Friday Things: The Fancy Craft Show Edition

As you’ll know from previous posts, I’m a big fan of the American Craft Council San Francisco show held every August at Fort Mason. The ACCSF show is much like a grown up “back-to-school” shopping excursion for me where I go to see what’s new in handcrafted jewelry, clothing and home furnishings.   I popped into this year’s show this morning and thought I’d share some highlights for any of you local readers thinking about attending this weekend.

For the past few years, the show producers have presented four home decor vignettes featuring items that can be purchased at the show (helpful, since some of these craft items are so unique it’s hard to see how they’d work in a space.)  This year’s  theme  was “4 Directions” so there were vignettes depicting North, South, East and West.

Above you’ll see the elegant North vignette designed by L.A. designer Leslie Shapiro Joyal who used the Northern California coast as her inspiration and featured rock sculptures by Gerald Arrington and witty lamps by Will Richards as well as her own Cocoon Bed.  ”Though I’m from L.A., I really tried to capture the Northern California vibe in this room,” says  Joyal. Some of you may know Joyal from Ellen DeGeneres’s “Design Challenge.”

The West vignette was designed by Alden Miller Interiors and inspired by a California beach sunset.  I loved the cozy beach shack feeling of the room and found the whimsical octopus sculpture by Evan Chambers charming.

Some other favorite home decor things included:

Tiles, vases and dinnerware patterned with traditional motifs in a sophisticated neutral palette by Petaluma potter Forrest Lesch-Middleton

Handwoven wool blankets  from Dianne Nordt of Virginia’s  Nordt Family Farm

And indigo-dyed pillows from Berkeley-based textile artist Jenny Fong of Modern Shibori

As always, I came away with some one-of-a-kind items for my home and names of designers I’ll be tracking in the future.  The ACCSF show runs through Sunday. If you live in the Bay Area and would like to attend, you can find out more here.

Happy Weekend All!

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Friday Things: The Hillary Edition

The day after Hillary Clinton became the first woman nominated for president by a major political party finds me a bit groggy.  I didn’t sit down to watch last night’s convention coverage until 10:00 p.m. And by the time I’d sampled Katy Perry’s Fight Song and David Brooks’s fighting words (something to the effect that HRC would do better if she sounded less ambitious), it was nearly midnight before Hillary showed up on my screen. Though I was tempted to call it a night, I couldn’t turn in without seeing history in the making.

Until this campaign I was neither a Hilary fan nor a Hilary hater.  I knew she was smart and well-qualified for the job but her speaking style left me cold. I generally agreed with what she had to say but wished there was a little more poetry in her prose.  I didn’t think she was as duplicitous as her enemies claimed nor as angelic as last night’s white power suit might have suggested.

But I’ve spent a lot of time in recent years immersed in women’s history and I can’t help but be elated that a woman really could be the next president of the United States.  And not just a woman but this woman.  Her intelligence, her experience and her tenacity have won me over.  When she said that she was—“happy for grandmothers and little girls and everyone in between.  Happy for boys and men, too—because when any barrier falls in America, for anyone, it clears the way for everyone”— it didn’t sound like political claptrap to me.  I’m happy that barrier has fallen.  I’m happy she’s still standing on the other side.  Happy to be “with her.”  And happy to be a woman in America—albeit a sleepy one.

Here are a few other history-making Hillary things I’m happy about.

Dominique Browning on Hillary.

Some historical precedent for Hillary’s white suit.

This video that salutes Hillary’s mother and other heroines.

Happy Weekend All!

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Friday Things: The Tonys Edition

Just a quick note before the Warrior’s game begins. Game 4 is tonight and I’m hoping the Warriors are back to form after the blow-out on Wednesday. We’ll be spending more time than usual this weekend watching televised events with the game tonight and the Tonys on Sunday.  Since I happened to see three (!) of the nominated plays this year–a perk of having a child living in Manhattan–I thought I’d give a quick run down of what I saw when I wasn’t seeing “Hamilton.”

We saw “The View from the Bridge” last fall and it was as chilling as advertised.  The spare stage and visceral acting kept us riveted and the shocking conclusion made for one of my most memorable evenings at the theater. Mark Strong was terrific as the controlling dockworker uncle and I’m hoping he’ll take home a Tony.

