Monday, September 15, 2014

Dancing in a citrus grove...

The final night of our stay in Santa Barbara, as if we hadn't already had way too much fun at all of these extraordinary fetes, we were invited to the most beautifully decorated dinner dance at El Encanto. When the bride told me that the theme for the evening was all about citrus I knew I had to sneak down to the venue early, to sleuth around a bit because "citrus" is one of my great passions, and, of course, I'm always curious to explore great party themes and notions, which I love to share. 


And that's how I learned that these trees are actually, kind of, "manufactured", but all out of the real thing. They secured this trunk on the ground, using a wooden stand, weighted down with bags of sand, which were covered up with sheets of sod.

Then they cut the prettiest fruited branches from the trees in the orchard and attached them with a nail gun, not an easy job this one, but the results were phenomenal.

I noticed they also applied a trick I frequently have to do with my dining room citrus at home, they used paddle wire to attach fruit onto the branches at key spots {if you look closely you can see the ends of the wires on the orange below}. The affect is so fabulous, imagine glancing up from the dinner table and seeing plump oranges hanging overhead.

To enhance the citrus theme, the tables were topped with dahlias, orchids and other flowers in citrus~y shades and collections of colorful fruit. I loved this rustic farm table with ghost chairs that was used for the head table.

The green table runner was a perfectly natural choice to contrast the bright colored fruit and flowers.

Here is how they created the same theme on the round tables in the room, this look would be so easy to recreate at home, especially now when dahlia's are in full bloom in most of the northern hemisphere. 

Isn't the total affect amazing? It was beautiful to the eye, but also felt so naturally comfortable and  intimate. It makes me want to wire fruit onto the tree in my backyard, load it with hanging candles and drag a table beneath it to set for dinner this weekend.

In contrast to the rustic farm table, gilded french style furniture, from fabulous {found}, a vintage furnishing rental company in the LA area, was used to create sitting areas around the room, making me think of L'orangerie du Chateau de Versailles.

As always, the place~settings designed by this thoughtful friend made each guest feel so very special, honored and welcomed to come at the table.

So many little beautiful views everywhere we looked.

But now, back to reality.
What's on your docket for the week? 

I'm in the midst of a "back to reality" organizing blitz. Among other projects, I'm finally claiming my "office" {aka the bodega} as my new command center. Hopefully, this will lead to a more organized, streamlined future pour moi, and what could be nicer than that?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Summer continues...

It still feels like summer here in Seattle, the weather is promising to stay in the 80's for the next 3 days. So we're thoroughly looking forward to enjoying all of the pleasures that a late summer provides, including sweet tomatoes and fragrant tomato vines.... I'm craving gazpacho, beautiful gazpacho, creative gazpacho, any kind of gazpacho....

and heavy, ripe, local peaches that taste of honey. This is my favorite new lunch, slices of ripe peaches, feta cheese, roasted almonds, parsley, olive oil and freshly ground pepper. Give it a try, over greens if you'd like. Or try my favorite peachy breakfast bowl.

I'm amazed by how easy it is to pull together a house full of garden bouquets these days. Remaining flowers, mixed with a melange of greens always look great.

What are you looking forward to this weekend? I hope it's splendid!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It was a beautiful day...

On the morning of the wedding, I knew we'd be attending an exquisite occasion that evening, though I really didn't realize the entire scope of what was to come. My dear friend, the bride, has a never ending level of talents, including amazing taste, thoughtfulness and passion, all of which shined through that evening.

But a few things happened before I made it to that glorious place setting.

I have to admit, it was hard for me to get out of my comfy, casually canopied bed that morning, seriously, I could have LIVED in that bed for days (and they do have great room service at The Ranch).

And this personalized stationary made me want to linger even longer, to write a thoughtful letter or two.

But, I managed to rise and shine, 

and enjoy all of the lovely collectibles that made our cottage so comfortable as we got ready for the day.

We stopped by The Hacienda for advice on finding the trail, 
where they were filling the wooden bowl on the desk with lemons, just picked from the grove.

We loved the dramatic views of mountains, canyons, streams, rock formations and forests on the hike, and, as a bonus, I found these almost iridescent blue feathers to stick in my cap.

Then there was lunch at Cava (which I may cover later) and then there was a brief lounging time at the pool and then, just like that, it was time for the wedding. 

It was fun to be on site while the crew implemented all of the brides' visions for the big occasion. 

