"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
_ William Morris
, 19th century craftsman, designer, writer

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Pintest: Summer Sangria

It struck me recently as I was pinning like a woman possessed on Pinterest (which, really, is there any other way?) that I should actually do some of these creative, amazing, bucket-list things...go to the exotic locales, try the organizing tips, make the crafts, whip up those mouth watering recipes, mix the drinks!

What a concept: make the virtual a reality.
Better yet, blog about it!

Introducing: Pintest! A new column for This American Home that takes the pins off the boards and into real life. A place for road testing the recipes, DIY ideas, decorating tips, restaurants, shops --and if I win the lottery, check out those exotic destinations I pin to boards called "Escape" and "See Worthy".

A few nights ago, when I was looking for a fun way to celebrate the Summer Solstice (really!) I decided to try my first official Pintest: Summer Sangria.

The pin that captured my interest (photo by Jaymi Heimbuch Photos for the Gramercy Blog). Mmmmm...

According to the caption it sounded easy and fabulous. Two of my favorite things!

When I clicked through on the pin to get to the original source, the Gramercy Fine Linens & Furnishings blog, the recipe was different than I had expected: The original recipe was for Raspberry and Serrano Sangria.

I decided to alter the sangria slightly -which I think is still within the rules of a Pintest since life is really all about personalization --and I can report the results are pefectly pin-worthy!

Do try this at home! 

Summer Sangria

1 small carton of raspberries 
(it also called for Strawberries, which I didn't have, but I think they would make a marvelous addition!)
1 lime 
2 apples, Granny Smith and a Braeburn 
1 bottle of Pinot Grigio
1/2 cup of white grape juice 
1 can of club soda
Mint leaves for garnish

1. Finely dice both apples (and strawberries if using!), then cut the lime into fairly thick slices.

2. Layer all of the the different fruits in a tall pitcher, adding a dash of sugar in between every layer.

3. After all of the fruit has been layered, add the remaining sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes.

4. Add the wine to the fruit and sugar mixture.

5. Add the white grape fruit juice and top it all off with the club soda. Place in the refrigerator to chill.

6. Once the sangrĂ­a has chilled the bloggers at Gramercy write: "Bust out your favorite wine glasses. I like a lot of fruit in mine so I am not bashful about digging around for more berries." 

7. Garnish the drink with fresh mint and serve.

Follow me on Pinterest (@ BonHome ) --and feel free to suggest a few pins! Tell me your Pinterest name in the comment section below and I will follow you too!

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wednesday Wanderings: Greenhouse Effect

 There is a peacefulness you get when you step inside a greenhouse, and the botanical retreat designed by Dolores Kroop of Padua D.K. Designs for the 2014 Pasadena Designer Showcase House was a lovely example.

The crunch of pea gravel underfoot, the earthy smell of soil and plants, abundant light and in Kroop's case --garden antiques and a number of art projects in progress. Yes, I think I'll go watercolor in the sanctuary of the greenhouse now... 

One of my favorite discoveries while exploring the space was an oversized beekeeper's skep; a vintage-inspired basket once commonly used for honeybees. The bees would swarm in through the hole and set up their hive. A good plan, until it came time to harvest the honey. Then, the beekeepers had to turn the hive over and collect the honey from the bottom -an inefficient system that basically required destroying the hive in the process.

Fun fact: According to the Modern Farmer blog, "Bridal couples in medieval Holland were given a skep to parade around the village as a symbol of starting a new home, and a swarm of bees as a wedding gift."

Although it is illegal to farm honeybees with skeps now, due to the fact you have to be able to open them for inspection and mite prevention --their vintage charm and innate beauty remains. 

I think they're the bees knees!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Field Trip: Ben & Jerry's

 It is a pilgrimmage of the cone heads, a circling of the wagons, a convergence of the tribe -it's the Ben and Jerry's Factory in Waterbury, Vermont --and last summer, we were there. Present and accounted for.

After driving for hours through gently rolling hills, we made it to the mother ship --and we weren't disappointed.
Happy Holsteins grazed out front, peacefully observing the comings and goings of the 300,000 fans who come for the factory tour and stay for the ice cream each year.

Since we arrived late in the day, the tour busses had long departed and we walked past several waiting areas to buy tickets and score an immediate spot on the next tour. 

We browsed the Ben & Jerry's Hall of Fame, checked out the Quality Assurance Lab and overlooked the production area -where cameras are not allowed!

One of my favorite points of interest: The Tasting Room! Where professional taste testers make sure every spoonful is up to snuff and that flavors deserve the blessing of Ben & Jerry's --in addition to their salary, the folks who work in this department also receive a free gym membership and regular cholesterol screening! Dream job.


