A Thread of Color

Something about my apartment is off-kilter. It's all flourish and no structure, as if somewhere in the decorating process I got off on a whimsical tangent and let things get too precious. Have I lost my edge? What a terrifying thought!

Instead of overreacting and doing something rash with black spray paint, I decided it was time to reassess my aesthetic. It's easy to see the common thread in my inspiration images: a neutral background, a mix of fanciful and modern, and a single note of color.

Molly Sims' Kitchen, Source Unknown
Image Source Unknown

What a relief to know that the cure for my design angst may just be a trip to Ikea and some selective editing. This weekend I'm going to pare down to the basics and rethink my palette. What color should I weave in with my neutrals?

PS: Don't the backs of those wooden chairs make you think of scrolling banners? Love them.


Kitchen Chemistry: Stuffed Pork Chops

Between work and projects and chores and wedding planning, Adam and I have had quite a bit on our plates lately. Metaphorically, at least. All too often our dinners have come to us in styrofoam packaging! I decided it was about time I put some real food on the table, so I surprised Adam (and myself, honestly) by creating a pork chop recipe that was not only yes-I'll-take-thirds delicious, but also quick and affordable. Take that, take-out. 


Bright Things for a Gray Day

It's a lucky thing that I've got such an affection for dim, rainy days- because Berkeley has treated me to three in a row. I love an excuse to wear galoshes, or to snuggle up with a cat and listen to the rain. Of course, washed in all of this gray light, my neutral decor and wardrobe could look awfully cheerless. When the weather is somber, I seek out happy counterpoints: my ruffly chartreuse trench coat, peachy lipgloss, pastel ranunculus.

Just as the rain will bring a green crop of clover to my little yard, all of my time spent indoors will bring fresh flowers to my neglected etsy shop! In the meantime, it's time to make room for new blooms at Rappaccini's Garden. I think that this Hot House Specimen ought to be gracing someone's pretty neck this Spring, so I've marked it down by over 20%... isn't that bright news on a gray day?

Happy Friday!


Kitchen Chemistry for Valentine's Day

That's right- we scrapped our plans for the laundromat and made dinner instead! What better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than with some chemistry in the kitchen?

We dashed through the rain to the market, where we found a fabulous deal on salmon fillets. Since stuffed salmon rolls are one of our favorite collaborative recipes, it seemed meant to be! 
We've served dish with several variations (I'm partial to a goat cheese & thyme version that I dreamed up!). This time around we decided to spoil ourselves with a luxe crab & artichoke filling. Adam melted 2 parts cream cheese, 1 part butter, and 1 part cream, then poured it over crabmeat and artichoke hearts. I stirred in a few tablespoons of parmesan cheese, a dash of onion powder, and plenty of salt and pepper. We added the lovely fresh dill we had on hand, but you could use any chopped herb of your choosing. 
A crunchy topping gives the rolls texture. Adam likes to use a mixture of panko bread crumbs and grated parmesan cheese, with a sprinkling of herbs for color and a dash of salt and pepper.
Your rolls are done when they are warmed through. You can test this by pulling out the bamboo skewer and feeling the middle. The crust should be browned, and you can broil it briefly to speed this up.
Stuffed salmon is so incredibly rich, you'll want a light green vegetable as a contrast. We garnished with lemon wedges and continued the theme with a pitcher full of sparkling vodka lemonade. Conversation hearts in our glasses were a sneaky way to sweeten our beverages!

Hope your Valentine's Day was as delicious as ours!


Elizabeth & Adam


Valentine's Day

Exactly one year ago I moved to California, driving over 900 miles to close the distance between Adam and I. Poor Adam endured 15 hours on the road with a carsick cat, then several months with a homesick girl.  It was a grand gesture of love.

We've got nothing planned tonight save a truly romantic date at the laundromat, but I'm grateful for it. Love is so rarely presented in pink and red trappings. Once in a while it appears with a diamond and a question you can answer with exhilarated certainty. Other times it's terrifying, asking more of you than you can imagine giving. Most often though, it shows up in the simple act of pairing someone else's socks.

So for me, this day requires little fuss. I'm reflecting on all of the better and worse we've experienced already, and on how very excited I am to say my vows in October.

