Sunday, April 26, 2009

Countdown to finish line

Well, here are just a few photos I took today. We worked late into the evening and I didn't have the best light! Don't worry, Sneelock will be on duty to do the final photo shoot. (Tonight he was too busy hanging draperies and he had to remake the soft roman shades! They were too wide!!)

I very pleased with the way the room is turning out. We added the best pillows today from a local designer, hung the draperies,and detailed the walls with art and vintage plates and platters. I haven't used many of these for years, and it was nostalgic to get them all out. I like the clean lines of the linen furniture with the use of the plates as art. I also combined many of my collected framed buttons from a darling and quirky designer we purchase from for the store.

So, here's just a peak at some of the details....

Look at these too cute pillows that one of our local suppliers furnished for the room! They are the perfect color and add a bit of unexpected personality to the sofa and chairs! The pom poms are just too darling!! These two designers live in Yardley and their company is Swia Silk. What fun I had selecting the styles and how fabulous of them to contribute them to our room design. They will be for sale through the designer sales during the show house.

I selected these lamps from another favorite line that we carry in the store. But how pleased I was when the shades matched absolutely perfectly with my linen sofa and the stenciled motif looked as if they had used the wall color for a perfect color match! Perfection achieved!

In addition, I got three of the small vintage French letters/envelopes framed.(Remember, I found them in my flea market purchase books?!) I'll take a photo the first chance I get.

I collaged this wall of vintage plates and platters, along with these two framed intaglios that were found at our local (and fantastic!) antique flea market. I added into the mix several of the framed buttons that I spoke of. From the look of this photo, I'm wondering if I should have tightened up the scale just a bit. I'll take another look tomorrow!

Did you know that terrariums are back??! Yes! These are some great ones I ordered for the room from yet another favorite vendor, but you can use any lidded compote or glass container for this purpose. The favorite container you used for Christmas ornaments on your mantle can now be converted to a summer centerpiece as a terrarium!

Another shot of the drum chandelier, the table lamps and the giant ferns that flank the front entrance into the room. These ferns are not real!! Until you touch them, you cannot tell.

There's a few more details to come, but basically I'm coming to the final countdown. Hope to see you all there!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

First Look!

After working all day with the most inclement weather, Rita and I made a pretty good dent in the final stages of the designer house. I'm going to tell you, when you really need a helping hand, and one who is an engineering type thinker, practical and down to earth.....Rita is your girl!!

We carried about 18-20 total loads of books, accessories, lamps, platters, and art into my room! The day started out with a terrible downpour! We tribute our combined prayers for the parting of the storm clouds just long enough for us to empty the van with multiple trips before the downpour resumed! Now that's the kind of friend I want on my team! Thanks again, Rita!

(Due to a very bad hair day for both of us, no photos!!)

Obviously, the lack of natural light combined with my accent wall of black (!) did not bode well for photos.....the mantle was in progress, and after viewing this shot, I am certain that my final change was a good move! It's coming along.

Sneelock won't be too impressed with this one either! I guess I should have tried one without a flash, or turned off the chandelier! But take a look at that great chandelier! As you can see, there was a lot of "noise" about the room with other clutter!

This shot is one of the window sills with the exotic fan-tail pussy willows, several nests and one of my favorite vintage dogs....

Tomorrow, I'll try to take a better snapshot when all is fairly well in place. (Can't wait for the drapes.....!)

It is rewarding to see the whole thing coming together. Once again, thanks to my dear friend Rita for putting in another day of hanging crystals, loading, unloading, polishing, handing, climbing, sorting, labeling, and in general, woman of all trades!

Stay tuned for more updates. Tickets are still available at Black-eyed Susan!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

We're off!!

Oh my! I am getting such a back log of blog posts, it's a bit overwhelming

I'll catch up as soon as time permits. Here's what you have to look forward to!
Las Vegas project!! Yes! We made our first trip out to size up the project and get our design ideas going, being directed by our client to give it the Las Vegas glam effect!! You'll need to stay tuned for this one.

We left in style to be sure:

I guess even 5:30am looks better in this! (stretch limo pickup!)

We stayed in a posh hotel designed in the name of Steve Wynn. This is our fabulously comfy bed, decked out in down! The headboard was very stylish too! Check it out. Our room was brand new and full of stylish appointments! Just what my design eye appreciated.

I adored this fresh upholstered chair in butter yellow. Our room was yellow and orange, can't beat that! There were two of these cuties flanking the chest of drawers.

Our bathroom was very glamorous, with a marble floor, double sink (magnifying make-up mirror included). We even had a flat screen TV mounted in the wall for early morning entertainment!
Very stylish sink, check out the legs!

I never had a chance to try out this inviting soaking tub.....maybe next time!

Now this is what I call snacks! Candies, chocolates, nuts, cookies, bottled water....all for the enjoyment of the pampered guest! The logo for our hotel shows up great here.

