TREAT YOUR VALENTINE!

Valentines Day might just be the most hotly debated holiday of the year.  Some of us revel in the act of planning elaborate date nights, or crafting over-the-top candy favors, while others loathe the idea of all that forced romance and pressure to create the perfect day.  I’ve found myself on both sides throughout the years, and have finally settled somewhere right down the middle.  The perfect solution to me, is to find a relaxed and simple way to tell those you love in your life, how much you care.  Whether you’re in a romantic relationship or not, the gesture of love is always appreciated, and we thought we’d showcase two easy ways to make this happen.

candy-hearts

For that love interest, instead of fighting the crowds for a table at some restaurant Saturday night, why not surprise him with a tray of his favorite morning goodies?  A little New York Times for reading, pastries from that bakery down the street, a great cup of coffee… breakfast in bed is always appreciated by all!  Spending the whole morning together in total relaxation mode is always a winner.

20150203_KettleWerks_1053

 

A spread of fruit and croissants is perfect for this type of morning.  If you’re here in Seattle, stop by Bakery Nouveau on Capitol Hill.  Their pastries are to die for, and it’s definitely worth getting there early to skip the long weekend lines.

20150203_KettleWerks_1065

 

For a less traditional Valentines celebration, why not spend a little time with that friend you care so much about?  Invite them over for a perfectly pretty breakfast spread, and spoil them with thoughtful details and delicious mimosas!  I always wish I had more time to spend with my girlfriends… a relaxed breakfast or brunch at home is the perfect chance to catch up on each other’s lives.

20150203_KettleWerks_1015

 

Locally made granola with seasonal fruit is an easy and delicious breakfast option for a low key get together.  We love Marge Granola for their variety of unique flavors, and the fact that they’re based right here in Seattle.

20150203_KettleWerks_1031

 

We love keeping the colors soft and feminine… pale pink flowers and white china set a calming scene.  And an extra touch we love?  Hard candy spoons made of honey… perfect for stirring tea or for eating that yogurt parfait.

20150203_KettleWerks_1021

 

Of course you can’t forget the sweets, the perfect finish for any celebration.  Order a batch of sweetheart cookies, or send that friend off with a gorgeous chocolate bar, and you’ll have made their day.

20150203_KettleWerks_1040

 

Happy Valentines day to all who celebrate love!

 

Images by KettleWerks, Styling by Adrian Perry

CHRISTMAS EVE WRAPPING TIPS

If you’re anything like me, your Christmas gifts are waiting in the closet for their final holiday treatment.  It’s traditional to shop and wrap gifts on Christmas Eve, but the additional step of wrapping everything up can feel a bit stressful with so many things going on this time of year.  I wanted a quick fix, and Adrian Perry is my go-to for the most practical yet stylish solutions to a busy life here in the Northwest.  We asked her to stop by and share a few tricks she has up her sleeves to give those gifts that final, special touch.

 

20141217_TPS_Adrian_280

Wrapping has become such a fun and creative part of the holiday season, with all of the beautiful papers and note tags, it can be hard to choose from so many options.  Because of this, Adrian likes to keep a stash of non-seasonal wrapping paper year round, and chooses to embellish her gifts with details that speak to that particular holiday or event.  It tends to keep the aesthetic more true to one’s personality, and as she points out, saves a ton of money on constantly buying new rolls of paper.  Paper Source is one of the best spots for gorgeous, high quality neutral paper to keep on hand throughout the year.

 

 

20141217_TPS_Adrian_133

A classic black and white palette was chosen with bursts of red throughout.  Rifle Paper Company is a favorite of Adrian’s for their whimsical designs and unique pieces, and was perfect for jazzing up the neutral base…how cute is that mini composition book!?  We love their selection of adhesive gift tags in floral designs as well.  So pretty and festive, and easy to use.

Kate Spade Saturday has been making these awesome printed gift boxes, which are genius for the SUPER last minute gifter.  Just add a bow and you’re set!  Colored kitchen twine is also a nice thing to keep around, as you get a ton of it in each roll, and it always looks pretty wrapping up a gift.

 

 

Adrian Wrapping Tutorial 1

Adrian approaches gift wrapping in a similar way to setting a table.  Start with the foundation, she teaches, and work up in layers to allow each detail to stand out as you go.  To start, she visually measures the amount of paper needed by placing the box and cutting away the excess paper, saving that for a smaller gift or homemade note tag later on.

 

 

Adrian Tutorial Folding

When folding the ends, take care to make a double fold before taping.  This cleans up all the messy edges you sometimes forget about.  Adrian uses double sided tape inside of the folds as opposed to taping it all down at the end…an ultra polished effect!

 

 

Adrian Wrapping Tutorial Creasing Paper

My biggest takeaway from this lesson, is to be sure to crease all edges tightly as you work.  This creates a clean edge and smooths out the surface of the wrapping paper.  It’s no fun to finish your wrapping, only to have a sloppy looking rippling effect going on.

