Springing Forward at Rappaccini's Garden

The necklace I listed last night...

... happens to be the first item from Rappaccini's Garden featured in an Etsy Treasury! 

Doesn't this look like a lovely dream? Thanks to inameliart for including the Draping Foliage Necklace.

I'm back to blogging and back to beading. Rappaccini's Garden soon be bedecked in Spring blossoms- and those who follow on Facebook will always be the first to know when I add an item or trim a price.


Spring Gallery

Last week's visit from a swallowtail butterfly prompted me to add some signs of Spring to my decor, starting with a new gallery wall in my living room.

I've been tweaking my living room for months trying to get it just right. When my workspace was featured in Where We Blog From back in November, my desk occupied the corner by the windows. To make the room more comfortable for my Thanksgiving guests, I rearranged and hung new art (as seen below). 

It was an improvement, but the art looked stale and washed-out to me. Finally, last week I found the solution! The Ikea picture ledges allow me to layer frames for more impact, and their modern lines make my eclectic art collection look more graphic than granny. I also realized that I was using the wrong metallic- doesn't that antiqued gold look warm and rich against my mauvey-gray walls? I'm still waffling on adding more color to my decor, but for now, a little glimpse of blue sky goes a long way!

The cloud painting is a promo postcard from an art gallery, and my set of vintage butterfly prints ($5 on eBay years ago) acknowledge the season. The framed W (for WarLock, of course) is perhaps my cheapest and easiest DIY to date. I picked up the golden letter ornament for $1 at Restoration Hardware, mounted it directly onto the cardboard backer of the Ikea frame, and added a guinea feather for good measure. Under $20, under 20 minutes, and I love it. It ties the colors and textures of other pieces together, and the curved line of the feather balances the arrangement. It also happens to be a preview of the themes I'm using for the wedding... so I get a little "I-can't-wait" thrill every time I look at it!

The last and best addition to the living room is the industrial swing-arm wall lamp, a lucky $30 find at Jeremy's in Berkeley. I'd purchased it for my bedroom, but it did something amazing for this formerly  unlit and unloved corner: it turned it into the coziest nook in the house.

I think I'm finally on to something. Anyone else redecorating this Spring?


300th Post!

Indeed, this is the 300th post on Shock the Bourgeois! I have to type this rather sheepishly, as a blogger who has neglected her readers for two weeks...

From flitting between wedding appointments in rainy Seattle to flickering power in stormy Berkeley, March has blown the blog off course. It's been a productive month for the wedding and my design projects, but today's clear skies and clear schedule were a welcome relief! Finally, time to edit photos and wade through my inbox. To those of you who emailed such sentiments as, "I am having blog withdrawl!  FIX!!!" please allow this to serve as my response: I'm back, I promise!

Yes, the butterfly is real. I found him outside my apartment, unable to fly and looking bedraggled on a particularly wet and fiercely windy morning. I haven't seen any other swallowtail butterflies yet, so perhaps he too was blown off course by this wild Spring weather. I had a Stephen Maturin moment (nerd alert!) and brought him in, where he seemed content to sit on my hand and be photographed. The last picture, however, was all the bug's idea. As unnerving as it was to have a giant insect suddenly decide to climb up my hair and perch, I suppose I can't complain about how it turned out.

Tomorrow I'll be truly back to blogging with an honest-to-goodness decor post: my new naturalist themed art arrangement, as inspired by this butterfly!


Bacon Jam Shortbread

A trip to Seattle always stirs up memories of living, working, and eating there. Mmmmm. Eating there...

Sometimes, at about 11:25 on a Thursday, I'd get an email from Adam containing just a single, magical word. Skillet. Not a question, not a command, an affirmation. At the sight of that word my stomach would begin to growl in anticipation, scarcely able to wait the agonizing half hour until I could bolt out of the office, speed down the hill to Fremont, and join Adam and a crowd of similarly jonesing Seattleites in the line for Skillet Street FoodSkillet hasn't yet parked their gleaming airstream trailer on the streets of Berkeley, and we haven't yet found a local hamburger to rival their mouthwatering combination of grass-fed beef, arugula, cambozola, brioche, and bacon jam. Luckily, we can open up a jar of Bacon Jam anytime we're craving a taste of home.

Bacon Jam is potent stuff. The aroma alone is enough to tempt vegetarians back to the dark side. Packed with Niman Ranch bacon,  onions, and a sweet zing of balsamic vinegar, Bacon Jam is usually the loudest taste on your plate. I wondered how it would do in a more understated role as an ingredient.

My Bacon Jam Shortbread is an elaboration on my basic Savory Shortbread recipe. The essential ingredients are the same: 1/4 cup of grated parmesan, 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt, 1 3/4 cups of flour, and 2 sticks of cubed unsalted butter. I rounded out the recipe with flavors that wouldn't take no nonsense from bossy Bacon Jam.

This shortbread is the condensed version of the ultimate sandwich. A teaspoon each of onion powder, caraway seed, and black pepper with a tablespoon or so of chopped fresh dill replicates the taste of rye bread. Every sandwich needs a slice of cheese, so I used 1/4 cup of finely diced swiss. If you're a mustard fan, why not add a teaspoon of mustard seed? And, of course, you'll need 2 tablespoons of Bacon Jam.

The amount of butter in this recipe is variable due to the oil in the jam, so watch your dough carefully as you're mixing. From there, proceed with my Savory Shortbread directions: roll, chill, chop, bake at 350ยบ for about 15 minutes. Are you wondering why I have no cutely styled final product picture? They didn't last that long.


Inspired Buy

I bought myself a little present, inspired by the delightful "E" I posted earlier this week...

The sculptural, scrolling door grille reminded me of the Iron Floral Cookbook Stand at Wisteria, a pretty thing that I'd long ago put on my wish list. It's an uncanny match, but here's where it really gets weird: the day I bought it, it was 50% off! Meant to be, I think.

It doesn't just prettify my kitchen, it holds the largest of my cookbooks and keeps the pages from getting mussed when I'm trying out a messy new recipe. Just the thing for a aesthete/foodie/bibliophile like myself.

Next week I'll be in Seattle to meet with florists, catch up with my Matron of Honor, and get fitted for my wedding dress! I promise to tweet all about my wedding planning adventures in Seattle, but I've also got a slew of posts in queue, starting with my recipe for Bacon Jam shortbread. You read right, bacon-lovers, Bacon Jam shortbread. Happy weekend!


Dare to Dream: E for Elizabeth

Wouldn't it be nice to put your name on your door, like so?

Photo by Bundscherer on Flickr