Under the Tree: A Tidbit

This Christmas my not-so-little brother was able to wrap my tablescaping hobby, obsession with creative repurposing, and fondness for spoons into one amazing gift...

It's a "tidbit stand" (no kidding, that's what it said on the tag!)

Drew found it at Pottery Barn
I had never even seen it before- otherwise I might have bought it for myself! 
Wait a second... I got out-shopped by my kid brother?

Anyway, I know I'll get lots of compliments on this piece when I use it for tidbits (what else?) at the first cocktail party I throw in Berkeley. Thanks, Drew- you're invited!

Under the Tree: Fit for a Queen, or Me.

I thought you might like to admire some more of the gifties that I got for Christmas... At the very least, I wanted to show them off!

I happen to know that these embroidered napkins were found at Anthropologie, and that they were a sweet deal. Very regal new additions to my decor menagerie. That freckly lion just does me in, he's so cute. Where shall I put them?

My Mom found the "E" necklace at a favorite jewelry store in Edmonds called Bluefish. Subtle sparkle, delicate leaf charms, an elegant capital E in antiqued gold... made for an Elizabeth who loves letters, right?


Under the Tree: It's Science!

If you followed along as Adam and I analyzed our design tastes, you'll know that we were both inspired by interiors with a laboratory aesthetic ("lab fab," if I may). We decided to mix some chemistry-chic decor into our gothic-eclectic home. Ever since we've been searching for the perfect science paraphernalia to test out...

And what do you know- Santa's been reading my blog!

The many scientists in Adam's family tried to teach me the proper name for this type of flask, but I persist in calling them "vases." It is incredible that I passed AP Chemistry.

The frog was also hiding in my stocking. He's not real, but wriggly enough to fake it. 
I find him rather delightful, Matilda seems to find him threatening.

I can't wait to experiment with my new labware. Cruets for oil & vinegar? Dispensers for measuring out potent alcoholic concoctions? I don't know- but I'm sure they'll look smart in my china cabinet.


Keys to My Heart

You know, the problem with One Kings Lane is that it has gotten so confoundedly popular (man, am I kicking myself for telling everyone about it). I've got to get into the habit of breezing through first thing in the morning, because if I wait until lunch... disaster!
Things that I really, really need are sold out!

Godinger Key-Shaped Cocktail Stirrers that would have looked so posh in my vintage glassware... argh!
Also, the trouble with One Kings Lane is that once I've been tempted by a great deal, say, "12 perfectly quirky stirrers for $25," then buying "6 quirky stirrers for $25" elsewhere doesn't sound perfect at all. Which is funny, because the notion of having more than 6 people drinking in my tiny apartment at one time is fairly far-fetched. Still, it's the principle! 12 is better than 6!

Anyway. Real post coming tomorrow. For now I'm still being punished for taking a few days off of work (agh, the data-entry!), tomorrow I will show off the new toys I got for Christmas...


A Present for Shock The Bourgeois!

I hope you all survived your holly-jolly holiday (and I hope that unlike me, you're taking an extended vacation). I can't wait to show you what I found under the tree on Christmas morning!

I also received a very sweet gift from friends in the blogging community: I got some nods for an AT Homie Award!

I can't tell you how flattered I am to be included. It's the best gift that a very new and modest blog could hope for- thank you! Be sure to check out the Homie nominees- add your favorites to the list, and find new favorites for your reading pleasure!


A Tip for the Last-Minute Gift-Giver

Ah, December 23rd, the day when you realize that you have left your brother-in-law/dentist/dog-walker/favorite-Seattle-blogger off of your gift list. It is time for a gift on the fly, and the very thought of elbowing through hoards of panicked shoppers at the mall makes you hy-per-ven-ti-late...!

Take a deep breath.

The solution is right around the corner at your local market. Admit it, if you're behind on gifts, you're probably missing a few ingredients for your holiday feast as well (oh $#@*, need eggs for the pumpkin pie!). We're not suggesting that you give anyone day-old Santa-shaped cookies wrapped in a plastic grocery bag (in fact, having received this exact present before, we'd strongly discourage it). Supermarkets are stocked with incredible treats that you may have overlooked during the chore of weekly grocery shopping. We like to think of Christmas as the time to buy our loved ones the items that they couldn't justify buying for themselves. In more prosperous years, that might mean electronics or precious metals, but this rotten economy has made this a Christmas of simple pleasures. Wouldn't it feel special to receive the fancy olive oil or exotic imported salt that you always deny yourself?