“View from the Bridge” was directed by Belgian director Ivo van Hove as was a revival of “The Crucible” featuring Saoirse Ronan.  We caught “The Crucible” a few weeks ago and though I wasn’t quite as taken with it as “Bridge,” it’s certainly stuck with me. Sophie Okonedo was powerful as the wrongly accused Elizabeth Proctor.  Rooting for her too.

On a lighter (sweeter?) note, I took in a matinee of “Waitress” and found it poignant and charming, though I quibbled with the girl power ending. Though it won’t get much love at this year’s Tonys given that it’s going up against “Hamilton,” I suspect it will tour and I’d recommend it.  (In the meantime you can watch the Keri Russell movie version of Waitress.)

Did you see any nominated shows on Broadway this year?  If so, who and what do you hope bring home a Tony Sunday night?

Here are a few other Broadway related things I recommend this week:

Theater and social media humor.

And if you haven’t seen the James Cordon Broadway Carpool Karaoke yet–here you go!

Happy Weekend All!

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Friday Things: The Rise and Shine Edition

Because two friends I walk with in the early morning have been out of town for the past few weeks—summer travel has begun!—I’ve switched up my morning exercise routine by taking more yoga classes at the swim club down the road. Not entirely awake I stumble over to the sound of bird-song and the rhythmic splash of swimmers doing their laps.   In the winter a fog-shrouded sun rises in the east behind the yoga instructor, but now we turn our mats south to avoid being blinded by the fully exposed orb.  Post-namaste I spend time in the garden dead-heading daisies and supplementing the irrigation with a little hand-watering now that the drought restrictions have been (temporarily) lifted.  The lizards scatter and the hummingbirds come in for a sip. Such a lovely way to start my day. Has your daily routine changed much now that summer is here?

 Here are some other things I’ve enjoyed of late.

 A wonderful Career Code profile of our daughter Claire over at WhoWhatWear.

Dress codes for travel (while you’re there, check out the travel uniforms videos at the bottom of the article).

The corrective lenses of travel. 

Maybe you have more time than you think.

To write software, read novels.

Despite all the naysayers, life has never been better.

Elizabeth Gilbert on letting our light shine.

A pretty bar cookie featuring rhubarb. 

Jumping Jetsons! A revolving planter that levitates! 

A new album from The Monkees – “Good Times.

“I was so full of music I had to play.”—Grandma Lo-Fi

Grandma Lo-fi: The Basement Tapes of Sigrídur Níelsdóttir from Republik Film Productions on Vimeo.

Happy Weekend All!

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A Bridal Shower Using (Mostly) Barefoot Contessa Recipes

My oh my, it’s June already.  As Chaucer would say, Summer is A-Comin In!  This is one of my favorite times to entertain since the weather is good and the longer days make for a more relaxed gathering.  Plus the produce this time of year is excellent so food prep can be fairly simple. This coming weekend I’m hosting a dinner for twelve visiting religion scholars (sounds like a riddle or a parable, doesn’t it?) and plan on eating out on the deck.  Because I want to be engaged with our company and not tied to the kitchen or grill I’m making most of the food ahead and just assembling and plating it right before my guests arrive.   I’ll likely do a combination of simple salads and a chicken dish that can be served room temperature followed by cupcakes that can be eaten here or on the run since all the guests are participating in a lecture series that night and the speakers especially may need to leave early. Basically, I’m throwing a picnic here at home.

The menu is a variation on a menu for a bridal shower I threw recently for a friend’s daughter.  The numbers were nearly the same and the weather, thankfully, was good enough that we could eat outside.  It was such a fun party that I thought I’d share the recipes here in case you too are planning a summer picnic at your place.

First, I wanted the food to be fool-proof so I turned to the Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa cookbooks for recipes that were simple and reliable.   I started with a mezze platter from “Make It Ahead” that I served alongside the drinks.   All of the components were made or purchased in advance except for the pita bread triangles which were toasted at the last minute.

Then I followed up with a luncheon buffet featuring her Roasted Shrimp and Orzo Salad and Zucchini & Goat Cheese Tart (recipe below.)