While I thought the garden sanctuary, where the ceremony was to be held, looked simply lovely as it was when I cruised by in the morning before the hike,

 it was so much more spectacular when the Chuppah was loaded with flowers and the pale blue seat cushions were in place.

Before the ceremony we had cocktails in the garden, 

near a lovely, tranquil lillypond, 

next to which Monet would have loved to have perched his easel.

There actually was an easel perched nearby, and a palette... because there was an artist on the lush green lawn, 

                                                         capturing the scene on canvas.

Luscious indigo paper fans, embossed with copper lettering kept us cool and let everyone know who was who and what was what and where we should be when.

The entire wedding party looked so very beautiful and happy as they walked to the front of the garden
to the gentle strumming of a guitar. 

After the ceremony, we found our table assignments on this rustic weathered gate ladened with hops and flowers 

and butterflies.

The setting at the Stonehouse restaurant was a sight to behold, so rich with colors and textures and sheer, natural beauty... it almost looked more like a Danish Master floral painting than real life.

Mix~matched dishes and cutlery surprised each place setting.

Each of the perfectly pressed and draping white linen napkins were unique as well.

It was romantic ranch style dining at it's finest.

                 Above us, delphiniums and hops provided the illusion of dining in a grape arbor.

I loved the contrast between the casual bouquets which included blackberries and scarred pomegranates

and the formal cut crystal glasses.

After the feast, toasts, lovefest, there was dancing in the courtyard of The Old Adobe at the ranch.

Our brilliant Bride had rented enticing furniture from {found}, an incredible vintage rental outfit in California, you should look at the abundance of amazing inventory on their site, much more pleasing than your usual rental fare.

The beautifully furnished adobe allowed those who needed a break from the dance floor to gather with friends in this welcoming, comfortable setting.

When we finally turned in for the night... maybe there were chocolates on our pillow, or maybe not, or maybe there were and my daughter ate them, but that's okay...

I was completely content to find this little nosegay of rosemary, lavender, and a rose that was left on                             my pillow

Friday, September 5, 2014

Lush tablescapes with ease, San Ysidro Ranch

I slipped away to Santa Barbara for an incredibly beautiful wedding, on many different levels, for a very special friend. The wedding and most of the festivities were held at the SanYsidro Ranch. The unique and special qualities of The Ranch are apparent from the moment you turn into the soft colored lavender and olive tree lined lane. As you continue up the lane you can't help but to relax as you take in the beautifully landscaped property filled with lush greens, flowers, a citrus grove and a chefs garden filled with organic vegetables and herbs that are used for the amazing meals in the restaurant.  

On our first evening there, we were welcomed with a lovely outdoor dinner beneath a rich green canopy of loquat leaves. It was a great time to connect with old friends and meet new friends and family. The setting allowed us to savor the warm weather and maximize this charming indoor~outdoor living space well into the evening. 

 I gleaned a number of notions on how to enjoy these final days of warm weather to the fullest in this cozy and elegant scene where we dined. I loved all of the rustic wooden benches topped with an eclectic mix of soft pillows.

A casual combination of votive candles and simple bouquets of single species garden flowers made lush looking tablescapes because they were intertwined with bay laurel and eucalyptus leaf garlands. It's amazing how the use of the garland tied this look all together, don't you think? 

Imagine the setting below without the garland.. the bouquets would have looked awkward, but the garland ties it all together, with ease.

 I snapped this pile of garlands when they were breaking down the tables at the end of the night. You could also just use branches of leaves if you didn't want to make/buy the garlands. 

Here they used one of my favorite garden flowers for one of the bouquets, Catmint (nepta), I have these in my courtyard, I love the soft gray~green leaves, the sharp scent and the beautiful blue flowers, and the bees and hummingbirds love them even more. I think the white flowers in the bouquet to the right {and 2nd from the top of this post} is a type of Salvia (lamiaceae).

Snowberries or Coralberries (symphoricarpos) grow wild here in the PNW, they're so pretty and they also dry well.

OH, You just can't go wrong when you pair blue with orange in my book.

Spotlights in the overhanging trees were camouflaged with hollowed out gourds.

These roses are quite cultivated, 

but a few roses go a long way when combined with greens and garden flowers.

There scent was a thick perfume of spicy vanilla, so dreamy!

Speaking of scents, this orange tree dominates the entrance to the Stonehouse restaurant. The last time I was there it was in full bloom... ethereal.

One of the things I miss most about the Ranch is the constant buzz of the hummingbirds and the delicate passings of the butterflies.

I hope you have a great weekend, the warm weather is back in town for us, and I'm hoping to make the most of it.