick up your gift. Happy Valentines Day to you from me. If any of you are interested in the recipe, you can find it on my daughter, Michelle's, recipe blog. You can link to it right from mine!