The shrimp orzo salad was better for having sat overnight so the flavors could meld.  I doubled the recipe and had plenty of leftovers so I think one batch could easily suffice for a buffet for twelve.  I also made two zucchini tarts which was the right amount for a dozen guests.  The tarts were beautiful and easy to put together but did take a bit of time.  The recipe says the tart can be assembled four hours ahead and then baked for the party.  That’s true but it did take a good hour or so to assemble the two tarts which added some stress to my party prep given that the party started at 11:00 a.m. Note, too, that when Garten says to overlap the zucchini you really need to overlap because the zucchini rounds will shrink significantly when you bake them (see the goat cheese peeking through on the baked tart above.) Despite a bit of fussiness,  they were a focal point for the spread and delicious warm or at room temperature.

Dessert was a lemon angel food cake from Joyce Goldstein’s  “From Our House to Yours: Comfort Food to Give and Share” accompanied by fresh berries and Garten’s recipe for Make-Ahead Whipped Cream (see below.)

The cake is easy to make and can look fancy without you needing to wield a pastry bag.  It does require lemon oil though which is different than lemon extract.  You can buy lemon oil at specialty food shops or it can also be ordered from Sur La Table.

Following Garten’s recommendations for Making a Schedule in advance (see Barefoot Contessa ”Family Style”),  I laid out the week working backwards from the moment guests arrived at my door in order to spread out the prep and enjoy the actual party.  The work was manageable because I didn’t try to shop, cook and serve the food all in one day.  As Garten says “When I have guests coming in five minutes, I don’t want to be cleaning the kitchen or getting some stray molasses out of my hair.”  Because after all, Summer is not only a-comin in, but when it’s Summertime, the livin’ should be Easy.

 

Zucchini & Goat Cheese Tart 

(from Ina Garten’s “Make It Ahead” )

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, 1/2-inch-diced

1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar

5 tablespoons ice water

1 1/2 pounds zucchini, unpeeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick

2 tablespoons good olive oil, divided

8 ounces plain creamy goat cheese, at room temperature

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Place the flour, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and the butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse 12 to 14 times, until the butter is the size of peas.  With the processor running, pour the vinegar and ice water through the feed tube and continue to process and pulse until the dough just comes together.  Dump out on a floured board, form into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the zucchini in a colander set over a plate.  Toss it with 2 teaspoons of salt and set aside for 30 minutes.  Spread the zucchini out on a clean dish towel, roll it up and squeeze gently to remove some of the liquid. Put the zucchini slices into a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. With a fork, mash together the goat cheese, thyme, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and l/4 teaspoon pepper and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  roll the dough out on a floured board to an 11-inch circle and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Spread the dough with the goat cheese mixture, leaving a 1/2 inch border.  Lay the zucchini slices in tightly overlapping circles, starting at the very edge of the pastry (the zucchini will shrink when it bakes).  Continue overlapping circles of zucchini until the whole tart is covered.  Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with pepper.  bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the dough is golden brown.  Cut in wedges and serve hot, war, or at room temperature.

 

Mile High Lemon Angel Food Cake with Lemon Glaze

(from Joyce Goldstein’s “From Our House to Yours: Comfort Food to Give and Share”)

1 cup cake flour (not self-rising) sifted

¾ cup confectioners’ sugar

14 egg whites, at room temperature

1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon pure lemon oil (Williams Sonoma carries this if you can’t find elsewhere)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven.  Have ready an ungreased 10-inch tube pan.

2. Sift the flour and the confectioners’ sugar together into a medium bowl.

3. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed in a large bowl until foamy.  Increase the speed to medium-high, add the cream of tartar and salt, and beat just until the egg whites form soft peaks.  Add the granulated sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition, and beat just until the whites form stiff, glossy peaks.  Add the vanilla and lemon oil and beat until well combined.

4. Sift one-fourth of the flour mixture over the egg whites and fold in with a whisk or a rubber spatula.  Continue gently folding, one quarter at a time, until all the flour mixture has been added, being careful not to over mix.

5. Transfer the batter to the pan. Run a table knife through the batter to remove any large air pockets, and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the cake pulls away from the side of the pan.  Turn the pan upside down, and balance it on its elongated neck or pan legs or hang  the tube upside down from the neck of a tall bottle.  Let cool to room temperature.

