Hello, Monday.

Well, what do you know? Monday's here (again). I have a confession to make: I originally wasn't going to post anything this morning. Sunday is my writing day, and well, it felt like the blog gods were conspiring against me yesterday. I was going to start a new series exploring design points of interest in LA, starting with a cute home shop I follow on Instagram, only to find that the home portion of the store has split off to a new space down the street. If you've ever tried to find parking in Santa Monica on a beautiful Sunday, 2 blocks from the beach, you'll understand why I eventually gave up and went home. Life is too short to spend circling the block for an hour, no matter how cute the store (I will return though!). 

You see, I want this blog to be (insert superlative here… wonderful, divine, supreme would be good places to start). But it's obviously not always, because let's face it, I'm not always-- ever, actually. I'm woefully human. And I'm trying to be okay with that. So rather than fake something on Monday morning, I thought I would share with you a quick little slice of my reality on Monday mornings-- rushing to work, slightly jealous of Miles who works from home and therefore can sleep later than I can (okay, fine, extremely jealous. But I'm not proud of it). So, if you're a little like me-- rush, harried, wondering what you're doing with your life-- this is for you.

Monday morning smoothie (serves 2)

Note: know your blender. This solids to liquid ratio works well for my Vitamix, but if you may be able to get away with less almond milk and therefore, a thicker smoothie. Since I have to blend my smoothies in the bathroom so as to not upset my neighbor, I err on the side of too much liquid so I don't have to bring my almond milk to the potty. 

  • 2 bananas
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries

Combine ingredients in blender, whir, run out the door. I drink mine in the car from a mason jar fitted with a Cuppow. Yes, it's an adult zippy cup, but it makes me happy, and it is stinking precious.

Aaaand now I'm late. Happy Monday, y'all!


Concept boards: Dickens Punk vs. Eton Posh

A few weeks ago at work, I pulled together two furnishing concepts for the presidential suite of an overseas hotel we're designing. While the hotel is based in Asia, there's an Anglophile feel to the property. I created two characters to help me make my design decisions: a "good boy" and "bad boy"-- like Prince William and Prince Harry, if you will, or two classmates at a tony boarding school who went separate directions.  Both schemes have an underlying upperclass British DNA, but the protagonist of the Good Boy is more reserved; he's a financier who plays cricket at the country estate on weekends and holidays on a yacht in the South of France. He's posh, he's Eton, he's a modern day Mr. Darcy. The Bad Boy is a real estate developer with a portfolio full of nightclubs; when he goes on holiday, his yacht docks in Ibiza and is filled with Spanish models. He's the lovechild of Miss Havisham and the Sex Pistols.

Sources: 

Bad Boy: 1. Kinetic Gold Sculptural bracelet | Alexis Bittar (here)-- the starting point for this concept. 2. Seed cloud chandelier | Ochre (here). 3. Fuji side table | Eric Schmitt (here). 4. Wingback chair | Tom Dixon (here). 5. Sofa | Créations Métaphores. 6. Beam rug | The Rug Company (here).

Good Boy: 1. Decanter pendant by Lee Broom (here). 2. Chess stool by Anna Karlin (here). 3. Borealis paddle by Sanborn Canoe (here). 4. Parquetry table by Lee Broom (here). 5. Scratchout plaid rug | Carini Lang (here). 6. Savon Sofa | Joseph Jeup (here).

Ultimately, we nixed both concepts and went in a more neutral and tailored direction, but I thought you would enjoy a little glimpse into my process and the things I do to pay the proverbial bills. What do you guys think? Do you prefer one over the other? Leave your vote in the comments!

On going home.

Yesterday, the Beau and I returned from a too-brief sojourn to South Carolina. How is it that going home is simultaneously so wonderful and so painful? I'm always depressed my first day back in LA after being at home. I can't bring myself to do any of the things I need to do or go the places I thought I wanted to go when we returned, and to add insult to injury, I can't even drown my sorrows in jalapeño pimento cheese, because it doesn't exist here (a fact that makes my father question whether California is, in fact, a third world country). 

I thought I would share with you a few photos from the trip; it was a quiet week filled with family and not much else (except for jalapeño pimento cheese). Throwing the ball for the Bean, catching up with my three year-old nephew, who is very much into Legos and swimming (in his clothes, never in a bathing suit) and very much not into the potty. Three is hard, isn't it? They're like adorable, small terrorists at that age. 

Evening ritual: wine for us, tennis ball for her.