Another highlight: Every visitor gets to try a free sample of a flavor that is not available in stores! 

Following the 30-minute tour, we walked past a thoughtfully situated children's play area (a welcome sight after a long drive) to visit the Flavor Graveyard where well-intentioned, but poorly performing flavors go to die. Markers for the dearly departed included Miz Jelena's Sweet Potato Pie and are remembered with witty epithets: One Potato, two potato, sweet potato pie. No one could appreciate it, so we had to let it die. 

Sugar Plum: It swirled in our heads, it danced in our dreams; It proved not to be though, the best of ice creams. 

Of course, no tourist attraction would be complete without a gift shop and souvies --of which there were many, think: Tie-dyed t-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, ice cream scoops and appropriately, jars of hot fudge.

Although we appreciate a creative gift shop, this family headed straight for the ice cream line. Waffle cone Sundaes all around.

Summer tours run from 9am-9pm with the last tour starting at 8pm. Tickets are $4 for adults; $3 seniors; and kids 12 and under are free. Visit Monday thru Friday to see the ice cream production in action (on weekends, you will still get the same tour but won't see employees on the manufacturing floor).
Call 866-258-6877 for the most updated info.
And that's the scoop! (Sorry, couldn't resist...) 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Inspired: 3D Wall Panelling

Coolness alert: 3D wall panels!

The design team of Jason Lai and Stephanie Leese of L2 Interiors made the most of hallway walls that might have been easy to overlook at the 2014 Pasadena Designer Showcase House --and inspired me to rethink my idea of "panelling".

Forget the dated dark walls of decades past, these ultra modern, three-dimensional embossed panels made from environmentally friendly, biodegradable material offer a fun new way to play with style.  Smart and good looking. Win-win.

In an estate with more than 8,000 square feet, these designers made a big impression in an itty bitty space. 

Thanks to Lai and Leese's sculptural styling I did a quick Internet search to learn more...I found several resources including Inhabit -featuring cool 3D wall paneling as well as usage and DIY information (InhabitLiving.com). Pictures from Inhabit below.

The tiles at Inhabit are created using Bagasse, a waste bi-product of sugarcane processing. In the past, this material would have been headed to the landfill or burned as bio-mass -looks like one man's trash really can be another's treasure.


Follow me on Twitter @ThsAmericanHome and on Pinterest at Bonhome! 

Happy Monday!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Pasadena Designer Showcase House: Fifty and fabulous

Experience is sexy. Just ask the interior designers and organizers who transformed the 2014 Pasadena Designer Showcase House for its 50th debut season. The practiced placement of fine art, the confident use of color and pattern, an intuitive understanding of knowing where to show restraint and when to cut loose –not to mention an acquired talent for throwing a house party for 30,000 and making it look easy.

Turning 50 never looked so good.

In fact, the only lines marking this year’s Grande Dame of design were the ones formed by attendees waiting to get in.  

Like most milestones, the anniversary represented an opportunity for both reflection and renewal: Remember the time, actor Adam West was on hand for the opening day ribbon cutting because it was the same house used in the Batman television series? Or the gorgeous poolside of the 1998 showcase home that was once the setting for an infamous a catfight between the1980s superstar divas on Dynasty? Good times.

In fact, this year’s 8,200 square-foot designer showcase was also the location for television series’ including the Rockford Files and Murder She Wrote and seen in blockbuster films such as Twilight. No wonder it was love at first sight.

Thanks to 25 talented Southern California designers, the romantic, 1915 English Arts and Crafts styled home, designed by notable architect Stiles O. Clements, proved once again to set a warm and lovely stage for some of this season’s hottest home trends. If you didn't make it to the showcase this year, here's a glimpse of what you missed:

In the spacious great room (above), designers Kathryne Dahlman and Malissa Graham of Kathryne Designs, Inc. created two distinct spaces using clever placement of furniture and area rugs. Here, an oversized coffee table is surrounded with generous, tufted slipper chairs -round up a few friends and uncork the wine!...Also worth noting the painted interior of the bookshelves and the fact that the area rugs match -providing consistency and flow. 

A newly renovated fireplace anchors the other side of the space, continuing the color story with playful animal prints and thoughtfully chosen artwork.

Here, a close-up of the surround on the fireplace -although the period-looking tile appears original to the home --it is actually brand new! Absolutely gorgeous.

JTID, Inc. created the media game room for the showcase --what looks like a graphic design on the wall is actually a studded pattern of nailhead. Dramatic drapes, eclectic accessories and beautiful lighting aced the space.

