1950's Gifts and a New Year's Resolution

These fun holiday ads from the mid-1950’s show typical gifts for women from that era. 
I love to look at ads from this time, with their quirky styles and quaint notion of gifting. 


Sierra Madre: Small Town So Cal

Shopping in the village of Sierra Madre, CA

Small town shopping less than a half hour from downtown L.A.? I have a few favorite districts and villages, but Sierra Madre probably is top on my list.


Style Classic: Vintage Eyewear

I first realized that I needed to wear eye glasses when I couldn't see the thread I was using to hand sew a hem into my friends bridesmaid dress. That began a rather long journey through various drugstore 'cheaters' until I finally gave in and got prescription eye wear. Since then, I have been on the lookout for the most perfect pair of glasses.


Vintage Cookbooks & Turkey Tips

This time of the year I love to pull my vintage cookbooks down from the shelves and see what looks inspiring. It's also good for a little laugh at the expense of our hard working ancestors who toiled on limited budgets with limited resources.


Laguna Beach and Heisler Park

View of Laguna Beach from Heisler Park

Laguna Beach is great in the fall when the crowds have left and the temps drop low enough to enjoy the views. Recently I drove Coast Highway 1 with a friend who was new to the area and hadn't seen this part of the coast before.


Bugs and Butterflies

I love the current home style trend using Natural History artifacts such as bugs and butterflies in displays, wall papers and textiles. From mounted insects, like this butterfly exhibit, to old illustrations and museum displays, these are great details to have around the house. I think I like the water colored book plates the best, so I have been looking to find something with that type of image.

These butterflies, moths and bugs pillows caught my eye. They add so much to my natural colored sofa and were a great way to transition out of my summer color scheme. Old illustrations in black with colored details are seen on a linen textile. Made in the U.S. by American Mills LAVA pillow line, this linen version seems to be discontinued, but several other similar styles are currently available. I really like that American Mills pillows are produced in the States, so it was a bonus to find them. In trying to find others like these, I located another version online at the Screen Door selling for significantly more than the ones I was lucky to find! But, this look is so dramatic, it's worth looking into.

As someone who sews, I also wanted to find the original fabric. This textile design is part of a series by Kelly O'Neal of Design Legacy. They have several other natural history prints showing sea creatures, floral, and birds on linen textiles. It is for sale at the Fabric Finder, HERE.

If this has you thinking about adding a bug, butterfly or other natural history print to your home, you might want to take a look at my Pinterest board "Naturalist Bugs and Animals". I've had fun finding lots of inspiring photos and design ideas on this subject. With a fun natural history print, it's possible to whip up a few pillows or better yet, why not cover a chair or stool to accent the corner of a hall or room. I'd like to try that next.


Spices, Seasonings and Herbs: What to Have on Hand

Taking an herb and spice inventory: What should we have in our kitchen?

One essential element in any feast are the flavors of herbs and spices we have come to love. They make our meals special. Now that the days are getting shorter and Daylight Savings Time is over, are you cooking hearty fall menus again? A home filled with the scent of a rustic bean soup in the crock pot is one way to reward yourself for a day’s hard work when you open the front door at night.

November is the perfect month to take a spices, seasonings and herb inventory and restore your stock for the holidays. Making a list of items that need to be replaced will prevent problems later this season. I admit that this is an expensive proposition. If you want to expand your flavor selection, try ethnic markets and other non-traditional sources for your seasonings.

When I take my inventory, I like to set everything that I use to season my meals out on the counter top and see what is low, empty (who put that back?!), or old. From this I make up a list of seasonings that I need to purchase before I am caught cooking a great meal, but missing my favorite flavors.

Here is a rough list that I work from. Like color, seasonings have shades of scent that affect specific types of foods when we cook. Because of this, I tend to group my seasonings by their function. Some seasoning I buy ground, others I like to keep whole until I use them. If you have a nutmeg grinder or dedicated old coffee grinder, you can buy seasonings whole, and then grind as needed for fuller flavor when you use them. The list that follows has my favorites, but if you think I missed something, let me know. We don't want to leave anything out!

