Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sentimental Ornamental

Forget Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Here are a few of my favorite things: Ornaments!

The Bearded Mermaid and The Frog Prince

Ornaments are particularly special because of a holiday tradition I’ve celebrated with my former college roommate for over 30 years. Every year since our college days we’ve done an ornament exchange which has become a yearly family celebration. I’m not talking about the most beautiful or ornate ornaments, I’m talking about the quirky, bizarre, where-the-heck-did-you-find-that? kind of ornaments.

Fancy Hippy Cow and The Old (mer)Maid

Goin' Hog Wild

I am always torn between a beautifully decorated and a sentimental tree. Each year part of me wants a themed and color coordinated tree that makes a design statement. My children, however, love the sentimentality of all the collected ornaments and insist that Christmas wouldn't be the same without them.

The Man from the East and Camel

King Tut and The Sock Monkey

Whatever your style, the ornament exchange is a great way to create memories that will keep you, your family, and friends talking for years to come.
Have some favorite ornaments of your own? Share them with us on our blog or on our facebook page!

Monday, December 13, 2010

DIY: Festive Succulent Arrangements

A big thanks to Ahn-Minh Le for my article in the SF Chronicle Home Section this past Sunday, Dec. 12! If you missed it, here’s a recap on how to make your own succulent arrangements at home!

Step 1: Gather your succulent arrangement components and group them on your workspace for a smooth assembly. I’m using succulents, eucalyptus, pyracantha or holly berries, crabapples, rose hips, and red and white roses and greens.

Step 2: Make your vase. I’ve recycled an aluminum can and used it for my vase. Glue or tape a strip of brown paper around the can and then wrap red ribbon around it, securing it once again with either glue or double-faced tape. Tie it together with a string of raffia for an authentic-handmade look.

Step 3: Assemble the succulent arrangements making sure that the succulents dominate the bouquet. The berries, crabapples, and roses should accent the colors of the succulents, but not draw away from them.

Step 4: Centerpiece. Arrange the bouquets on the table and create your table’s centerpiece. If you have small votive candles, place them on the table near the arrangements but keep them a safe distance away for fire safety. If you can’t have open flames I suggest flameless flickering electric candles. They look great without the fire risk!

To bring everything together, use a small succulent bud and some red ribbon to hold the napkins. This gives the place settings a lovely yet subtle boost of color that ties back into the color themes of the bouquet.

Tip: Because the bouquets are small, don’t feel restricted to just one centerpiece layout. Notice how I’ve arranged them as five separate bouquets running down the center of the table as opposed to the grouped look in the first table setting picture.

Voila! An easy (and resourceful) way of creating a fun table setting for the holidays!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Succulents for the Holidays

I love succulents because of their wide variety of shapes, textures and colors. Succulents are great year round plants to have in the garden. You can pick them and they last for weeks. Cottage Gardens in Petaluma, CA, where I recently hosted a succulent demonstration, has a wide variety of succulents. For more info about visit them at

Here a few arrangements from Veranda Magazine which highlight some of my favorite succulent looks.

In this arrangement there’s a beautiful combination of acid greens and purples playing off each other. Their varying shapes make the arrangement more interesting. Notice the big blooms alongside the smaller feathery ones.

For more contrast, add some succulents with red tones giving it almost a holiday feel. The varying shapes and textures give the arrangement a unique look.

Adding other flowers to the succulents create a unique, one-of-a-kind look and feel for your succulent bouquet. I like the way this arrangement has combined white flowers and other greens.

For the holidays I’ve put together my own arrangements using various colors and shapes of succulents. This year I’m using succulents, red and white roses, pyracantha berries, crabapples, rose hips, and eucalyptus leaves. The green from the succulents give a lush and vibrant look to the arrangements, while the red and white tones from roses, berries, and crabapples contribute lovely holiday accents.

Be sure to check out my upcoming article by Ahn-Minh Le on holiday succulents in the San Francisco Chronicle this Sunday, December 12th. It discusses succulents and how to design your own arrangements with a personalized look and feel.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Flea Market Style

I love visiting the Alameda, California Flea Market on the first Sunday of the month. The atmosphere is festive and communal. I like to go early when there are few people and more wonderful things. Found these adorable Park City, Utah boys, Dustin Rowser and Chris Brady from They travel through France and pick up all kinds of wonderful linen textiles and galvanized finds.

These are 100% linen grain sacks. They come sewn into a sack or woven in a flat panel. The panels with the black stripe are the most rare and desirable. I love them for pillows, upholstery or table runners.

I like these patchwork and stenciled pillows from another booth.

This booth is featured Santos. I love how weathered and worn they are. Sometimes the hands and heads are missing. The were made to be detachable so one could pray with them. They look great in a natural interior or a very modern setting.

Industrial boxes make great storage. In the next photo, a roof turbine was cleverly transformed into a chandelier.

Gears make wonderful wall art. Vary the size and color for interest.

Persimmons in a galvanized bin looked smashing with the weathered table and bright orange legs to match the persimmons. This would be beautiful with pomegranates or lemons.

John Dickinson, one of my favorite truly unique California 60's product designer lives on in this inspired table with plumbing pipes for legs topped with weathered wood and an old leather suitcase

"Flea Fashion" at it's best. Having been a fashion designer for many years, this is a favorite part. I love this! How wonderful it is to see these flea enthusiasts taking the time to stylishly dress for the occasion! It is said that fashion is a couple of years ahead of interiors. Here's to the future.