 The carriage house, was completely reinvented by designer, Dona Dockendorf and her team at Tocco Finale. Check out the way they draped the eaves in the sitting area, and the mirrored door panels that make a small space seem bigger and reflect light. Animal prints were a popular trend throughout and something you may want to hunt down on your own...

Designers Cynthia Lambakis and Samantha Williams of Ederra Design Studio created the Nanny's retreat. The built-in daybed makes the most of a small space and offers additional storage to boot. Sweet!

I think perhaps one of the most difficult things to do when touring a designer showcase house is to remember that what we are seeing is a transformation of the space and not merely a few finishing touches arranged by talented designers. Although many rooms in the house were brought down to the studs, then recreated to suit the vision of the design team --the results are so seamless it's easy to forget. 

The pool (complete with shallow ledge perfect for toddlers or lounge chairs!) was a dramatic example of before and after. Jeff Lokker and his team at Huntington Pools, Inc. created a space so suited to the home and landscape -- it becomes impossible to picture it any other way.

Here is a video that reveals the before and after transformation of the pool area as well as several spaces within the estate. Check out the muscle and manual labor behind the magic and be amazed
---see you next year at the 51st showcase.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Garden Variety: A Strategy That's Vintage California

On the 3000-square-foot area surrounding Urban Americana, the new antiques and collectibles consortium in Long Beach, CA, owner Chris Geer is growing a second business, a micro-nursery stocked with drought tolerant plants and native west coast greenery.

Geer says, "I'm a big believer that drought-tolerant is the future of the nursery business...so I figured, I have the land and on a micro-scale I could get my feet wet...and see how it goes... We’re stocking the nursery with succulents and native Californian shrubs and grasses so everything out there is basically full sun and drought tolerant."


 Although not everyone would pair a nursery with vintage design and decor, Geer says, " I think the people who are interested in the nursery will come inside and vice versa...I think people will come here [looking for a] nursery –which it is, and then wander inside. I think the two compliment each other." 

After wandering the grounds myself, I agree. The green space set inside the modern, decorative fences of the store offered an urban oasis --as well as a relaxing, stylish vibe.

Take a mini break and roam...

Urban Americana Nursery @ 1345 Coronado Avenue, Long Beach. Hours 10-6pm.

Follow me! BonHome on Pinterest and @ThsAmericanHome on Twitter!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Urban Americana: West Coast Vintage

Tucked away in an industrial section of Long Beach's Zaferia District (just down the street from legendary local pub, Joe Jost's) is Urban Americana, a brand new design resource that has raised the bar when it comes to shopping for vintage goods on the West Coast.

 Housed in what was formerly the Flynn Signs & Graphics factory, owner Chris Geer transformed the newly sleek 16,000-square-foot space to accommodate more than 50 antiques and collectible dealers. And although it's hard to imagine the open, airy, industrial space looking any other way, Geer says the modern makeover took work. "There were a lot of walls and ceilings in this building...everything was very compartmentalized," he explains, "we gutted everything and started from the ground up. There was a thick coating of epoxy on the floors that we removed and we sandblasted the walls and all the steel --which had been painted white."

The result is a light-filled, studio-style showcase for artfully curated antiques and collectibles you can get lost in. 

It's a concept --and a dream, Geer says, "that was born years ago...but then came the recession and I put it off, and put it off. Finally, I found this building and and it was perfect for what I wanted to do. I didn't want to just open my own antique store...I wanted to do something bigger and offer a diverse mix...so it wouldn't only be what I liked."

Mission accomplished. Expert dealers from across the Southland have taken up residence in the new consortium including favorites such as: Retroda; Jennifer Price Studio; Giltcomplex Antiques; Casara Modern; Warehouse 1333; The Shop by H Bleu; Last Vestige Found; Republic Goods and many more.

On the grounds outside the store, Geer operates a second complementary business, a 3,000-square-foot drought-tolerant micro-nursery of California native plants.

"To me what makes vintage so cool is that it's unique," says Geer. Kind of like his new store.

Urban Americana will be celebrating their Grand Opening this weekend, June 7-8 with live local bands on site, drinks, snacks and $100 gift card raffles.

Urban Americana: 1345 Coronado Avenue, Long Beach, CA. Hours 10-6 daily. 562-494-7300. UrbanAmericana.com.

Weekend winner!!

Owner Chris Geer works beneath a giant painted canvas of Sealo the Seal Boy.

Wallpapered with pages from old books.

Vintage jewelry molds!

Well, hello there.

Urban Americana has already attracted the attention of designers, stylists and Hollywood set decorators.

Browsing Retroda...

But wait, there's more...
Follow me on Pinterest at BonHome and on Twitter: Bonnie McCarthy@ThsAmericanHome.

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