6. Turn the pan right side up. Run a knife around the outside edge of the cake and between the cake and the tube. Release the cake.

Lemon Glaze

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 ½ teaspoons grated lemon zest

Pinch of salt

Stir ingredients together in a small bowl.  Let stand for 10 minutes before using. Pour it over the cake and let stand for at least 10 minutes or until the glaze is set.

 

Make-Ahead Whipped Cream 

(from Ina Garten’s “Make It Ahead”)

1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons creme fraiche

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place the cream, confectioners’ sugar, granulated sugar, creme fraiche and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment .  Beat on high speed, until it forms soft peaks.  Serve cold.

Thanks to party guest and photographer Jean Jarvis  for snapping these shots of the bridal shower.

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San Francisco Decorator Showcase 2016

Every time I attend the San Francisco Decorator Showcase I come away inspired by big design concepts and small design details.  My travels have delayed my attendance so far this year, but these photographs by San Francisco photographer David Duncan Livingston make me eager to catch this stunning showcase before it closes on May 30.

I want to take in the spare white elegance of Antonio Martin’s living room design and the curvy details in Martin Kobus’s dining room.

I suspect the muted persimmon and slate blue of the traditional rug laid the foundation for this striking office design by Stephen Jones.

As did the dramatic kelly green and cobalt blue zigzags in Kyle Bunting’s rug for this glam retreat by Nancy Evars and Dimitra Anderson.

But when it comes to color inspiration, who could resist the delicious rainbow sherbet palette of this girls room by Ann Lowengart.  Isn’t that Sol LeWitt-inspired ceiling scrumptious?

On the second floor hallway Livingston is showcasing some of his own fine art photography–including this effervescent image of the Eiffel Tower. “It’s like a birthday sparkler celebrating France and summer,” says Livingston who uses motion blur to give the fine art print a painterly feeling. Because Livingston’s wife is French they often travel with their young son to Paris. “Before I got married I’d visited the City of Light many times as a solo tourist but now when I visit with my family we’ll have lunch with Grandma, see old friends and just hangout between other travels in France. Paris is THE hub for all things French.”

To see more of Livingston’s exceptional work be sure to follow him on instagram @daviddlivingston.  And for details about the SF Decorator Showcase—running through May 30—go to http://decoratorshowcase.org  Hope to see you there!

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Missing Mom

Life took me to the mall yesterday.  Lunch with an old friend and editor.  Birthdays and baby showers to shop for.  Trips on the horizon so a bit of travel shopping for myself.  When I was done with my errands I slipped into a movie theater and caught a late matinee of the Gary Marshall film “Mother’s Day.”  Though the film was irritatingly peripatetic, it did remind me that Julia Roberts is a wonderful actress and it made me wish I was spending this Mother’s Day with my mom.  Mission accomplished Mr. Marshall.

But Mom’s in Idaho with one of my sisters greeting a new great-grand-baby–and walking in a charity race!–so I’ll just have to wait until we begin celebrating her 80th year this summer.   I’m grateful she’s around to miss.   Other friends have lost wives, sisters and mothers this year.  Their moms have gone missing for good.

I don’t know what it’s like to lose your mother yet.  I imagine it’s one of the hardest things we do in this life—even if we don’t get along with our mothers all the time. But my father’s gone now and one thing I’ve learned since his passing is that time has smoothed out the rough edges of our relationship.  The things about him that once irritated me have faded and the best of him has come into focus.  For those of you missing a mother this weekend I’m wishing you the same. Happy Mother’s Day.

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Keeyla Meadows Garden Tour

One of my favorite Bay Area landscape designers is Keeyla Meadows.  I first met Keeyla when I was scouting gardens for a major garden tour that served as a fundraiser for our children’s grade school.  That was twenty-some years ago and over that time I’ve watched her garden evolve from a colorful but simple field of poppies to a complex art installation filled with original artwork and inspirational plantings.  It’s always a treat to visit Keeyla’s garden but especially in the spring.  Fortunately, her garden will be on tour as part of the Garden Conservancy tours twice this year—the first time during the East Bay Open Day on Saturday, April 23 from 10 until 4. Admission for each garden is $7.00. Keeyla’s garden is located at 1137 Stannage in Albany, CA.  I’ll be there enjoying the garden and greeting guests that morning.  Hope to see some of you there!