After a 5:30 am pickup and a 5 hour flight, we landed and got right to work (well, after a fabulous lunch at a 4 star restaurant to die for!) We were treated like royalty from a chic room, to 5 star restaurants, to VIP tickets to an over the top Vegas show. In between, workworkwork! We got our measurements, went shopping for furniture and tile, furnished the house, and more.

Whew!! Back on the plane and home again after two days of high style rolling (not the gambling kind....)

I'll be documenting our trip, the design direction and some pretty fabulous style photos as time permits.

Along with all this, the designer house is coming to a close for the preparation part! Here is a photo of how it looked last week prior to hoping over to Vegas. This week, we;ll complete the room with every bell and whistle. Stay tuned for more design inspiration. It looks like it's going to be a great showhouse and great food from Jamie Hollander as well! Tickets are available at Black-eyed Susan ($20.00 if purchased ahead, $25.00 at the door).

The room is really shaping up and we have great compliments from the others involved so far! I know you'll love it too.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My New Favorite...

Each Atlanta market week (2 times per year), my great shopping companion and CFO, Linda and I, head off to the Apparel Building to search the jewelry offerings. We always come back with great finds and the newest trends. This segment of our buying trip is always fun and we look forward to seeing what the newest style direction is.

You may recall my report of the top billing for anything "PEACE", celebrating the 50th year of the peace sign. And, I must say that every single piece that I brought back last market with "Peace"....swaroski crystal, metallic gold, sterling silver, rhinestone.....every single piece of peace (!) were the first to go! (I even purchased several for myself, and have had fun wearing them)
Last week, one of the new vendors that we purchased was received. The formula= pearls, monograms, gold chains, charms. Great style and great impact. The designer is John Wind, very artistic and very cool! The collection has gotten loads of press and big-time approval from celebrities across the board.
As for myself, I ordered several pieces. The price point ranges from $36.00 to about $75.00. The designer's plan suggests layering multiple pieces, and adding more charms as desired!

Take a look at my personal selections!

Each piece comes in a fancy little box like a miniature jewelry box! This makes quite a statement as a gift. The collection consists of initials, pearl bobbles, lockets, and there are some numbers which are very chic!

Come in and try one on for yourself, I'm addicted to mine.

The John Wind Collection: Now Showing at Black-eyed Susan. Come see the magic!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Final Day of Treats!

Saturday was the last day of our week-long open house/grand opening of the design studio resources. Several of our favorite "regulars" stopped by to check out our new set-up and be reassured that we would still be offering inspiring retail inventory!

Not to worry, I've only taken over a tiny bit of the retail space for my own design resources. And, now they can be your resources!

Our florist has a tiny room upstairs to work her magic and I have some additional space to stash some favorite fabric books that I don't have room for .

In honor of the last day, and according to plans, I baked a long time favorite chocolate pound cake with cooked fudge frosting. YUM! For years, when Linda and I would go to market in Atlanta, there was one showroom we would frequent on a regular basis. About 3:00p.m. each day, the showroom manager's wife, Julie, would pull out her home baked goodies and serve all those who were in the showroom. We always tried to be "in the area" several days that week!
Julie was gracious enough to share her recipe with me, and I'll share it with you! It is a delicious, moist pound cake, very rich chocolate with even richer icing! It's fairly easy and loaded with calories, thanks to almost a pound of butter!!

Julie Annne's Chocolate Pound Cake

1 8oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter
1/2 cup margarine (I prefer Land O' Lakes)
2 cups white sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
6 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1 tbs vanilla

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition. Add cream cheese, cocoa, flour, vanilla. eat well. I sift the flour 2 times.

Spray pan with Pam, or oil and flour pan. I use a bundt pan.

bake at 325degrees for one hour and 20 minutes. (No peeking!) Cool 10 minutes before inverting on wire rack.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

1 stick butter
2 cups sugar

1/2 cup whole milk
5 tbs. cocoa
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients together and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 3-5 minutes. (I tried 5, next time I might try about 4). Beat with the electric mixer to desired consistency Pour immediately over the cake and garnish with chopped walnuts.

This cake freezes well, if you have any leftovers!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Grand Opening Treats!

For the fourth day of our grand opening celebration, I made one of our family's favorite cream pies (coconut cream) into mini tarts. Each day we've served one of my home baked treats to all who walk through the door. Yum!

I decided in the interest of time,to purchase the tart shells from a fine bakery in the area, and I was quite disappointed in them. They were too thick and not at all flaky. After they were filled and sat out for a time, the filling did seem to soften them up a bit, and they were a tiny bit better. But, I don't think I would purchase them again. I would try to find time to make my own!

Here is the recipe. Give it a try!
Susan's Banana Cream or Coconut Cream Pie
Combine in a heavy saucepan:
2/3 cup sugar
5 tbl flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups whole milk

In a separate bowl, slightly beat 3 egg yolks.