Evening ritual: wine for us, tennis ball for her.

Modeling Aunt Wachel's hat.

Modeling Aunt Wachel's hat.

My new Lego house, designed by Sir James.

My new Lego house, designed by Sir James.

Our last day there, we took the boat out to our favorite shell beach, a sea-turtle nesting area accessible only by boat. We were the only people on the beach, and we ran and chased waves and looked for shells and floated in the empty ocean.

I hope you're all having a wonderful long weekend. Enjoy the short week!

Boat drinks

This past Friday, I wrapped up a big project at work. This particular gig absorbed most of my attention for the last three weeks, nights and weekends included, leaving little time and energy for anything more taxing than young adult fantasy novels once the work day was over (looking at you, Mortal Instruments…). Unfortunately, this crunch time at work coincided with my parents' annual trip to Maine. Their daily updates of sailing and kayaking made working 12 hour Sundays that much more painful, and I found myself desperately yearning to haul anchor and raise sail. Duty calls, however, and I made do with texted pictures of our boat on her mooring. Isn't she yar?

Where I was in my mind… where I was in reality. 

Where I was in my mind… where I was in reality. 

Since my life is decidedly boat-less, I celebrated finishing this home the second-best way: with a boat drink. Contrary to popular belief, boat drinks can be enjoyed on solid land-- no ship required. This is a slushy version of my mom Maggie's go-to post-sail reward. She mixes rum and pineapple juice over ice, squeezes in a lime, and tops with nutmeg. This takes things a step or two further. (Cue the Jimmy Buffett).

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Rum slushy, serves two

  • (1) 8 oz. can of pineapple juice (if you have the time and patience to juice your own, go for it. I do not.)
  • 1 C. frozen pineapple chunks
  • 4 oz. rum
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 6-7 ice cubes
  • nutmeg
  • lime sparkling water (optional)

Blend the juices, fruit, rum, and ice cubes until well blended.  At this point, you have two options: pour into glasses, top with a little sparkling water and a shake or two of nutmeg, and enjoy. Second option, equally good, but requiring more patience: transfer to a jar and freeze for approximately 2 hours, or until slushy. Shake shake shake, stirring with a  fork to break up the ice crystals if necessary. Serve straight up and revel in the glory of your late summer rum slushy. 

Friday Five: 08.08.2014

We. Did. It. Another week in the bag, folks. Pat yourself on the back.

  • We went to Cinespia last weekend to watch Casablanca and it RAINED. Rain. Wet drops from the sky. In LOS ANGELES. Such a special evening-- watching Bogie put Ingrid Bergman on that plane in the rain was particularly poetic. For those of you outside LA, Cinespia is a summer movie series in an old cemetery in Hollywood. You bring a picnic, camp out on a large lawn, and they project the movie on the side of a mausoleum. Only in LA, right?

 

  • The Civil Wars broke up. DON'T THEY KNOW I'M ALREADY HAVING A HARD WEEK? Seriously, though, I'm devastated. Their music tugs on that spot in my displaced Southern heart that yearns for home.
photo source: J.Crew

photo source: J.Crew

Image source: Poketo

Image source: Poketo

Alright, I'm off to work-- have a great weekend everyone!

PS. I originally posted this with just four points… did I mention I'm having a tough week?? So if you saw it when it was the Friday Four… my bad. Let's have a laugh, shall we?? Okay, good. It's Friday!

New loom!

From the moment I finished my first weaving, I started dreaming of a bigger loom (confession: I have a tendency to get a little ahead of myself). I love the portability of my first loom, but the finished product is so petite. I knew these big ol' dreams of mine would need something a bit larger. And seeing how my unofficial motto is "I bet I can make that…", you can imagine what came next:

Ha! Okay, so that's not exactly what came next. This is a little more accurate:

As you can see, I had some help. Miles is measured and rational, while I am Whim Incarnate, so it was good to have someone there to make sure I didn't get excited and start cutting without measuring, etc, etc. It was also very helpful to have another set of hands. Miles cut one half with the jigsaw, and I cut the other with the Dremel. You'll never guess whose half turned out better (if you said me, I'm beyond flattered, but you'd be mistaken). 

So all in all, while it was no small amount of effort, I found it incredibly satisfying to make my own loom and would definitely do so again. This guy is so big, the only place I can work is at the dining table, but because it can pop apart, I'm thinking of making some different sized pieces-- a mix and match loom, if you will. 

Happy Monday, y'all!


Weaving #3 & patience.

