A Love Affair

The Valentine's Day garden brunch was a lovely success. The weather was absolutely perfect; high of 60-something, not a cloud in the sky. The hummingbird made a showing and the guests brought delectable goodies. I slaved away all day Saturday, running to the flower mart, preparing the décor and making scones, cupcakes and slicing things. And I loved it! Sure, my feet were sore and I was ready to collapse by the end of the night, but I knew it would all pay off when the sun came up on Sunday.

Here are some pics from the preparations (click on any for larger version):

Champagne flutes tied with tissue paper pom poms. Ceramic dishes ($1.99 each from Ross) filled with white cane sugar with flowers and cinnamon candy hearts placed down the center.

Flower centerpieces: (L) Glass cylinder with a red-checkered kitchen towel placed along the inner circumference, tupperware container inserted in the center and filled with water, flowers to finish. (R) China tea kettle filled with flowers.

All set! Cupcakes - Sprinkles Red Velvet mix available from William Sonoma.

In the morning, it was time to set the table and hang the larger pom poms from the surrounding princess flower trees:

For the table setting, I used alternating red and green napkins/kitchen towels with my grandmother's gold-rimmed wedding china set on top. The finishing touch: cut out tissue paper hearts topped with a candy heart (in Spanish!).

amor, dulce, mi novio, todo mio, guapo !

And then of course, there was the food. I prepared deviled eggs, a fruit salad, scones, roasted potatoes and roasted asparagus wrapped with neufchâtel and proscuitto (thanks to Alex for getting those prepped!).

Alex brought a gorgeous quiche, decorated with a red pepper heart! Christine delighted us with gluten-free bread stuffed with mascarpone and freshly made strawberry jam (made by Alex) and Jackson made soft-boiled eggs with english muffins. Needless to say, no one went hungry.

A tasty strawberry champagne from Danielle for our cupcake dessert topped it all off!


V-Day Brunch Inspiration

I'm hosting a Valentine's Day Garden Brunch this Sunday and am so excited to take advantage of our beautiful patio and the opportunity to decorate with some frilly, pretty things! The magnolias and other small white and highly fragrant flowers (the name is escaping me) are beginning to bloom and the ivy, palms and mossy brick are lush after the recent rain we've had.

I already have plenty of ideas regarding decor and will take some photos of a couple of things as I put them together, but I'm also loving this beautiful tablescape, created with woven streamers. So simple, fun and bold. I think I might just layer a bunch of different tablecloths / curtains we have lying around to make a patchwork floral, but if that doesn't work out, I may try this (via Apartment Therapy).

I'm also thinking that I'd like to make some tissue paper pom poms to hang in the trees around the perimeter of the garden. Here's a how-to for these from Martha Stewart Weddings. If you have money to spare, you can also purchase them on Etsy from PomLove.

And then of course, there will be flowers. I want to check out the SF Flower Mart on Saturday to see what's in season and affordable but I'd like to find some Quince blossoms. I also always fall for a beautiful bouquet of Ranunculus.

As for the food ... I can't give everything away!


Keisuke Serizawa Calendars

Years ago when I helped to clean out / move my late Grandmother from her condo to an assisted living community, one of the things I grabbed for keeps was a series of Japanese prints. I wasn't sure what they were at the time, but I noticed how delicate the sheets of paper were and how each was printed with a different design.

Turns out, the sheets were part of a calendar — each sheet was printed with a different month of the year. Other than that, I didn't have any more info. I figured they were pretty old and I stashed them away in a box somewhere. A few years later, I framed two "April" prints (my birth month) and gave a "February" print as a gift to a friend.

Today, I visited the Tortoise General Store online and came across a new, smaller version of the calendar along with a description that includes a history of the calendars!

Copied from the Tortoise General Store listing:

"Just after the end of WWII, Keisuke Serizawa's first calendar for 1946 appeared. It was stencil dyed in 12 sheets of a hand-made-Japanese paper. Under the occupation by the United States, this calendar became popular among high-class officer's wives in U.S. Forces and was devised as a Christmas gift for people in the U.S. Since then, he had kept producing new calendar for 40 years until he passed away, and still even now, this calendar has been produced with existing patterns. It is popular not only in Japan but also all around the world still now.

This is printed version and the size is smaller than the original one to fit on a desk. This technique of dyeing a pattern with a stencil is original of Keisuke Serizawa, and in 1956 he was specified as a Living National Treasure according to his achievements of "stencil-dyeing"."

I will try to get around to taking some photos of the calendars I have as I'm pretty sure they're some of the oldest editions.


Back to the grind

First day at the new full time freelance gig in downtown SF.

The view from one side (windows all around the office provide a 360 view of San Francisco). I've started a blog called Everyday East Bay featuring photos of this view. It's an off shoot of my friend (and designer) Chesley's Everyday East River featuring shots of NYC's East River as seen from her studio in Brooklyn.

I've been trying to get back to eating really well. It's been a cinch to stay on track while at home with not much else going on and time on my hands to go to the grocery store whenever needed. I've been like one of those Orange County Housewives—15mile bike ride in the middle of the day on a Wednesday? Sure!

I was really good this morning about making breakfast and packing a lunch before leaving the house. Of course, then I left the lunch behind on my bed, but that's beside the point. THEN I got the grand tour of the office and discovered precisely where the temptation lies:

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