 

 

Adrian Wrapping Label

Once you’re finished with the technical wrapping portion, begin to embellish!  Have fun, and think about the person you’re gifting this to.  It’s always nice to incorporate aspects of their personalities into the wrapping…Adrian points out how wonderful it is to see a person light up over the care and thought you’ve given to the presentation of their gift.

 

 

20141217_TPS_Adrian_203 (1)

Ta da!  You’re all set for a beautiful and stylish Christmas tree tomorrow morning.  Happy Holidays!  Sending love and joy to all.

 

Photos by Kettlewerks.

 

ENTERTAINING WITH ADRIAN PERRY

Today we thought we would bring you a little holiday get-together inspiration.  I love picking other people’s brains, instagram feeds, pinterest boards, etc. for their personal ways to celebrate and host an event.  It’s always so interesting to see what someone else might dream up, and usually inspires me to add a new twist to the regular routine.

Enter our new “Entertaining Expert”, Adrian Perry.  Adrian is an established visual stylist here in Seattle, and is one of those people you constantly turn to for advice on adding sparkle to life.  The creative spirit just sort of flows out of her, and her desire to always learn and grow within her craft is infectious.  I constantly find myself looking to her for a little creative jolt when life starts to feel a bit mundane.

Adrian will be joining us from time to time to help us all be the best possible hostess, and today, she’s demonstrating one of her favorite ways to gather friends together during the holiday season…a rustic and casual wine and cheese spread.  Guests love this sort of thing for the easy going, help yourself atmosphere, and you will adore this for the break from heavy duty kitchen work this time of year.  A little more low key, a little more intimate, yet still refined and very gorgeous to look at.


20141022_Adrian_063

 

On Adrian’s tabletop, rustic and earthy elements abound…from marble pedestals full of fruit and nuts, to hearty baguettes and crisp fruit slices, each food item stays within the palette.  Setting bread and oil, or wedges of cheese out on simple cutting boards encourages guests to graze at their leisure.

Wine and Cheese party, rustic elements

 

Personal touches to standard ingredients are something that Adrian loves to incorporate.  As shown below, she will often infuse honey with a seasonal element, such as fresh rosemary in the Fall, or blackberries during Summer.  Simply chop up the herb or berry you would like to use, stir it into a jar of honey, and let sit for 5 days.  Store it in a cool, dry place, with the lid tightly closed, and it will last indefinitely.

Infused Honey

 

Adrian also suggests serving one main special dish that you can build your table around.  Today, it’s Roasted Grapes…so simple, yet something I had never thought of doing!  The smell coming from the kitchen as this was being prepared was to die for, and I loved the fact that it was still very easy to prepare.

Roasted Grapes

Roasted Grapes over Brie Cheese

You will need……

Red Seedless Grapes

Olive Oil

Fresh Thyme

Sea Salt

Fig Preserves (feel free to use any jam of your choice)

Crushed Black Pepper

Wash and dry the grapes, then preheat oven at 400 degrees.  Place grapes in a skillet or baking tray, and coat with olive oil.
Sprinkle thyme leaves, sea salt, and black pepper lightly over grapes.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 18 minutes or until grapes start to wrinkle, and give them a little nudge halfway through to ensure that they are getting thoroughly heated.  Spread some of the preserves over the top of the wheel of brie, then pour the grapes on top.

Adrian Wine and Cheese

 

Sometimes it’s fun to shake up the usual holiday color stories, and go for something a bit more glam, as you can see here with the base colors being a Bright Pink and Dark Navy.  Accents such as gold utensils,  wooden plates and bowls, and dark slate boards added to the rich and sultry look of the table. Adrian also suggests layering tabletop items as a simple way to make the spread look more luxe and dramatic.  Use both a tablecloth and runner, stack a few plates of various sizes upon each other, or use both tall tapered candles and short pillar candles together to add dimension and interest.

20141022_Adrian_158

 

 

Of course, you can’t forget about wine and cheese, the mainstays of such a spread!  We gathered wine from World Market, and tried out mini bottles of various reds so as not to distract from the design of the table.  Adrian loves Whole Foods for their cheese selection, their willingness to let you try different varieties, and for how well trained and informed they are on what they are selling.

When arranging the cheeses you have selected, instead of putting them all on one tray, try spreading them out on different heights and an array of platters.  This gives a little more texture and interest to the table, and keeps the guests moving around, creating more interesting social interactions.

wine and cheese second

 

And finally, to finish off your beautiful table, don’t forget to stop by the market to grab a bouquet or two of flowers.  Adrian suggests gathering blooms in similar color schemes, such as the magentas and oranges below, and then break it all up to customize it for your own unique centerpiece.  You really can never have enough flowers, so if there are extras, arrange small bud vases around the room or across the table as well.

And there you have it!  A relatively quick way to prepare a lovely feast for friends this time of year.  Now open up that wine and enjoy your time with loved ones!

20141022_Adrian_033

 

 

Photos courtesy of KettleWerks, styling by Adrian Perry.

ARRANGING FLOWERS USING REPURPOSED CANNED FOOD

I love when I find beautiful things in my every day routine. There’s something kind of magical about going through the daily grind, and being surprised by an item that is often looked at as mundane, or only serving one purpose.  Coming up with a new use for it is always kind of fun, and feels like a new discovery.