Card by Paula Skene Designs

Happy Valentine's Day!




Paper Heart

I'm feeling particularly lovey-dovey this year, what with all the wedding planning going on, so I decided to put together some valentines for family and friends...

Shimmery paper banners, suede hearts, a favorite photo, and simple sentiments. 

Beyond valentines, I'm also designing save-the-date cards and other paper goods for the wedding, which I'll be printing myself with my new Epic 6 letterpress! I told you I was feeling ambitious- I've practically transformed our dining room into a little stationery studio. However, I'll be taking a day off for a romantic drive up to Sausalito with Adam this weekend. It is Valentine's Day, after all!




Saturated in Blue

Last week I left the house with $5.00 in my pocket and the intention of treating myself to something caffeinated and sweet. I got as far as the flower stand, forgot all about Peet's, and came home with a bundle of vibrant blue anemones. The color woke me up in a way that coffee never could!

Indigo is an approachable bright for the color shy (like me!). With a neutral ground, a spark of brilliant blue instantly brightens- and that's just what my living room needs. My limited palette of black and white, soft greige and natural green was peaceful in the Winter months, but looks dull in the Spring light. As these rooms show, all it takes is a touch of blue to recharge and revive.

Image Source Unknown, Solar Stamp Knob from Anthropologie
Sara Ruffin Costello's Dining Room from Domino, via Design*Sponge

A little shock could bring my decor back to life- a stack of blue books, a new pillow, a collection cobalt glass, certainly another cluster of anemones! While I hesitate to drape my apartment in blue, I'm certainly bold enough to rock a blue frock...

Blue Dress, Paris by The Sartorialist
Detail from Marimekko Samovaari Surf Bedding Collection at Crate &Barrel

What colors are you craving this season?


Here & Now: A Study of Matilda

We should have known better than to pick out the cat with a question mark on her face. Matilda insists on doing what she oughtn't, using her considerable cleverness for wicked purposes, and conversing only in sarcastic meows. She is ever the contrarian. But she did very graciously pose for this dignified portrait.


The February Flea

Antiques, football, and an early crop of freckles- I couldn't have asked for a better weekend! Adam and I  spent our Sunday afternoon soaking up sun and inspiration at the Alameda flea market. We didn't spring for anything, but sometimes a long day of looking is all I need to update my vision for our apartment. 

Though the best deals are often found in piles of rubbish, I can't help but admire the more curated booths. This vendor offers silky tassels and ribbons that glitter with gold thread, and the table itself was elegantly trimmed. I could see this crafty-chic sign working just as well as a bulletin board, or to display table assignments at a wedding.

Sometimes going to the flea market feels like a trip to the pound, with so many sad little things needing new homes. It's hard to say no, especially to furry fellows like these! The green-eyed tiger puppet seemed to be begging for hugs, and the wiry fox terrier with the wonky ear... oh, I almost adopted him.

So, no new things, but a head full of new ideas. I'm feeling quite ambitious this year!


Our Cabinet of Curiosities

I blog so often about cabinets of curiosity, it seems only fair to share my own...

Our petite cabinet of curiosities resides in the living room. The cabinet itself was a Craig's List find, purchased for $50 in Seattle, from a very kind woman helping her elderly friend downsize. I was so in love with the uncommon greige finish and elegant shape, I made Adam take an afternoon off to help me load it into a borrowed car, back down a perilous driveway, and inch it up our steep and narrow staircase. When we finally got it inside, I found a booklet full of neatly penned notes comparing bottles of scotch tucked into a drawer. Imagining that this might have been a little old lady's liquor cabinet still makes me giggle!

We've filled it with treasures, valuable for otherwise. Beautiful art books and vintage ephemera mingle  with found objects and natural oddities. Adam's collection of laboratory glassware stands next to 20 years worth of my beach-combing souvenirs. My alligator head grins from the second shelf, with a mouthful of foreign coins. The cabinet is home to items inherently beautiful and sentimental, like my Great-Grandmother's china teacup (or a vial of kitten teeth!)

I papered the back of the cabinet with pages from a tattered old Japanese & English dictionary: yet another layer of meaning for the curious observer.

How do you display your most prized belongings and mementos?