Sunday, September 26, 2010

Preserving a bit of autumn

The boys and I drove up to Leavenworth, 2 hours east of Seattle, to meet out of state family. Along the drive through the Cascade Mountains, yellow, gold and red started to peek through the green leaves and I was wishing I had brought a saw and cut a few branches for a leaf preserving project I’ve wanted to try out. As luck would have it, there in park in the middle of Leavenworth was a pile of tree branches bursting with autumn colors. Always a good sport, my Aunt Lora Lee helped me load some rather large branches in the back of the car. Then the real quest started. My leaf preserving project required glycerin which helps keep the leaves pliable and keeps their colors from fading, sometimes for years. Finding this agent (a by-product of soap making) was not easy, and after 3 days of phone calls, visits to every craft and natural store I could think of, I finally found it at Zenith Supplies in Seattle. By now, even though I kept them in water, my branches started to dry out a little. Still I crated these two arrangements in the house, mixing glycerin with water and a little dish soap to help break up the surface tension and to allow the glycerin to be more easily absorbed. I’m very pleased with how the leaves look and if it they don’t preserve this time, there’s still a few weeks to head to the hills and try to find a fresh batch of leaves. I’ll let you know how things turn out. Happy autumn!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Add style and wit with the x-bench

I’m obsessed with the x-bench. Impossibly chic, it is the perfect accessory to any room and adds unexpected style and a pop of color. It goes anywhere: the foot of the bed, under a console table, opposite the sofa for extra seating when needed. The yellow bench above provides a bright counterpoint to the room’s palate and pulls the interior together with a sizzle.

If you really want to add sharp style to your room, get two! Ballard Design may be your best bet with a price range from $179 - $371. You can get the bench in a wide range of upholstery options and can preview the look from a big selection of swatches. Don’t hold back, go for a print!

For a touch of luxury, Jonathan Adler has the x-bench in a wide range of colors and prints starting at $495 --- but you are worth it.

Serena & Lily’s Parker x-bench comes with piping options, adding a very sophisticated detail and a $599 price tag to match.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ballard Bungalow: Before + After

The Ballard Bungalow project is complete and turned out picture perfect. We tried a few new (even risky?) things and the results paid off.

Before: This rectangle room was cramped with no flow to the furnishings, lack luster paint and a drab floor.

The clients have two dogs, so we needed to pick colors and materials that would be paw and fur friendly. They also wanted a semi-formal room to curl up with a book as well as entertain. We chose Benjamin Moore Light Khaki in an egg shell finish for the walls. One of the true stars of the room is the vintage ceiling light fixture that’s original to the house. In order to highlight the light and give some sizzle to the room, the ceiling was painted with Benjamin Moore’s Newburyport Blue in a flat finish (why flat?).

It was important to the clients that we avoid purchasing from big box retailers and repurpose as much furniture and finishes as possible. The vintage camel back sofa came from The House in Magnolia and other furnishings were found online. With the dogs in mind, Flor tiles in a celery color were laid in the living room. Should anything happen, be it dog or drink, the tiles can easily be replaced and afforded a perfect fit for this unusually sized room.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bastille Rooftop Garden Tour

Michael and I got to tour -- and taste -- the bounty of the roof top garden at Bastille, one of our favorite places to eat in Seattle. With a French inspired bistro menu that includes up to 30% of their own roof grown crop, this Ballard old restaurant reminds us of Pastis, one of our most favored NYC spots. With a similar d├ęcor and vibe, you know you aren’t in NYC when you come up to the roof to find buzzing bee hives and wading pools full of peppery arugula

Bastille offers garden tours every other Wednesday during the summer. For our spin through the garden, Chef Fletcher took a break from the kitchen to show us around while we sipped cocktails made with honey from the rooftop bees.

Installed by Colin McCrate of Seattle Urban Farm Company, several custom built irrigated and heated boxes make up the majority of the garden, providing the restaurant with organic and seasonal produce all year. We saw that last sprigs of lettuce, soon to be replaced by chard and kale. Beets are thriving in a kiddie pool, wrapped for insulation. I’m sure Nick and Linus won’t mind if I coopt their pool for vegetables.

Just as Executive Chef Shannon Galusha assures us that no one has ever been stung by their bees, I get stung. But it was a small price to pay to peek inside the hive and sip their handiwork.

Chef Fletcher sent out a treat. It always pays to chat up the people who make delicious food.

It’s all about back to the land….or in this case, back to the roof. Growing one’s own food can be done in the most unlikely of places, and as Bastille demonstrates with great success, a little dirt, water and sun can connect you directly to the food you eat in ways a grocery store simply cannot. I’m eyeing our backyard now, wondering how many boxes we could get in there and what I should plant first.