The other day this happened as I was making homemade lasagne….a dish that requires LOTS of canned tomatoes. After opening one too many, I suddenly realized that the packaging on these cans was actually quite pretty. A bright yellow background, with bold lettering and a hand drawn vegetable scene…too lovely to throw in the recycling! I decided to investigate my pantry a little further, and was quite pleased to see how many cans had gorgeous color stories, ethnic prints, or wonderful art….Warhol anyone?

Since the house needed new flowers anyway, I decided to put the cans to good use right then and there. Below we show you the results….take a look in your own kitchen and see what you find. You might be surprised as well!

 

Our materials are easily found and budget friendly. I stopped by Trader Joe’s and grabbed 5 bunches of flowers, which were each under $6. Canned food is usually quite inexpensive, and good to have around the house anyways. I try to save an eye catching can here and there as I cook through my pantry; you never know when you might tire of your regular vases, or need a pretty little last minute hostess gift.

Pretty Fall Flowers in Food Cans

 

I usually go for cans that have bright colors, a vintage or iconic look, or something that looks organic and hand drawn. These qualities tend to work well with lots of different flower types, and look like an intentional finished design. I also go for florals that have durable stems, such as these bright miniature Carnations and rich Dahlias.

20141003_Claire_083

 

Take a moment to match your flowers to the different cans you’ve collected. It’s fun to try to create individual color stories for each one, as there are no rules and you can be as out there or as safe as you’d like.

Matching Fall Flowers to Canned Food

 

Clip the stems to the desired length.  I like the flowers to sit just above the edge of the can, so they don’t droop or wilt to the side.

Arranging Flowers into Canned Food

 

Play around with fullness. Sometimes it’s nice to leave a bouquet a bit more spare and wild looking. Other times it’s great to have a very tight and full bunch that sits perfectly upright in the can. The Sun Valley vase shown below is a good example of one that can take on a more relaxed feel.

Purple Fall Flowers in Canned Food Process

 

With only a few items, you’ve created a handful of pretty and unique bouquets to place around the home in cozy spots, or to give away as surprising gifts to friends. Have fun with all the endless combinations to be found!

20141003_Claire_140

 

All photos by Carlton Canary, for “That Pleasant Surprise”

 

ONE TABLE, TWO WAYS…INDIGO BLUE PORCELAIN FROM JAPAN

Let’s be honest…one of the best parts of hosting a dinner party is the ritual of setting the table.  There’s luxury in those calm moments right before friends arrive, when the house is still pristine, and the night is yet to begin.  I love to unleash a bit of creativity right about then, and the table is the perfect place for unbridled bursts of color, or that perfect neutral restrain.

In this series, we will explore two different ways to design a home tabletop, using one item as our central piece.  Much to my husband’s dismay, I’m always on the hunt for great new home elements.  Whether it’s a Goodwill find, or a versatile new line from a favorite shop, I can always come up with a way to add it into my collection.  By figuring out multiple ways to work with a piece, you are of course saving money on new set ups, but also giving yourself freedom to try out different styles.  I have a hard time deciding whether I am a girl that loves bright poppy vignettes, or one that favors soft, clean whites, so this method allows me to be both, which of course, is always more fun!

A couple of weeks ago, I found these lovelies at a garage sale….

20140630_Claire1Item2ways_2504

 

A set of six small plates designed by the Japanese porcelain company, Koransha, in their original packaging for a real steal!  The company was founded in the 1870s, and makes gorgeous hand painted original designs.  This particular set really spoke to me with it’s deep indigo-violet hue, and bright gold rim.  Modern in it’s simplicity, but rich and warm in color.

20140630_Claire1Item2ways_2502

 

A pretty gold Japanese logo stamp on the back lets us know of it’s origin.

20140630_Claire1Item2ways_2503

 

Our first table is a take on desert neutrals.  Succulents take a stand next to dip dyed linen napkins, and a sand colored runner anchors everything in it’s place.  Our new little plates are perfect for an appetizer on the side of the main course, and pair well with a classic white or ivory china collection, something most of us already have in the cupboard.  Always fun to refresh what we own!

One Table, Two Ways - Indigo Blue with Neutral Accents

 

And now for a bit more of a pop!  This bright floral tablecloth is such fun to work with.  Although it seems busy at first glance, you’d be surprised by how many different pieces work here.  If you treat it as a neutral, and draw from the colors within the pattern, you can create a lively setting that still has some harmony to it all.  I chose to bring in multiple shades of blue…starting with our indigo plates, I worked down the rainbow until I hit that pale robins egg blue base plate, only throwing in a small pink floral note for variation.  Easy and perfect for outdoor entertaining!

One Table, Two Ways - Bright and Floral with Indigo Blue Accents

 

Play around with what you have, and slowly add small, interesting pieces to your collection.  You’ll enjoy being able to change your look from time to time, without breaking the bank!

Similar plates found here, here, and here.

 

Images by Carlton Canary for “That Pleasant Surprise”

 

<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/12962027/?claim=kq6x7p7y47k”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>