As for us, getting a bottle of wine really lights us up (especially after we've opened it). If we're going to be living just a quick jaunt away from Wine Country, we've got to build up our cred. You know, "Ah yes, the '87. Oaky, but do I detect a faint aroma of cherries...?" Our budget is really putting our wine education on hold, so we'd much appreciate a bit o' primo vino. We aren't wine snobs yet though- you won't hurt our feelings if you buy us a crappy wine. We won't drink that swill, but we'll certainly unscrew the top and pour it into one of Adam's cooking concoctions!

Alcohol in gorgeous packaging is sure to please these bloggers. We'd probably leave the bottle on the shelf long after the last drop has been drunk.

This bottle has got us all wrapped up in its tantalizing tentacles. 
We may not know much about wine, but we do know that we should like a Syrah.

Photo Courtesy of Christopher Robbins, Cool Wine Labels Blog
These clever labels appeal to our devious natures, and the name certainly does the wine credit!

Photo Taken with Elizabeth's iPhone, Second Image & Wine by Francis Ford Coppola Winery

The great thing about food and wine is that it's easy to wrap. Gourmet tidbits look amazing piled in a basket, and wine boxes are fun to customize (or try a mailing tube!). Anyway, stop stressing over last minute gifts and remember that the fastest way to a friend's heart is through their stomach.

Wishing you a delicious holiday,

Adam & Elizabeth


A Clever Display

While picking out our Christmas tree at Sky Nursery, my parents and I couldn't help peeking around at their other offerings. Ornaments galore, a greenhouse full of wintry blooms, and these very inspiring displays:

What a great example of thoughtful merchandising. These doors will be easy to paint and keep fresh for a year's worth of ideas. After all, the massive selection of this nursery can be a little overwhelming for the amateur gardener or for those of us who rent. Not everyone has a front yard, but all of us have front doors! These displays show how to create a welcoming doorstep using coordinated colors and practical container gardens. Forget about landscaping, this is porchscaping!

Images Taken with my iPhone


Feathered Finery

Perhaps you've noticed my fondness for decorating with fowl and feather. A faux crow, a wise little owl or two, a pair of birdcages... you don't have to go out on limb to guess that I'm pretty much tickled by all of the avian accessories abound this holiday season. I don't have a nest to feather this year, but perhaps I should start collecting now?

These are perfect for the neutral and natural Christmas that I've been envisioning. Envisioning these on the tree with metallic trimmings makes my heart flutter.

Feathered Orb Trio from Anthropologie

On the trip to Sky Nursery to adopt the family Christmas tree I spotted these rather glamorous plumes tucked into the branches of a display tree. Very stylish- similar to the black feathers that Cassandra of Coco + Kelley used.

Just the thing for an elegant holiday dinner. The placemats are a lovely way to add texture to a white tableclothed spread. I have four that I'm planning on using under centerpieces! The Quill flatware is so fanciful, I think that a pair of spreaders would suffice.

Guinea Feather Placemat from Jayson Home & Garden, Quill Flatware from Pottery Barn

I love the simplicity of this calendar- such beautiful way to watch the year fly by, and an excellent gift (in fact, I think one would really soften up my home office, *hint, hint*).

Year of Feathers Calendar by The Wild Unknown, as featured by Design*Sponge


Down the Rabbit Hole of Fashion

I know that the girl who wears black sweaters everyday doesn't have much right to talk about fashion, but here's my two cents.




Images Courtesy of Style.com 

Zac Posen's pre-fall line has me in Wonderland- such an subtle and sophisticated take on a very famous children's book. Of-the-moment plaid on tailored, wearable pieces with a cheeky "I ate the magic mushroom" attitude. The most curious thing I ever saw.

Anybody know anybody who knows Zac Posen? Because I'm absolutely mad for those white rabbit sweaters.

Kitchen Chemist: Soup of the Day, Part IV & Finale

I hope that you've been enjoying my Salmon Bisque tutorials as much as I've been enjoying the soup- all week long!

Just a few last ingredients to add...

Keep stirring, keep tasting, and then you're done...

