Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Finishes Finalized!

There has been a lot more running around for my sister's condo. The fabric has been purchased. Yesterday I placed the carpet order. Tonight I put together the final paint order so that my uncle can pick it up tomorrow and start the painting. It feels great to get this part completed, but I am exhausted! When is my mom going to be home? My poor Little Helper is beginning to dread going over to Auntie's condo. I feel bad because I hardly have time to get them fed and I'm just relying on the baby taking his naps in the car. That doesn't always happen; I feel like a bad Mommy.
In any event, here is what we have for the Living and Dining Rooms: The fabric is called Sunscape, color: Tropic and will allows us to pull in so many different colors as accent pieces. The paint will be Benjamin Moore Tear Drop Blue with Navajo White for the ceiling (in the entire apartment). The carpet will be acut pile that has arabesques in it called Blessed View color: Cat Tail. No joke, we had it narrowed down to two brown colors that would work with the fabric and when she saw the word Cat, the decision was made.
In her bedroom we have Grey raw-silk-look fabric called Shinto color: Gray for the curtains and the black & white graphic fabric for the headboard is Gallilee color: Metal. this room will have a different carpet which is reminiscent of bamboo called St. Croix color: Watersport. The walls will be BM Cement Gray and the accent wall behind the headboard will be BM Deep Rose. Lastly there is the Office which is getting away from me. Unfortunately I had to take my sister with me to the fabric store to meet with the drapery man and while browsing around to see if there were any fabrics that she liked better for the windows she spied a cat fabric. And it was not good. I talked her out of it for the curtains because it isn't the right fabric weight. But now this fabric is in her head and she called me a few days later to tell me she still likes it and wants to reupholster the "shell chair " in it. I cringe just thinking about this awesome chair being sentenced to a life covered in cat fabric. But I decided to not worry about it for now. I told her that is a project she and mom can work on when she returns. This way I don' t have to tell her no. I feel a little guilty though. I keep telling her this is her condo, she can do what she wants and doesn't have to listen to Mom's opinion, and then I do the exact same thing to her. I know cat things will be in this house, but I want to start out with her having a nice, grown up place. A place that she loves even with nary a cat tchotchke in sight.
Anyway, the carpet will be the same Blessed View, Cat Tail as the main rooms, and BM Arizona Tan on the walls. It is a nice brown that can work with just about anything in case this cat fabric doesn't materialize. (Hahaha)
Tomorrow we will meet with the drapery guy during which he'll do a field measure. More running around. I'm sure my boys will love it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Feast of St. John the Baptist

We had so much fun putting together our beer and cheese party last year that we decided to do it again. The only problem was that Mr. W was scheduled to be at a golf tournament with his fraternity brothers the same weekend. I don't like beer. It would be dumb of me to have a party while he was gone and I had the boys all by myself, right? Eh, I decided that I could have a party without him. Even if I don't like beer, nor do many of my friends, we could always sneak in a little wine instead and enjoy some cheese and summer weather.
Last year we went overboard with too many pairings so I wanted to keep it under control this year, especially since I'd be doing it alone. I decided 4 was a good number. Mr. W helped me with most of the pairings but I decided I wanted to incorporate honey somehow as a nod to St. John. (I had no idea how to include locusts) I found a great honey pairing online here. As with last year, I bought all the beers at Belmont Station and appreciate the good customer service there since I don't know what I'm doing with beer.
This year's pairings:
  • Smoked Gouda paired with Paulaner Salvatore Double Bock (Munich, Germany)
  • Kerrygold Aged Cheddar paired with Alameda Black Bear XX Stout (Portland, Oregon)
  • Mascarpone paired with Foret Saison Ale (Tourpes, Belgium)
  • Rouge Creamery Gorgonzola drizzled with honey paired with Dundee Honey Brown Ale (Rochester, New York)
I had the usual suspects to go with the cheeses and beers: bread, crackers, peanuts, pretzels sticks, quince paste, and then fruit for the boys.The St. John's wort that I bought a few years ago did not survive in the container in which I planted it. And due to the weather no one's flowers seemed to be in bloom yet anyway. I may buy some more though and add it to the whiskey barrel planter with the Michaelmas daisy. Since it is pretty invasive I need to keep it contained. Instead I picked a fat bouquet of roses from our garden in yellows and oranges to tie in with the honey theme.
I had a nice little turn out of friends and everyone still had plenty of cheese in which to partake even with fewer pairings. And I tried all the beers! I hope Mr. W will be proud of me. I liked the first one, the Paulaner. But I'm not a beer convert yet.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pentecost Sunday