Well, well, well… looky here. If it isn't WEAVING NUMBER THREE.

Isn't she precious? I feel like I hit some major milestones with this one, both technically and personally. Technically: I achieved major poufage, something I knew I wanted to try. I was pretty sure I knew what knots to use, but I had doubts that it would turn out like I was imagining. Guess what? It turned out exactly like I imagined, if not better. Silly doubter, I am. Second technically: I managed to keep the sides fairly straight. Zig-zagging sides is a sure sign of a weaving novice, and although I may be one of those, I don't want everyone to know it (except for you guys. But we're friends, so I don't mind telling you the truth.).

Personally: approximately 90% of the time I was weaving this, I was pretty sure I hated it. I was so mean to myself. Uffffff, it's so boring. Bleah, that's not proportional. Why did I make that fringe so tiny? What a waste. Etc. etc. It's no wonder it took me a month to finish this little tiny guy. But I saw it through to the end, and when it was finished, I realized something: those endless rows of plain weaving (over, under, over, under… to infinity) helped make me a better weaver. Instead of concentrating on what TOTALLY SWEET DESIGN MOVE i was going to make next, I focused on my tension and technique, and that's why my edges were straight. Gold star, me (in retrospect). In the end, though, I realized that there really was an aspect that I really wasn't crazy about-- the tiny fringe at the bottom (seriously, what was I thinking? Small fringe? Am I small fringe kind of person?? No, of course not!). Rather than leave it and have the final product be something that made me cringe every time I saw it, I took the time to redo that portion. I deconstructed the bottom rows, wove them upside down, then turned everything right side up again. Voila. Extra fringe; and if I hadn't just spent a paragraph explaining that it had been a mistake, you never would have known. 

I have a tendency to be impatient. I love making things, but sometimes there's a point where I just want it be DONE so I can have the sense of accomplishment from finishing. Often, however, because I've rushed through the process to get to that point, the final product is not something I'm proud of. This isn't one of my favorite qualities about myself, so I'm congratulating myself for doing it differently this time. 

Can we talk about something I really love about this weaving? I'm quite enamored of the pouf. It's made from torn strips of hand-dyed fabric that (SURPRISE) didn't turn out like I had planned. Chandler had been using a piece of that fabric as a personal cat-sized blankie when it occurred to me that it could be incorporated into the weaving. Actually, weaving scraps of fabric into tapestries or blankets has a long history in the South Carolina Lowcountry, where I'm from. On the islands around Charleston, Gullah ladies would weave scraps of old shirts through the holes in burlap using a nail, creating a colorful tapestry known as a Gullah rag quilt. This little pouf is my small homage to that tradition.

Thanks, y'all!



Roasted plum & peach popsicles.

It feels like I might be a touch late to the popsicle craze. Last summer, my Pinterest feed was 90% popsicles, but I was living in an apartment with 4 guys and one tiny freezer, so freezing up a batch of Blueberry and Moonshine popsicles wasn't really going to happen (and let's be honest, I was a little afraid of that freezer. There were things in there that were absolutely unidentifiable. Just fuzzy, icy clumps. It was terrifying). 

But this summer, the beau and the boys and I are nicely set up, with a normal sized freezer in which I know exactly what everything is (mostly), and it seemed like maybe it was time to address my popsicle dreams. Last weekend I rode my bike Violet (Some of you have met Violet on Instagram) to the farmers market and hauled home 10 pounds of plums and peaches in my basket and backpack, so I decided a good stone fruit popsicle was just what the doctor ordered... that, and the fact that it's kind of hard to eat 10 pounds of plums in a week, and they were starting to go rogue. Popsicle fruit does not need to pretty, so if you've got some stragglers from last week's farmers market, this is the recipe for you!

 

ROASTED PLUM POPSICLES

makes 8

You'll need:

  • 5-6 plums or peaches (5 large peaches gave me 2.5 cups of puree, which in turn made 8 popsicles… You could always do more, and then stir the leftover puree into ice cream, or your morning oatmeal… or just eat it with a spoon because it's that good.)
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1/2 C. water
  • popsicle mold (I have this one)
  • popsicle sticks (found at Amazon or your local craft store)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the fruit in half, remove the pits, and roast, cut side down, for 20-40 minutes or until the fruit gives when poked (very scientific, as usual). While the fruit is roasting, make a simple syrup by boiling the water and then dissolving the sugar in it (this makes WAY more than you'll need, but it will keep in the fridge for your next batch).