This is one of our favorite recipes- it fills our stomachs without emptying our wallets. A tough economy can be pretty unappetizing. When money is tight, it's easy to turn to canned soup, top ramen, or worse. Cheap food doesn't have to make you feel and look lousy. For just a few dollars per serving, this Salmon Bisque (and many other homemade soups and casseroles) is nutritious and almost extravagantly flavorful. Better yet, it's a meal that can be reheated and eated all week, and it freezes well (for those of you preparing for the long winter).
I'd like to hear from all of you foodies out there, and of course, anyone who is culinarily-challenged. What kind of recipes would you like to see here at StB? Restaurant-inspired? Gourmet on a budget? Holiday party appetizers? Gluten-free? Leave us a comment!


Craig's List Christmas Wish List

One day after browsing through the bleak job postings in the Bay Area, I decided to cheer myself up with a quick dip into furniture for sale. Though nobody in California wants to employ me, they do want to sell me some excellent stuff.

First up, this gem- a Shiny Red Pharmacy Cabinet.  

No price, which signals that I should back away slowly, but my goodness, how lovely.
It reminds me of these cabinets from Mothology (and these from Restoration Hardware), which are definitely on my "someday, maybe" list.  

The Craig's List find has a much more appealing shape, but I'm not sold on the sporty finish- I prefer the raw and weathered look shown here. 
Certainly would make for a sassy liquor cabinet!

The seller of this antique Cast Iron Industrial Shelving was apparently entertaining reasonable offers- but not mine! Oh, misery! 

I hope he got his $395 asking price- what a deal.
Rotten luck that this one got away, as it would have been a great alternative to the unspeakably expensive Decker Bookshelf at Anthropologie.

The wheels make for practical kitchen storage, and it has a masculine edge and historical aura that would earn Adam's approval.

And lastly, this Wardian Plant Conservatory. Oh, my. I have a place for this in my heart, and also in a sunny corner of my Berkeley bedroom. I already have an elegant little plant mister and an orchid. Give me this, a sarcastic butler, and a British accent to match and I'm living in a Henry James novel. Yes please. Now let's have tea and feign aristocratic ennui. Yes please.

Only $250, quite a bit better than the retail price.

Sooooo... if anyone is really stumped about what to get me for Christmas this year, allow me to recommend a Craig's List gift certificate (also known as "cash").

Kitchen Chemist: Soup of the Day, Part III

If you've been following along with my Salmon Bisque tutorial, you're already familiar with the ingredients, and you've also seen me cry on camera. Now it's time to get things cooking- and add the feature flavor.

Putting the Salmon in the Salmon Bisque

Tomorrow we'll finish things up with some veggies and a long simmer.


It's a Wrap

I'm running a little behind today, so I'm going to postpone the third installment of Adam's Salmon Bisque Tutorial until tomorrow- many apologies to those of you craving soup!

You may be wondering why the blog has been a little quiet this week.  I've been having so much fun at my day job that I've been neglecting my hobby!  I've had the great pleasure of putting together my company's annual client and associate gift.

My task was to dress up a bottle of wine in a way that represents the company and celebrates the season.  Think of it as one part marketing to five parts good cheer. Here's what I came up with...

The wine boxes are from Paper Mart, an excellent online source for packaging materials. I worked with a local printer to have the company logo applied to each box in metallic silver ink. Each box is stuffed with shredded plans- much more attractive than multi-colored crinkle filler, and a great way to recycle! A trip to the hardware store produced hex nuts, flat washers, fishing line, notched washers, and mirror florets. These inexpensive materials are sparkly, but definitely relevant for a construction company! I strung them with beads to make simple gift tags into ornaments.

They resemble snowflakes, and each one is different!

After I wrap-up this task, it's on to the next: wrapping up my own Christmas gifts! I'm going to be using the same hardware for my own gifts, but I'll style them with a bit more festive whimsy. If you're bored of the same-old store-bought bow, I'd recommend you give this a try. It's a very approachable project (and you can use up all the extra parts and pieces in your junk drawer!).

Because I had to be a thrifty gifter this year, it's especially important to me to go all-out with extravagant packaging. Presentation is everything- and a gift doesn't have to cost a fortune to look like a million bucks.

Ah, I love wrapping gifts. It's my favorite part of Christmas! Don't suppose anyone has any extra presents I could decorate?