Ever since he joined our parish, our priest has encouraged everyone to dress in red for Pentecost for a big ending to the Easter season. I also had been perusing food ideas at Catholic Cuisine and saw lots of red themed desserts like red velvet cake. Since I knew I'd be recovering from Peonies & Pearls I decided that I'd just focus on a savory red meal like risotto or something.
That was all I needed to mention to Mr. W and he took it as a challenge accepted! I really am so lucky that he loves to cook and that we are so well suited to each other in our nerdiness. He planned a 3 course red meal for us and all I had to do was nurse a baby and set the table.
He started out with a seared tuna in sesame seeds. Now while I know tuna is red, my only experience with it is from a can. I thought it tasted great, although he was a little disappointed that it didn't turn out more red. He also made Campari and soda for red colored cocktails.The main course was a risotto with roasted red peppers and goat cheese paired with steak. I'm not a rare girl so mine wasn't red and bloody like his was.I had suggested making some sort of rhubarb glaze for the meat since our rhubarb plant grows like gangbusters. Instead, he decided to save it for the dessert course and create a strawberry rhubarb crumble based on a peach crisp recipe from his America's Test Kitchen cookbook. I do love my oatmeal so this was a special treat for me.He also brought me a nice red gerbera daisy plant as a center piece. I set the table with some red linen placemats I got on super sale at W&S and a candle to represent the Holy Spirit's tongues of fire that descended upon the Apostles. A nice Sunday supper.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Peonies and Pearls tea party

I was reading the issue of Victoria magazine in which they featured an article on an outdoor party celebrating cherry blossoms. It looked so sweet but I knew such an event could never be pulled off in the PNW in the winter. I started thinking about pretty outdoor settings I could have, my mother's arbor for Mother's Day? Probably still too risky. (And considering this year's picnic disaster...) Perhaps my grandmother's patio? The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. Her birthday is in June. June's birthstone is the pearl. She has a lovely bed of peonies that should be in bloom then. And when I did the math I realized it would be her 85th birthday, what better way to celebrate her milestone?!
My mom, sister, aunts, and cousins loved the idea and when I presented the idea to Grandma at Easter she agreed. She doesn't really care to be the center of attention so we kept the guest list short to just immediate family. I put together a menu with ideas for sandwiches and desserts so that everyone could pick one or two things to make and bring. This was a great way to keep the work down for one person and everyone could go all out on the dish they were making. Best of all there would be no kitchen full of dishes at Grandma's house save the place settings.
I thought about foods that could have pearls in them and came up with caviar garnishing a sandwich, pearl colored dragees on a cookie, and jasmine tea pearls. Then I filled in with the usual suspects for a tea party. Here is the full menu:

  • Jasmine pearl tea and Lady Grey tea
  • Pink Lemonade
  • Pink champagne, mimosas, and bellinis
  • Smoked salmon sandwiches on pumpernickel bread with caviar pearl garnish. (I used this recipe for the herb butter.)
  • Cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches
  • Curried chicken salad sandwiches
  • Roast beef and cheddar pinwheels
  • Ham with pineapple cream cheese
  • Mini bundt cakes
  • Lavender sugar cookies with pearl dragees
  • Chocolate mousse with raspberries and cream
  • Lemon tartlets (My mom called these Aphrodites because she thought they ended up looking like nipples)
  • Deviled eggs
  • Fruit salad
Although I hate pink, I knew that pink would tie the pearls and peonies together best, plus this party wasn't about me. I decided to pair the pink with a sage green color like my super long tablecloth. Rather than using lots of card tables, we could move grandma's dining room table outside onto the patio and add all three table leaves. I envisioned pretty pink peonies as napkin rings as well as floral arrangements. I decided to fashion my own napkin rings so I could get just what I wanted and hoped that silk flowers wouldn't look too tacky next to the real ones. LinkI used pink and green ribbon sewn together for the rings and hot glued on the faux peonies. (Yes, I finally admitted to myself that I am a crafter and bought my own darn hot glue gun. One with two temperatures no less.)To tie the pearls into the tablescape I considered using strings of mauve and pink pearl beads my mom uses to decorate her tree. But during one of my trips to the craft store I forgot and bought some loose pearl beads in various sizes. I also found some pearl letters which I used on the menu card. And it is very subtle, but the place cards are a pearlecent paper.
Grandma has Noritake china with a simple silver design so it will go with just about everything. Unfortunatley she doesn't have the tea service to match her china. My mom and I realized one afternoon that a green and pink tea set in her vast collection would tie in perfectly with our color scheme.
This party was so fun to put together and was made very easy the day of since everything was delegated out amongst us.