 

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Friday Things: The Met Home Edition

Long before I started writing for shelter magazines I read them.  And the one I read the most was Metropolitan Home.  When it folded in 2009 it really left a void in my design inspiration library.

Though I loved Dominique Browning’s editor’s note in House & Garden (another print publication casualty of the time),  the designs in Met Home had a more youthful vibe about them.  And they were usually more accessible.  For example, each issue included a “Hi-Lo” feature that showed how the style of a particular $10,000 sofa might be interpreted for $3000.  (The Lo examples were never THAT cheap, but they were at least available to the public.)

I was therefore delighted to read about Met Home’s impending resurrection. I hope I’m one of the “select Hearst subscribers” who receives a copy next week.  If not, I’ll be certain to track it down on the newsstand.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to page through Elle Decor, House Beautiful (formerly edited by Newell Turner who is at the helm of the new Metropolitan Home) and—my current favorite—World of Interiors.  How about you?  Do print publications still show up in your mailbox?  Or have you moved entirely to browsing digital images for design inspiration?

Here are some other things that caught my attention this week:

The Pope advocating for more mercy, less judgment.

Twitching through Meditation.

Some reasons for taking a weekly tech sabbath (podcast).

A light-filled studio for a fiber artist.

The “Now” Not-A-Watch.

A pretty cauliflower soup.

“Buttony” – a brilliant little short story featuring a childhood game I used to play.

Melissa McCarthy performing Colors of the Wind. (Fast forward to minute 6:00)

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On Wearing Religious Jewelry

For years now I’ve thought about buying a cross necklace.  But though I’m a Christian, wearing crosses is not part of my faith tradition.  In fact, growing up—back when Mormons were feuding with Catholics—I was told that Mormons did not wear crosses.  That we emphasized Christ’s resurrection not his crucifixion and that wearing one would be something pretty close to a sin.

What my people did wear were CTR rings.  CTR stands for Choose The Right and just before you were baptized at age eight you were given a little ring with an adjustable one-size-fits all band topped with a miniature shield emblazoned with the letters CTR.  The band was a little pinchy and the metal eventually turned your finger the same green as the enameled shield.  I’m not sure what happened to mine.  But I do know that by the time my kids were old enough to wear CTR rings you could buy nicer versions that were made of silver with a solid band in specific sizes.  One daughter wore hers up through high school.

My impression is that many Catholics wear a cross necklace throughout their lives—that it’s the one piece of jewelry they wear consistently.  I wasn’t looking for that.  I can’t even commit to an Apple Watch (and my son now designs for Apple!) because I like to change things up regularly.  But I wouldn’t mind wearing a cross now and then.  And wearing one at Easter seems particularly appealing.

So today—Good Friday—I decided to buy my first cross necklace.  I went to Sagrada—a lovely little “sacred arts” bookstore in the hip Temescal neighborhood of Oakland—and considered a number of options.  There were ornate medieval crosses (too fussy), bedazzled crosses (too glitzy),  and crosses made out of Fimo clay beads (too funky).  I lingered at the First Communion crosses since they were the simplest but they also seemed too small and delicate for grown-up me.

Ultimately I ended up with this mosaic cross.  After seeing a photo of it my San Antonio sister said I’d fit right in in Texas.  I actually thought it looked less Tex-Mex and more Viennese Secessionist a la Klimt.  (Though his art was often collected by Jewish patrons, Klimt was Catholic so I guess that’s not that far-fetched.)

So why do I want to wear a cross? At least sometimes? Style-wise, I like the classic shape of the cross.  Symbolically, I feel more comfortable than I ever have about being an openly spiritual person who would like to applaud and emulate Christ–someone who always did Choose The Right.

Do you wear any jewelry that has spiritual significance to you? If so, I’d love to hear what you wear and why you wear it.

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Kathryn Pritchett

writes about Things Elemental — where we find shelter, why we connect, what sustains us and how we strut our stuff.

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    • Day 27 | Little 🐦 Fell in love with these little handmade ceramic birds when I first saw them at The Gardener. Thought I wanted a whole flock then decided that two on the entry ledge of our empty nest would be just right. #augustbreak2016