Kitchen Chemist: Soup of the Day, Part II

Yesterday I introduced you to the ingredients for my Salmon Bisque. Now it's time to break out the big knife and hack 'em up. My tip of the day: don't anthropomorphize your veggies. Really.

Butchering the Garlic & Onions:

Check back tomorrow, we'll heat things up...


Kitchen Chemist: Soup of the Day (or Week?)

Soup is easy to make, but difficult to make well. I sometimes give advice on how to fix mistakes, or how to emphasize the best qualities of a dish. Soup is merciless in that the flavor is far and away the most important aspect. It cannot be plated in a dramatic way, it pretty much conforms to the dish you serve it in. It cooks slowly and irreversibly. Once an ingredient is added, it cannot be taken away. A good soup takes hours to prepare, so if a mistake is made, the cook is essentially out of luck.

One of our favorite dishes is Smoked Salmon Bisque, a hearty and creamy concoction that I make from scratch during the fall and winter months. This is one seafood dish that even the seafood averse can enjoy, as there are no bones/skin/fish texture to deal with. When executed correctly, this bisque can serve as the highlight of a meal, or as a mind-blowing appetizer. You can't make too much, because it's even better reheated the next day. In fact, I made about two gallons just for myself. I doubt I'll have to cook (or blog) anything else all week.

For my Smoked Salmon Bisque you'll need:

12 ounces of Smoked Salmon
1/2 gallon of Milk
3 pints of Heavy Cream
3 cups of White Wine
8 Cloves of Garlic
1 Yellow Onion
1 Sweet Onion
8-12 Stalks of Celery 
2 pounds of Red Potatoes
1 pound of Purple Potatoes
1 cup of Vegetable Oil
10 Sprigs of Thyme
4 Sprigs of Rosemary
Salt, Pepper, and Cayenne Pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan and Bread for plating

Here's an introduction to our ingredients:

Tomorrow we'll get cooking!


Decorating for Two: Can't Deny We Have Chemistry

"Decorating for Two" has been such an amusing (and enlightening) exploration- I've decided to make it a running feature here at Shock the Bourgeois. I'll be posting items and trends that Adam and I agree on for our shared space. Actually, I'm going to post the things we don't agree on as well, so that you can gang up on Adam in the comments and bully him into seeing things my way. Because I'm always right.

Can you believe Adam was willing to undertake this project? You know those boyfriends who, laden with purchases, patiently shadow their lady as she shops- dully offering the occasional, "yeah, you look really thin in that." Boy does Adam make them look like jerks. I asked him to participate in my favorite activity, and he didn't grumble or give me any half-assed "I dunno" replies. He engaged in design debate, gave me honest assessments, and invested a ton of time. What a catch he is.

Here's a theme that I'm mixing into our design solution in honor of Adam, the Biochemist and KitchenChemist...

Image Courtesy of AT

Image Credit Unknown

Image Courtesy of AT

Image Credit Unknown

Image Courtesy of Liz Demos, Design*Sponge

Image Credit Unknown

My hypothesis: our apartment is going to yield great happiness with the addition of these laboratory-inspired elements. We've got a good thing going, boyfriend. It's SCIENCE!


Seattle Favorite: Pat Gallagher's Sculptural Lighting

When you're young, broke, and living in a standard-sized (read: miniscule) apartment, art can be the last thing on your mind. Original art works are pricey, and it's hard to justify buying sculpture if there's no place to put it without bumping into it. That's why I like to seek out pieces that unite form and function, like these light fixtures by Seattle artist Pat Gallagher. After all, you can always use another lamp- especially one with a delightfully steampunk aesthetic that makes you want to brood in the amber glow of its Edison bulb and invent a time machine...

Images Courtesy of Pat Gallagher

Each fixture is completely one-of-a-kind, an amalgamation of found industrial objects infused with new utility. They are forward-thinking ingenuity (the epitome of green design) under the guise of historical permanence. This is exactly the kind of art that Adam and I can agree on- I admire the grace of their curving forms, he'd pick one up and admire how dang heavy these things are! And did I mention that the lamps are extremely affordably priced? We're talking "snap one up for Christmas and still have change jingling in your pocket" prices...

For more information about Pat Gallagher's art, be sure to stop by his website. Better yet, check out his pieces for yourself- Mr. Gallagher will also be selling his sculpture and photography at the Pratt Holiday Art Sale, and you can see new work on display at Avanti Art & Design at the Greenwood-Phinney Art Walk tomorrow!