Cook sugar and flour mixture on medium heat to boiling. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add a small amount (few tbls) to the egg yolks, then beat the egg yolk mixture into the custard. Return to heat and boil one more minute, stirring constantly.

Pour into a large bowl. Fill a large bowl with cold water to use as a water bath. Cool the custard surrounded by the cold water. Add 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla and 4 Tbl butter. Stir with a wire whisk often, until cool.

Cover and refrigerate over night.

For coconut cream, add 1 cup shredded coconut. For banana cream, add three medium sliced bananas.

Fill cooled pie shell with filling and top with shipped cream.

One last note. Last night, I posted about returning to my roots. Check out this floral lapel creation!

I made these 20 years ago when I had a millinery business making hats and hair accessories. I sold to Nordstrom across the nation. Last week, a customer came into the store expecting to find some! I took the order and made one for her that's what I call returning to my roots, even if it was just for a minute!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Another Charlotte Jane Keeper!

As promised, here is the recipe for the delicious lemon bread that I made for our third day of our grand opening of the Design Center! It's been a great week so far, introducing my retail friends to the resources now available to them . Combining our retail and interior division is an exciting new adventure and truly does take me back to my roots.

My first little retail store was only 400 sq. feet! The historic stone cottage on Stony Hill Road in Lower Makefield was my first venture into retail. My interior design business had exisited many years prior to opening my cute store. So many people have asked me how I came to name my store! I wanted my name to be part of it. I also opened with about 75% of my inventory being floral related. In addition to these factors, I wanted a name that could be any kind of store I wanted it to be! I thought maybe someday I would want it to be a boutique for jewelry or clothing. Black-eyed Susan could be vintage collectables! Maybe I would want a shoe store someday! (I'm sure my daughters are getting scared about now wondering if I am planning on even more adventures!) Black-eyed Susan. I like it.

I hope you will come in and take advantage of the new resources that have been added. If I personally am not available, one of my assistants will be. I can be found at the retail store now any time that I am not out with a design client. We will be offering instore consultations and design for a reduced rate from the custom full service interior design rate.

Here is the recipe for the lemon bread that was served today. Try it, it's great and not difficult.

6 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest

1 1/2 cups flour, sifted

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

1 large loaf, or 3 mini loaves

Cream the butter and 3/4 cup sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in 3 tablespoons lemon juice and the lemon zest. Combine sifted flour, baking powder and salt. To the butter mixture, add the flour mixture aternately with the milk, beating just enough to blend. Line the bottom of the pan with waxed paper. Spray the pan with Pam. Turn the batter into the pan. Bang pan down hard on the work surface to settle the batter evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. Blend the remaining 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1/2 cup sugar. Pour this mixture slowly over the hot bread. Let the bread remain in the pan until the glaze is absorbed, at least 15 minutes. Remove from pan, leaving on the wax paper. Let stand on rack until completely cooled. Remoe waxed paper; wrap bread in foil and let sit for 24 hours before slicing.

Note: I made mini loaves and baked them for about 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy! I hope to see you soon.

Tomorrow, I'll be serving mini coconut cream tarts! Watch for the recipe as well.

Susan's Famous Brownies!

I guess you could really call it the Petersen Famous Brownies, as it is my mother's recipe, but there is not a person alive who doesn't love this special treat! They are fast, rich (and, fattening....) and always make a hit.

I should have prefaced this post with the report that I am baking treats for each day of our Grand Opening to kick off the addition of my design studio into the retail store! So far, the reports from our clients have been favorable and the new resources that are readily available are a great addition to the possibilities for your design/home projects. I have been spending this week pointing out my favorites and trying to find the perfect possibilities for my client's needs. We've sourced fabrics, carpet, kitchen tables and chairs, lighting, art, and mirrors!

There's still time for you to come in with your wish list for some personal help. I hope to see you!

I also published our new event menu with dates for the next few months. There are some great evenings planned. Complimentary, but we do require registration to ensure enough space.

I seldom do posts without photos, and I'm sad that I didn't document the cake plate of half-eaten brownie bites! Try these, you'll love them.

Tomorrow night, the lemon bread (also from my mother!) that we had today. Stay tuned.

Susan's Famous Brownies

Melt together : 1 cup butter
3 squares unsweetened baking chocolate

Beat well: 4 eggs

Add: 2 cups sugar to eggs and beat well
add the melted butter and baking chocolate + 2 tsp pure vanilla

Stir in: 1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of baking powder (my mother deleted this several years ago, but I always
put just a pinch in!)

Spray a 9x13 pan with Pam and pour the mixture into the pan. I add broken walnuts on top prior to baking.