This group works into pies, cookies and deserts. But it’s fun to add them in unexpected places. Why not try cinnamon in your next batch of brownies? Ginger is another spice that can warm up so many foods, and is a great addition to tea.
Vanilla Extract
Almond Extract

Warm tones like these spices add dimension to squash, soups and bean dishes. Try healthful turmeric, it really packs a punch and adds a gorgeous yellow to the dish.
Madras Curry Powder
Garlic Powder

While meats can vary from dark to light, and change in flavor, some seasonings are classics. Chili grows complex with cumin and various types of chili powder. Tandoori Masala is an Indian mixed seasoning that is fun with all meats. It’s a more complex mixed seasoning than most produced by US spice brands.
Chili Powder
Tandoori Masala: BarBQ Spice Mix

All purpose:
It’s possible to add most herbs and spices to any vegetable or meat, but some are the dependable standbys I must have on hand at all times.
Salt and Pepper: in grinders
Mrs. Dash blends and other unsalted herb blends

We would all love to have fresh herbs on hand. Perhaps you were able to dry some this summer. If not, you will want the freshest packaged dried herbs available for this season. This short list is probably the most popular herbs, and can help to elevate your crock pot soups to new flavor levels.


Halloween and Folk Art

Here in southern California it seems that the Day of the Dead celebration has influenced our Halloween style in many ways. For me, it is an opportunity to bring out my hand painted Mexican wood trays and toss in some of the traditional bits that I bring out when fall arrives. Here, a cooking pumpkin waits for me to bake it, surrounded by fall color. I love the way the black wood tray with painted design looks on my round wood table. It's got the kind of informality that is my best style.

Do you have any folk art, textiles, pottery or other cultural objects that you work into your holiday decor? It's so much fun to bring out these pieces and make them the focal point for a bright table, mantle or window treatment over the next few months.


A Chat with Sibella Court

Last weekend I had the opportunity to meet and have a chat with Sibella Court at at her book signing for the wonderful "The Life of a Bowerbird" here in L.A. (at the French General shop). Sibella's inspiring career resume may be splashed with successes in both New York and Australia, but I found her to be a down to earth girl who is easy to talk to. I was most interested in her interior design career, her unique viewpoint and her ability to work her broad business in between her global jaunts and visits to the US. She remarked that she has two assistants to help her with her lovely shop, The Society, Inc., and the design business at large. When I asked if locating and procuring her fast assemblages of objects was difficult, she shrugged and said that she found so many things in her travels. Clearly, she loves what she does, and that's inspiring too.

Part of her charm was the inclusion of her niece and sister-in-law at the signing. It seems her equally gifted younger brother Chris, who photographs those marvelous images we have become so familiar with has re-located to the beach in Los Angeles, so her visit was part business, part family. I love that!

The Life of a Bowerbird, published this month by Harper Design Available online

(The photos here are part of her publicity, and not my own)


Fall Afternoon: Views from a Balcony

Fall is one of the best times here in Southern California. It's finally cool enough again to resume living outdoors, and the afternoons can come alive with color contrasts. I have a favorite balcony that I love to lean out from to catch a wonderous view from Orange county to the south, all the way up to the Hollywood sign to the north.

The view was sunny and bright on this afternoon, and a breeze off the ocean filtered through the open door as we sat on the balcony to enjoy the afternoon. As the shadows lengthened along the roof tops and cypress trees, a dusty haze from the beach started to come up the valley towards the city, as it does most fall afternoons.

Time to slow up a bit, consider our days adventures and finish up a few projects we had set aside a few weeks ago. My trusty graphic designer finished up my wonderful new blog banners (also a darling new banner for my other blog) and in trade I worked as an assistant to photograph her leather crafts for her online shop. We worked outside in the open light of her deck that has a view to the city, something that would have been impossibly hot only a few weeks ago.

This is the first time in years that I have been able to have the opportunity to actually stop and feel fall arrive. In the past, it's been too hectic and busy for me, but now I have the space and freedom to stretch out and see fall again like I did as a kid: planning my Halloween costume and dreaming about Christmas.


Flea Market Sunday: Pasadena City College

I'm not one to get up at dawn and fight the dealers at the local swap meets. For me, it is an opportunity to wander the aisles and take in the visual chaos while enjoying the morning sun. This week I started outside, where the old original flea market began along Hill.

There weren't as many vendors as I can recall in the past, which was a surprise to me, since this was the first Sunday with a cool breeze in months. But maybe they will be back for the pre-holiday rush.