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Sister's Condo

My sister has Aspberger's Syndrome. The summer before my dad died I was trying to get my parents to buy a place for my sister. She was almost 30 and had only briefly lived on her own in an apartment. They were nervous about her bringing the wrong type of people home. My thought was that it would be a lot harder for her to have to adjust to living on her own at 60-something after my parents died far off in the future, rather than in her thirties. They thought I was morbid and creepy for bringing it up. Since we were on our way home from a family funeral in Seattle, I thought I was just being topical. Sadly and ironically my dad died unexpectedly less than 3 months later.
After he passed my mom tried out apartment life again for my sister. This time instead of a "risky" location in downtown, she was out in South Tabor, but with easy access to bus lines and in close proximity to our grandparents' house and my mom's work. Due to a whole lot of legal and financial details between SSI, the state, mom's insurance and a rent hike, they decided it was finally time to purchase a condo for her. I stayed mostly out of this process because I am busy with the boys and working on the Povey presentation. (I couldn't procrastinate anymore!)
At first I was a little disappointed with the final condo selection. Rather than some cute old building with loads of charm and maybe some clinker brick, or even a high rise with a view. They settled on an ugly infill apartment building turned condo in Irvington. Yuck! My sister is going to live in a product of The Great ReMuddling?! But it is close to Lloyd Center and the house where we grew up so she is familiar with the neighborhood and there is ample access to public transportation. (One of the high rise buildings is cat free. My sister is a cat fanatic and the permanence of a condo is what my mom has been waiting for to allow my sister to get a cat of her own.)
My sister has always wanted me to be her "interior decorator" since that was my former life and I am happy to do that for her. She and I don't have a lot in common and that applies to our aesthetic style as well so this will be a fun opportunity for me to do something modern and bold. I met htem at the condo to take measurements after their offer was accepted. In reality the building is much better in person. The street is very shady and residential, with plenty of great old Irvington houses on the same block. In fact former clients are across the street. I think this building can grow on me. If nothing else it will give give me a Mid century Mod starting point.
Our mom, being a mom is quite concerned with the baseboard heating being under all the windows, we can't have the fabric touching the heater! It will be a fire hazard! What will we do? My plan is to Mod it up with pleated drapes that hit just at the window casing. The previous homeowner's solution leaves a lot to be desired!
Another problem to be solved with draperies is the electrical panel's position in the bedroom which will become her office. My plan is to have curtain rods that extend to the corners of the room so the fabric stack back will always keep that covered up. That's important because otherwise the panel is the first thing you see when you walk into the room. And we won't compromise on accessibility.
The kitchen cabinetry is very mid-century, with some updated hardware and new ceramic counter top and floor tiles. It is awfully dark in there, but since my sister doesn't really cook it isn't too much of a problem. I'll want to lighten it up with a fun, bright paint color for her.
It does have some really great art deco inspired light fixtures in the kitchen and dining room. Mom hates them and wants them replaced, but my sister and I both like them. It is my sister's apartment so I think we can make them work for her.
The shade in the hallway light is not bad.The lights in the bathroom are bizarro. What on earth were they thinking? This is a tiny, windowless room. Why paint the walls dark brown and hang a pendent light that is best used for mood lighting? I can't see how this would have been a good space to get ready for work.The passage hardware, as well as all the light fixtures and other hardware has been updated to brushed nickel.
Another view of the future office with ill fitting curtains.
Lastly the master bedroom. Ever since she was a pre-teen and read The Babysitter's Club books my sister has been obsessed with the red, white, and black color scheme. I think this is finally the time for her to get her RW&B bedroom. I think I can acheive this with grey paint on the walls with RW&B bedding and accents. More specifically I'm thinking about doing a red accent wall behind her bed. I've never been a big fan of accent walls; they are seldom done correctly and frankly, I think they are played out. But in this case I think it is a perfect application. All red walls would be too much.
Now, here is the tricky part. My mom is going to France for 3 weeks at the end of the month. They're not sure when exactly it will close, but guess who will get to coordinate everything while my mom is gone? That's right me. This could be really great or really bad.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Memorial Day Camping trip (aftermath)