Bake at 375 for about 18 minutes. Do not over bake!! A good tip from Charlotte Jane (my mom) is when you reach the point of fragrance, check for doneness. Let cool in the pan before frosting.

For the frosting, I just make up a butter cream from scratch, however, I don't really have a recipe! I start by melting about 6 TB butter with 2 squares of baking chocolate. Then I add enough powdered sugar and cream to make the right consistency, about 3 cups I would say! Add a tsp.of pure vanilla and a pinch of salt. Mix well with hand mixer. When brownies are cool, spread the frosting on the brownies, cut and serve. They freeze very well.

Enjoy! And, give me reports, please!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Susan Saves the Day!

It's always an exciting day in design when the long awaited custom draperies are installed for one of our fun interior projects! There is an air of anticipation, all the while holding your breath that all will go as planned, the draperies will be the perfect length, the trim will be as exceptional as you expected, and the overall completed product to die for.
Thursday, we me our installer on the job site to install $10k worth of fabulous silk striped draperies for a fabulous historic living room in Bucks County. I had designed a beautiful inverted pleat panel and taken a very special tassel from a Scalamadre trim to be added to each pleat. They looked exactly as I had envisioned! Wonderful! This design had taken the owner of the workroom to oversee just how they would be fabricated in order to get the desired result and I was excited to see the finished product

We had waited a good 5 weeks for custom painted barley twist rods in a bronze/silver finish to be manufactured.
Out come the rods.
Within a few moments, my installed quietly announced that the pole was too large for the inside loops that had been fashioned to support the panels to the wall.


Needless to say, our client was even more disappointed than we were. Easter dinner with family and friends...long awaited draperies noticeably absent...despair for all.
Then, I started brainstorming. Surely I could purchase some substitute rods from somewhere close (Calico Corner, perhaps?!) , paint them and return before the installer was ready for them. After all, he had an entire other room to complete first! Much to the surprise of my project manager, we left in a hurry to try to replace the poles.
Success! I found the pole I needed at Calico Corner. Rifling through the floral paint supply, I found a good, full can of antique gold spray paint. I applied this color first to stained poles, then dry brushed them with antique silver and, VOILA!! Perfection achieved!!
The poles dried almost immediately, I packed the car and set off to show my magic! My project manager had her doubts that the client would be happy with my makeshift "custom rods", but I thought she would totally be impressed that we were able to overcome this quite serious obstacle and end up with a perfectly installed living room full of the most gorgeous silk drapery panels. Indeed, she was!

This is not the best photo to show my end result, but I will tell you that it was the perfect finish! Kind of a florentine finish, fit for $10K worth of draperies!! I was very pleased, and my client was thrilled that the installation had been saved. Sorry, I didn't get a good shot of the draperies. Taking fine photos of draperies is always a challenge, as we are always looking into the light of the window.

So, take my word for it! The finished product was indeed, fit for a king. Every now and then, the winds blow in your favor.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sneak Peek

Unlike last night, when I began by telling you it the short, edited edition...and then posted umpteen photos, this one really is!

This is the vingette I created for the program booklet for the Designer House. It's almost one full month ahead of the D-day, so who knows if this is still what this great little chest will look like on opening day, but for now, I really like it!

I painted the chest the lighter color of the stripe, including the hardware. The platters are some that I found at the Paris flea market last spring while visiting my daughter. The books, also from the Paris flea market offered a wonderful surprise when a stack of 8 or 9 very old letters fell from the pages! The envelopes are smaller than an index card, with the most beautiful califgraphy-like penmenship/manuscripts in chocolate and eggplant inks. No one writes with that beauty anymore. Of course, the letters were in French, but they were still fun to cast my eyes upon. I'm thinking that they would make a wonderful framed piece of art for the room.

I'll let you know, but they are a real treasure.

I got the idea to tuck one of the new linens that just came in into the drawer. These are the vintage linens from France that are remade and collaged, some with monograms added. I told you about them during my buying trip in January. They didn't disappoint me! You must stop in and see the fabulous selection.

The lamp is interesting as well. The shade is a natural gray linen and has a manuscript faintly written on it. The manuscript is Italian wedding vows! Oh, my.

I got rave reviews from all around, and I think the room will be a hit. With the difficult work behind me, it will be exciting to put the whole room together in a few weeks. I'll keep you posted!

Closeup of part of the acccessories. *note the old postcard from France, which also fell out of my book! I'm hoping it's still there tomorrow when I stop by to clean up the photo shoot set-up. I neglected to tell you that the letters dated back to the early 1800's! Treasures, indeed.

The designer house is going to be a good one this year. There is the main manor house (the one we are doing the living room another Victorian house , and multiple outbuildings , boutiques and gardens. The cafe will be catered by Jamie Hollander, YUM! Save the date.

And don't forget that you can get your advanced tickets at Black-eyed Susan...a full $5.oo less than at the door!

Start counting. See you there!