It is interesting how trends affect flea markets about as much as they do retail in general. This time, galvanized tin was king. Tubs, bowls and watering cans abounded. It looked like a French flea market with the number of vendors who brought out their country tins. In addition, chandeliers that had scrolls, twirls, and twists were hanging from canopys and awnings.

Mid-century modern still fills many booths, with lamps, chairs, tables and couches. It is enough to make a good choice if you were looking to fill a special space in a home or office.

But more than that, it's an opportunity to pause while towing a cart filled with treasures, to talk to old friends that I haven't seen in awhile. More time was probably spent sharing stories than walking the rows if I stop to think about it.

What did I buy? Screen prints from new artists excited to share their prints with a customer, a few linens from a table heaped high with random treasures, and a new leather punch from the tool guy in the big booth at the end of a row.

That was enough for this visit. Next week is the Rose Bowl, and I hope to still have some of my allowance to spend!

Pasadena City College Flea Market:
when: 1st Sunday of the month: 7am - 3pm
admission: free
location: Hill @ Del Mar, outside parking lot (park on Green St. for free)
location: Bonnie at Colorado: parking lot and inside parking structure
parking: $2.00, parking structure on Del Mar between Bonnie and Hill
eating: across Colorado Blvd. from campus


COLOURlovers: Playing with color

COLOURlovers is a beautiful place to find color groups and themes. This website is all about color in its many forms. There you will find a huge library of color sets and trends. If you sign-up, once a week you will receive an email with the latest color groups and information. Just click on the link HERE and you'll see what I mean!

There are so many creative ways to use this amazing website. The two links below show color groups that I found with a simple theme 'search' under the terms listed here:
Sunny Garden theme: HERE
Craftsman theme: HERE

How will you use this great resource?


Habitat for Humanity: ReStore

I think one of my favorite places is our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. It's a generous thrift store for house and garden cast-offs. Contractors and home owners have filled our local store with items of all types. From doors and windows to bricks and tiles, lamps and doorknobs, sinks and faucets.

It's the place to find supplies for a remodel or other project. My gorgeous mirrored door is a ReStore find. This heavy solid old door was perfect for the task and filled a blank wall in my bedroom perfectly. I just leaned it against the wall, added a few old hooks for acessories and it was ready to go! (It didn't even need paint, since the old white on it was exactly right).

ReStore is also the best place to remember when you need to clean out your garage: paint? outdated fixtures? yes, they can all go there, instead of the land fill, and that's a nice to know about, isn't it.

Find your local ReStore HERE


Walking the Arroyo Seco

After a recent long hot day, we decided to stretch our legs and air out our house-bound brains with a walk down the old Arroyo Seco. Here in Pasadena it's a nice slice of nature that cuts down through the city on its way to the Los Angeles river. At one time this canyon had a boulder strewn stream bed, but after WWII, the Army Core of Engineers were brought in to save us from floods by creating a cement channel for the seasonal water run off. You can see the effect by the chain link fence along our dusty gravel path. Oh well, it's still a great walk in the early evening as the cooler canyon breeze starts flowing in the bottom of the arroyo as we ramble along.

The bridges are simply awesome, and inspire a bit of a shiver as we walk beneath their aged arches overhead. We like to walk down along the east bluff through the old Busch garden estate (no longer there) and cross a foot bridge near there that lets us come up the opposite side of the river channel. That side has more trees and bushes since it's closer to the bluffs. Suddenly the setting sun drops and the canyon quickly darkens as we finish up our evening in the wilds of a city parkway.

Directions: Take the entry road down the slope and park at the bottom of the canyon in the gravel lots. This gate is on South Arroyo Blvd, close to Norwood Dr and just south of Arbor Street. Walk south to the foot bridge and then turn and come back. If you kept walking south there are horse stables and a golf driving range.


Camp Steve: Retro Style Travel Posters

CampSteve is one heck of a fun website, especially if you love graphic posters with a vintage flavor. The gorgeous retro style travel posters that fill this site would be perfect framed on a sunny wall or den, and the outdoor themed graphics might be exactly what someone you know might like as a gift.