Baby Boy got to sleep in a tent for the very first time.We had a little bit of a problem with that new Coleman tent. Mr. W went a little overboard with the tent purchase, it had a porch, a hinged door, two rooms, a night light! Plus Daddy can stand completely upright inside. The problem was the rain screen wasn't big enough, or rather the guys didn't pull it out taught enough, or whatever, but water started dripping on us in the middle of the night. All this space in our brand new tent, and we're all squashed in a corner that isn't leaking. It was mostly resolved by the second night, but the damage was already done, I'm bitter about this new tent.

On their first morning in the wilderness the children headed off on a nature hike, complete with some bug catchers that some smart parent brought for everyone. Here are the boys dressed in their PNdub outdoor gear.Some chaperones following behind
And some little ladies bringing up the rear.Our Little Helper was very pleased to have brought back this slug. I think these little bug kits were such a good idea, I'm so glad someone brought them!The group campsite Mr. Z secured was really nice, it included a large field where we set up our tents and could park our vehicles, two 'cabins', a covered outdoor picnic area on slab, two pit toilets, and a mess hall with water and electricity. Not roughing it in my opinion, but with all the children (and many of the wives being the roughin' it type) it makes a lot of sense that the camping trips have evolved to this.
When everyone gets together like this I still am amazed that all of them have had sons. There are very few daughters, and the few that are are not the first borns. Some crazy genes happening with this brotherhood. So with all this wide open space the boys were able to play a lot of catch and kick around a lot of balls. All that hard work deserves a mid-morning toasted marshmallow or two.The girls were having their own mess adventure in nature.As I mentioned in my camping prep post, the boys liek to outdo themselves when it comes to the meals. Each meal is prepared by a two family team. Saturday night's dinner was a pirate theme. There was a lot of effort put into a rum punch for the adults based on an old Dickens's recipe. (Or should I say an alleged Dickens's recipe?) There was also a very impressive Pirate's Treasure chest for dessert. (I am all kinds of surprised that it made the journey to the campsite looking so good!)Of course there is always dinner entertainment too so in keeping with the pirate theme, the children played pin the eye patch on the pirate. Here the children are lined up somewhat patiently waiting their turn.Ladybug is having a very earnest conversation with the pirate.Getting blindfolded and spun. Each child got spun as many times as was their age.It really was so great to have this mess hall for getting everyone together in some degree of illumination for dinners. It also made it a lot easier for the meal preparers to be out of the rain.
A little baseball for day two.
Huddling around the firepit to stay warm.Sunday was our night to prep the crazy bento meal that Mr. W and The General had decided upon. He even went out and found little storage boxes to fashion into the bento boxes. The problem was as he was prepping the meat he sliced his hand, so everything else, including these little boxes was done with a major injury. Poor guy! Here are the meat versions midway through; we created quite the assembly line to get these together.And the final product, tofu version. Isn't this pretty camping food?Not to have the children eat unattractive meals, The General instructed me to arrange their plates like this, with each foil wrapped quesadilla propped upright. Mr. W brought his yet unused karaoke machine and The General wired up a disco ball in the covered picnic area. Because you can't have karaoke without a disco ball, duh! Oh these boys! I don't know what our sons will think when they start camping with Boy Scouts, it will certainly be a shocker. It was really fun activity though! The song books even had a few songs that the children knew so they were allowed to sing a few songs before they were sent off to bed. Those children whose parents did not enforce a regular bedtime were left to suffer the consequences of obscene lyrics. (This probably is good preparation for Boy Scouts though?)Our last morning of the camping trip, keeping my baby warm. He did really well on this trip. I look forward to next year though when he's sure to be running around with the bigger kids having muddy adventures.And as far as the Three Amigos, this was an awesome way to spend the weekend. What more could you ask for at 3?