When the fruit is soft, remove from the oven, cool slightly, and transfer fruit and accumulated juices to the blender. Whir up until your desired consistency is reached (I like a few chunks of fruit myself, but who's to say that you might not what a smoother pop? Go your own way, I say). Add a tablespoon or two of the simple syrup (depending on how sweet your fruit was to start) and mix well. Pour the fruit puree into the popsicle mold, taking care to leave a little room for expansion at the top. If your mold has a lid with stick slots, feel free to put that sucker on now, insert the sticks, leaving approximately 1.5" of stick visible; if not, freeze the pops for an hour, then insert the sticks. 

Depending on your freezer, your little frozen delights should be ready in 4-6 hours; I like to store mine in little snack-sized zip-top plastic bags.

Enjoy!

designlovefest weaving workshop

A few weeks ago, I was parked on the couch, perusing the interwebs with a glass of wine in hand (a.k.a. a typical weeknight). I resigned myself to the odious task of deleting my emails (I might receive 80 emails a day, and it's a miracle if one of them is personal. Swipe, delete. Swipe, delete. Swipe, delete. And on, and on, and on…). On this particular night, however, one of them caught my eye-- "designlovefest weaving workshop!" it cried. My interest piqued, I opened it as quickly as my fingers could tap. Bri Emery of designlovefest was bringing in the textile artist Maryanne Moodie for a half-day workshop on weaving. Without a second's rational thought or a moment's hesitation, I signed up.

Maryanne's weavings on display in the DLF studio

Maryanne's weavings on display in the DLF studio

I first discovered Maryanne's work through designlovefest's Instagram feed. Knowing what you do about my love of fibers and decorative knots (swoon), Maryanne's work was right up my alley-- a celebration of materials and full of life. And pretty-- so pretty!

Weaving kits + s'mores cupcakes. Heaven.

Weaving kits + s'mores cupcakes. Heaven.

As it turns out, Maryanne herself is a real treat. Incredibly friendly and engaging, she is also a  generous instructor. She genuinely cheered when we did something well and patiently helped us out of our quagmires and tangles when things went awry. And while we practiced, she walked around the room and poured champagne. I mean, what more could you want in an instructor?? 

Props to Bri for bringing Maryanne to LA and pulling the workshop together. She hosts events like these on a regular basis, but this was the first that I've attended. I left her studio on Monday evening feeling like I'd discovered a new community of amazing, interesting people who shared my interests, and it felt so fulfilling. Of the thirty or so women in the room, only two of them came with a friend; everyone else signed up, like myself, not knowing a soul, and I thought that was especially inspiring. Maryanne also emphasized our newfound community; more than once she said about weaving, "This is our thing now, all of us. This is something we share." 

Rya knots, in progress

Rya knots, in progress

Yours truly + Maryanne. Isn't she the cutest?

Yours truly + Maryanne. Isn't she the cutest?

And y'all. Weaving is great. I think it's my new thing. I have a reputation of being a hobby collector (I like to think that a lot of creative people fit this description… anyone? yes?), but I think this one will stick. I love working with fibers, but knitting was never really my cup of tea. But weaving? Weaving I adore. I'm by no means great at it (YET. I will be though, mark my words. I will persevere!), but this is one craft that I enjoy the process as much as the outcome, and that's a good thing. So, my apologies in advance, but I suspect you'll be seeing a lot more fibers on this blog in future. You don't mind right?? Great! I didn't think so. xoxo.

Surf-inspired interiors

Last weekend, the Beau and I got up early and did a little paddle boarding. You see, I love to paddle board; we first did it on our honeymoon in Lanai, and it's been a favorite pastime ever since. You can surf waves, tour around ogling oceanfront property, or just float around on the board and enjoy the peace that comes from being out on the water.

So how about some surf-inspired interiors?

(well, well, well… what do we have here? Decorative knots, you say? What a surprise! No decorative knot fans around here. Nope. None.)

What I love about these spaces is that they're texturally rich, monochromatic, and serene-- they remind me being out on the water early in the morning, when everything is a little gray and foggy and soft. Also, I swoon for this print by Max Wanger-- I'd like to get it for Miles. He doesn't have a lot of (read: any) interior design desires, but I think he'd really appreciate this piece. But then again, who wouldn't?

Happy Mother's Day.