While primarily poster style artwork is shown here, there is so much more. You can even commission a portrait of your home in a poster style layout (how cool would that be?). Looking at each image here can send me off into a timeless place, not unlike the effect story books had on me when I was a kid. The talented CampSteve illustrator is Steve Lowtwait, a graphic artist now living in Boulder, Colorado (that is pretty obvious once you start scanning the website) who owns the cute jeep pictured on his opening page.

find CampSteve here: http://campsteve.com/


Fall, again

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Some time ago, I started to welcome each fall with a pumpkin pie. While nearly 100 degree temperatures aren't really the best weather for pie making, it is time again to kick off autumn with a pumpkin sacrifice. Here is my little baking pumpkin, ready to become a wonderful pumpkin pudding for desert.

Pumpkin pudding: This can't be easier to prepare, since it's really a pumpkin pie filling without the crust, baked alone in a dish. I have made this so many times that I've gotten it down to a few easy steps and a very simple set of ingredients: spices (allspice, cinnamon), brown sugar, egg (well, egg whites actually).

First step: cook the pumpkin. There are several ways to do this. I cut my pumpkin in half and cleaned out the seeds with a big spoon. Then each half was cut into about 3 big pieces (btw: it takes a super sharp butcher's knife to do this). These pieces were set in a big soup pan with several inches of water in the bottom. This was covered with a lid and brought to a boil. I think it takes between 30 minutes and an hour to cook the pieces, depending on the pumpkin. You'll know yours is ready when a fork can pierce the chunks easily. Drain these in a collander or set them out on a dish cloth. When cool to the touch, use a spoon to scoop out the soft pumpkin from the skin.

Second step: make up the batter. I put about half of the pumpkin in my food processor, along with about a 1/2 cup of the brown sugar, and several 'dashes' of cinnamon and allspice. This was whirled until blended. This is a good time to take a taste in case you need to add more spices. Next add 1/4 cup of the egg whites and whirl. Repeat with the second batch then stir both batches together well.

Third step: cook. It was too hot for the oven, so I used a micro wave to cook our pudding. I found one of my cute vintage corning baking dishes and poured the batter into it. I cooked it in 5 minutes sets, checking with a fork to see how it was setting up. When a fork can pierce it cleanly, you're done.

This pudding can be served warm with any topping, such as ice cream, but actually I like to have it plain.

This happy pumpkin pudding is our 'good bye' to long days and evenings spent outside. We have already begun to notice the glow of fall's earlier sunsets, but I also know our weather will continue to stay warm for a month, or even longer!



I have been noticing gates lately. Whether wooden, wire or iron, these portals into both small and large places are like a fashion accessory to the building they embrace. I would like to have a few small gates into my yard that both protect and invite, hide and reveal. I am collecting ideas and looking for inspiration.


Summer Wedding

A recent wedding reception was set in a large Mediterranean style patio surrounded by trees and Italianate rooms. The large patio is bordered by an arcade on all sides and framed with arched pillars. For the wedding, this open space was draped in soft white fabric that billowed in the early evening breeze. The gathered curtains gave an illusion of privacy while protecting the diners from the sun as it set behind the bride and groom at their table under the arches.

Overhead, wide banners of canvas were stretched across the patio above the diners, creating a softly flowing awning that shaded them from the late day sun. In keeping with the sunny Mediterranean theme, floral arrangements of warm colors were accented by cool toned succulents. The effect was stunning!


Musing over Lunch

It's nice to have a favorite place to go to for lunch. One with a table for two outside, in case I plan to meet a friend there. I prefer something not too busy or crowded, so we can share thoughts without shouting. If I am alone, I bring my journal so I can spend the quiet time jotting notes, sketching ideas and making plans. It's a good time to stop and reorganize, writing a list and crossing off what isn't really that important or drawing an idea that is floating around in my head before it evaporates.

Meanwhile, our soup and salad will arrive. We set aside our notes to contemplate lunch. Often this is my main meal of the day and it's fun to see what the cook has prepared. Maybe it's something I can try to do at home by guessing what is in the soup or how the salad was put together.

Finding new ways to prepare our daily meals can be so creative and compelling. On the way home I pick up a new cheese for my own version of that salad later in the week. Do you find yourself doing that too? I get my best ideas from great meals I have had--both at friends homes and dining out. Although I don't think I can ever copy something exactly as it was prepared, the influx of a new element is always a great way to change up a classic or revive my interest in some dish that I might have forgotten about. How do you find new cooking ideas? Keeping our meals fresh and exciting is so important and starting with a creative lunch is a great way to begin.