Decorating for Two: Battle of the Sexes

You live with someone for four years, you think you know them, and then one day the truth comes out: they have a design aesthetic, and it's not quite the same as yours.  

The fact that Adam has his own taste is a shocking revelation for me. Call me oblivious, but all these years he's never voiced an opinion! It's amazing how the give and take of a relationship works- he gave me total sovereignty over our shared abode, I pretended to enjoy watching televised poker tournaments (sorry to finally break it to you, Adam). Those days are over though. From now on we're going to be watching a lot more Project Runway and Adam's been promoted to design consultant.

Last night we held design summit with the help of Skype screen sharing, and Adam worked on his visual vocabulary. And boy, did he ever. He had a lot to say- both about what he likes, and what I like (that he doesn't). I may have created a monster, but I asked for it (and I probably had this coming after I threw away his Bob Marley and Scarface posters).

He responded to this bedroom immediately- the stormy walls, the majestic dark wood bed, the fireplace. He even knew what style of chandelier that was (making me look like a total fool). I was intimidated by this pick, as it seems more formal than our budget and pocket apartment can provide. What I have to learn from this is that I do need to decorate to accommodate my 6'7" fellow, and that I should think twice before painting over wood furniture.

Image Source Unknown

We were in complete agreement about these two rooms.  He liked the wood floors and architectural details, I am very into that table and chandelier. Very.

Images Courtesy of Unknown, Anna Wolf via Dwellings & Decor

These are a couple of my favorites that he stuck up his nose at (I saw you Adam, video chat!).  He hates having furniture floating in the room like this round table, instead preferring to have everything anchored to a wall.  As for the second image (the one that's been on my Berkeley apartment mood board)... the color scheme was vetoed firmly.  Good thing I hadn't bought any lavender paint yet, argh!

Images Credits Unknown

Adam had very strong notions about organizing- stacked and visible. In Adam's world if you put something in a cabinet and close the door... it no longer exists (which makes hiding Christmas presents a snap in our household). He repeatedly pointed out neat images of kitchens and craft rooms with open shelving, many of which had a sophisticated mercantile feel.

I'm all over this, as long as we pick out beautiful furniture and showcase our things in a pleasing way!

Images Credits Unknown

Conceptually, we both love this first image. In real life, we have neither the private property or the self-confidence for a bathroom like that! Thinking more practically, Adam chose images of bathrooms with deep double sinks, large and tall mirrors, exposed pipes, basket storage, and patterned hex tile flooring. That's my kinda man!

Image Credits Unknown

Adam shares my love of curiosities, but we didn't see eye to eye when it came to display. While I prefer a more naturally staged approach (like Mr. Puffin there), Adam liked seeing the objects laid out in the glass case. I guess that's a scientist for you.

Image Courtesy of Spagat, AT

Remember this stunning loft that I mentioned yesterday? He liked it too- except for the drapes, calling them "too feminine." I'm in disbelief here. I suppose he's not a fan of these either?

Image Courtesy of Loft Life Blog

Many of my favorite homes have a fairy tale quality to them. Stone buildings with peaked roofs, all swallowed up in vines. Mazes of nooks furnished with mismatched antiques, and lots to be discovered. It was a dream come true that Adam picked out these images as HIS favorites as well! He didn't even bat an eye at the floral mural in that odd green room, acknowledging that it just added to the charm.

Image Credits Unknown

One of the most important design decisions we'll make together will be about how to store and display our rather large library. I'm afraid this could be a point of contention. Adam liked grid shelving, pointing out every room with an Expedit unit (very subtle hint, boyfriend). He noted how this bookcase made from crates combined rustic and geometric elements that he favored. On the other hand, I prefer floor to ceiling bookcases with a little more drama... 

Images Courtesy of Unknown, Domino Magazine

This is a very broad and eclectic spread- it's going to be fun to help him narrow down his vision and start blending it with mine! I'm envisioning a major decor purge as soon as I move. Perhaps he'll wish he'd kept his mouth shut when I've turned the house upside down? Heh heh.

What do you all think of Adam's first dip into the image pool? Is this something you'd consider doing with your partner or spouse? Any design professionals out there who want to chime in? I'd love to know how you help your clients define their personal style- your techniques might come in handy here!