The more I know about this world, the more deeply appreciative I am to have the family God gave me. I had an incredibly fortunate upbringing, no small thanks to this wonderful woman. She has always been my biggest supporter, my voice of reason (even when said reason is unwelcome by its intended recipient…), and my best friend. 

photo by LaCour Photography

photo by LaCour Photography

Who remembers Take Your Daughter to Work Day? Well, when I was 10 or so, I was pretty disappointed that I was going to be the only sucker in school on that random Wednesday because my mom "didn't work;" if I recall, there was lots of whining about "not fair," etc. etc. My mother, fairly miffed that what she did day in and day out was not considered work, informed my teachers that I would be shadowing her at "work" that day. My young self interpreted this as mom-sanctioned hooky. Nancy Drews! Coca-cola at lunch! Hot dog! My mother, however, had other intentions. I went to every meeting, ran every errand, paid bills, sat with the dog at the vet-- if she did it, I did it that day, and I was not allowed to bring along a book (I went EVERYWHERE with a book as a kid. Everywhere.). My lesson was thoroughly learned that day; raising children and running a family is hard work, and often thankless work at that. 

While I hope I express my appreciation every day, I certainly want to do it (publicly, at least) today. I would not be the person I am without you, Mama. You are so wonderful-- thank you for being so wonderful at your job.

Did I mention she was our Girl Scout troop leader? Troop 224 forever!

Did I mention she was our Girl Scout troop leader? Troop 224 forever!

On location: patterned floors at the Getty Villa

My parents, the inimitable Doc and Maggie, came to visit Miles and me (and the boys) at the end of March. It was a great long weekend, filled with good food, relaxing, and a small earthquake. We took an outing to the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, a 1970's era replica of a first century Roman villa built by J. Paul Getty. If you're in the area, it is certainly worth a visit; the architecture, art, and grounds are all phenomenal. One of my favorite details of the museum were the patterned floors-- each gallery had a different marble pattern, many of which were directly modeled from the original villa, and some of which were made with salvaged ancient Roman marble. 

In fact, we saw patterned floors all over town that weekend. This was in a bathroom of a French restaurant downtown:

Patterned floors can create stunning impact, but they're not for the weak of heart. Case in point: Kelly Wearstler's Bel Air home.

Image source: Architectural Digest

Image source: Architectural Digest

For a more subtle approach, how about these cement tiles which overlay two layers of pattern information while still remaining fairly muted: the tips of the hexagon are tinted in a contrasting color, which are then aligned to create an overall striped effect. We have a few samples of these tiles floating around the office, and they're gorgeous. Somehow they manage to create a watercolor look with pigmented cement, and the results are beautiful. 

Image source here

Image source here

So what's under your feet? xo, Rachel

April Book Club

Better late than never, right? Without further ado (after all, we've already had 13 days of ado), I present to you April's Book Club selection: Print Workshop, by Christine Schmidt of Yellow Owl Workshop

 Back in the days of Rachel's Sparrow, I started experimenting with printmaking. My gateway drug to printmaking was stamping-- an easy way to start learning the ins and outs of applying ink, carving blocks, composition, etc. I quickly tired of store bought stamps (how plebeian!). Fortuitously, around that same time I came across Yellow Owl Workshop and was introduced to the idea of hand-carving my own stamps. Christine Schmidt, the company's founder and chief artiste, has an incredibly unique illustrative hand that gives her work such personality… there's an element of whimsy to it all, but cool whimsy, not twee whimsy (there's a difference, you know.). Print Workshop offers insight into the printmaking techniques that make Yellow Owl Workshop so popular. I devoured this book during graduate school, but it wasn't until recently that I actually had a chance to make some of the projects from it.

My first project: an image transfer print using Sheer Heaven paper. I used this technique at Christmas to add a photograph to a screen print I made my mother. It was well received, and I began to experiment with different sized prints and framing. Our good friends moved to Las Vegas last week, and as a goodbye present, I made a print of a photo I took one night when we were all together (the photos is of a sunset over the Hollywood Forever cemetery, where we were watching Aliens… if you haven't seen Aliens in a cemetery, you're missing out. But I digress.). I embroidered  stars over the corner to give it a little something extra. I was pleased with how it turned out, and now my sketchbook is overflowing with expansions on this mixed media idea. I'm looking forward to trying this with different scaled prints and embroidery, and perhaps bringing silkscreening back into it. I like the juxtaposition of screen printing, because by its very nature, screen printing should produce a run of prints that are exactly the same (or close to it), but image transfers are a little harder to control. Anyway, I hope I'll have more of these to share with you in the near future, and three cheers for Yellow Owl Workshop for sharing their secrets with us little folk. It's a great book!