Fresh Produce

Summer mornings are the best time of the day to be outside and in the sun. Here the weather is still full of summer warmth, where the mid-day heat can wilt our spirit and we take shelter inside. Going out to the farmer's market in the early morning nearby is a delight. There in the blue-tinged light under the cool of market awnings, fresh produce seems so much more inviting than its cousins in the chill of a market.

At first I am overwhelmed by the selection: what was it that we needed? After surveying the greens I am reminded that our salad selection has specific openings for new crunchy greens and any exotics to add flavor. Back on task I wander through the vendors, seeking out firm fruits to last the week and soft tomatoes for tonight's dinner.

I love that it's possible to find both 'ready to eat' and 'wait for this to ripen' varieties available. This is where I have to be careful not to buy more than we need and it takes some consideration. I pause at the grape vendor and over-hear a mother and daughter discussing their plans for a family barbeque. Their ideas sound delicious, and I am inspired to re-think my own menu for our weekend too.

Back home in the kitchen, I set out the fruit in a basket to ripen where it will be seen and we won't forget to check on the progress of each piece as it makes its way from firm to ripe then far too quickly, on to over-ripe. When it comes to fresh fruit, sometimes you just have to drop what you're doing and eat a pump nectarine over the sink, since its freshness won't wait until tomorrow's lunch time comes around.


Landscape Design Guides

I love taking long walks through neighborhoods with creative landscaping. Stopping to see how the plants, hard scapes and details in the yards are arranged against the backdrop of the home and fences give me a wealth of ideas to take back home.

Recently I found a great web site with landscaping ideas packaged around the home style called Landscaping Network. Each architectural type has its own page which includes paint swatches, yard accessories and planting (my collage here is taken from the page on Craftsman landscapes). I like the idea of planning a landscape with an eye to overall color, and that's easy to see in these pages.

There are 21 sets of Landscape Design Guides and each has a pdf file for you to keep as reference.

Download the complete garden design landscaping styles in PDF format HERE.  I hope these guides help and inspire your home and yard!


Harvesting Rosemary

This week I walked through my herb garden and harvested some of the rosemary that had become overgrown during the summer. I try to keep them trimmed and in check before they start to sprawl across the walk way. Cutting back the older rosemary a bit gave me a good sized bunch to dry for cooking. After it has been washed I like to set it out in a basket in the shade to air dry. This crop of dried rosemary will be fresh for holiday cooking, not only for myself, but there will be plenty to pack into little glass jars and give to friends about the time Halloween comes around.


the Little Black Dress

A fiery red head I have watched grow up will be getting married soon. The location is lovely, with both inside and alfresco venues. It's close to the date and I need to come to some decision on what I will wear. At one time I would have taken this as an opportunity to sew up a new dress to add to my 'collection'. Then again, shopping for something new would be fun with shoes, accessories and lunch at a cafe? But somehow that shouldn't be necessary. Don't I already have a great dress that will suit the occasion? Yes, of course. The little black dress.

And there it is as always. Simple silhouette worthy of a daytime or evening event. Flattering matte finish crepe fabric. Clean lines, clean look. Easy to pair this up with any of several heels on hand. Find the right necklace or earrings and we are out the door.

My classic dress isn't new. But it is still wearable. I'm lucky that this past decade hasn't seen any monumental spikes in silhouette shape, hem length or other hard line definition of fashion. It's a good time to shop our own closets. Probably you'll find something to wear to your next special event, especially if it's a little black dress.


A Beginning

This post starts a new blog for me. My established blog Pintucks, has a life of its own with a tight subject focus. This new blog that I call "Studio, Garden & Bungalow" will be more about me and what I like. It will be centered on my home, my work and my southern California life-style. If you come along on this walk, we will take hikes, plant succulents, paint rooms and cook from my garden. We will explore the lost streets and byways of old Los Angeles. Wander gardens and old backyards, alleys, parks and find vintage bits and pieces to take home along the way.

This is also about making. It's about finding the inspiration and time to make a garden, a dress, a pie. As I work, I'll share with you my progress and techniques for doing these things.

I hope you will find this new blog of mine something that inspires you to weave making, exploring and walking your own world.
Luck, Love and Peace in the days to come,