Saturday, December 26, 2009

Shadow Shot Sunday

Thomas likes to hide amongst the shadows and blend in with the porch railing for optimal hunting at the bird bath in the flower bed. We're pretty sure most of the birds know he's there and torment him on purpose, as his attempt-to-catch ratio isn't too high. He's not deterred though, and spends quite some time hunkered down in the sun half snoozing, half watching.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Poinsettia Polar Bears

These polar bears were made with 10,000 Ecke poinsettias and are two stories high. They're on display at The Palazzo in Las Vegas.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Shadow Shot Sunday

On the move! This beach squirrel lives in the rip rap lining the bluff and makes an appearance each time we're there. He's quite fearless and doesn't usually back down unless he gets a small treat. So far blueberries have been a big hit!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tara's Kitchen Shelf

Tara's treasures pre-paper.

It's not often that we get to see how our customers use the supplies they find in our shop, so we were just delighted when Tara shared her shelf lining project with us!

Using several sheets of Italian paper, and a very keen eye for pattern matching, she lined the back of her kitchen shelf in about two hours.

All finished!

We love it! Along with a few other treasures, like those salt and peppers and vintage scales.

UPDATE: Here's one more shot with everything put back in place:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Mosaic Monday: Deck the Halls

Please click to enlarge.

Being in the swing of decorating means inspiration is everywhere -- literally! We often put up over twenty trees of different sizes all over the house plus displays on shelves, table tops and, of course, the mantel. With collections spanning two generations, and constantly growing, bringing out our decorations is a tradition unto itself and something we start talking about around the end of summer. While we're by no means finished, we've got several areas well underway and, well, mostly under control.

Starting at the top from left to right:
•A small feather tree with icicle ornaments in the living room.
•A light yellow putz house.
•A golden tinsel tree with handmade ornaments.
•A vintage reindeer guards a bowl of blown glass nuts.
•My first Christmas card of the season, from my dear friend Tracy.
•A Dala horse stands in the dining room window while another small feather tree acts as table centerpiece.
•A vintage Santa -- he's the one thing that stays out all year.
•The living room by night.
•A treasured and whimsical blown glass bear.

Be sure to stop by Little Red House to enjoy all the wonderful mosaics!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Shadow Shot Sunday

Winter is definitely right around the corner, even here in Southern California. On the particularly chilly days I dream of our Santa Ana days where temperatures will climb into the 80s and lure us outside for a stand up paddle.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Vintage Christmas Photos Part VIII: Ansel Adams' 1940 Christmas Show

When one thinks of Ansel Adams, it's usually in the context of his extraordinary pictures of Yosemite Valley and other landscapes in the natural world. In 1940, he turned his lens to 5843 Wilshire Blvd. in downtown Los Angeles to capture this image of the exterior of the Christmas Show. The event ran from Nov. 20th to Dec. 25th, 1940, an effort by the British War Relief Association of Southern California. The Christmas Show included such attractions as a fully decorated and furnished Snowman's Cave, fairyland, gingerbread house, Santa's Castle, magic castle and amusement rides.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New Italian Paper Preview

Here's a preview of four new patterns of Italian paper we're pleased to be adding to our selection of fancy papers. We plan on having these in hand at the beginning of next week.

All Florentine papers have metallic gold accents, are acid free and printer friendly.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Vintage Christmas Photos Part VII: The Many Faces of Santa Claus

Santa Claus wasn't always portrayed as the jolly chap we see so often these days. Coca-Cola had a lot to do with his attitude adjustment back in the 1920s, as they modified his image in a print advertising campaign to promote their soda.

Often, prior to that, Santa was a lot scruffier and not nearly so cheerful, almost scaring children into being good - or else!

In the top photograph, circa 1903, Santa pauses on his way down a chimney and in the second, busy fellow that he is, he's traveling aboard the ship "New York", circa 1910.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Vintage Christmas Photos Part VI: Books on Wheels

In 1949, the city of Los Angeles outfitted 4 large vans with 4,000 books each and sent them into housing developments, shopping centers, parks and schools in low income areas. Each van made twenty-eight 1-3 hour stops a week and between the 4 vans, 250,000 books were checked out per year.

These photographs were taken in 1955 by Joe Friezer, showing the vans fully decorated for Christmas.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Vintage Christmas Photos Part V: Then & Now

In the circa 1940 photograph above, the corner of Grand Avenue and Seventh Street in downtown Los Angeles was a vibrant thoroughfare with numerous pedestrians, automobiles, streetcars and thriving businesses, festooned with Christmas decorations.

Below, the same intersection today, courtesy of Google Earth, looks terribly boring.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

An Advent Calendar Feature

We're very happy to have discovered that our advents are featured on a Spanish blog called!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Holiday Project Supplies

Crafting season is in full swing! If you're looking for supplies for creating everything from a gift to the paper to wrap it in, look no further than the Etsy Supply Street Team.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vintage Christmas Photos Part IV: When He's Not Driving the Sleigh

In Independence, Iowa in 1913, no Santa Claus car outdid this rig, decorated with moose and deer heads, a tree and tinsel festooning.

Monday, November 9, 2009

New Putz House Styles

Here's a peek at two putz houses just added to our website.

We make our putz houses entirely by hand from scratch in our California studio. From design to construction to finishing, we spend hours meticulously detailing each piece with carefully chosen elements -- like vintage mercury glass beads, Dresden trim and natural mica -- to capture the charm and elegance of traditional vintage putz houses and the Christmas season.

With cellophane in the windows and a hole in back to accommodate a light, you'll be amazed at how our little houses can whisk you off to your own Christmas dreamland. We include a battery powered flickering tea light for illuminating your house safely.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Vintage Christmas Photos Part III: Christmas For All

The District Jail in Washington, D.C. didn't scrimp when it came to decorating for the holidays. This circa 1909-1932 photograph shows the inmates gathered around their Christmas tree.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Victorian Homes December 2009 Issue

We're very happy to share that three of our ornaments plus one keepsake set have been featured on a page of Victorian Homes Christmas issue. You can click here to see the featured pieces on our website, or click the photo below for a closer look. The keepsake set has already sold out, but you can see what's available by clicking here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Vintage Christmas Photos Part II: Santa Hits a Home Run

Above, these neighborhood girls in 1922 San Francisco all made sure Santa knew they wanted dolls, and he obviously didn't disappoint.

In 1949, this brother and sister posed happily in front of their Christmas tree in their cowboy and cowgirl outfits.

And in 1927, this young man set up a makeshift baseball diamond in the backyard of the San Francisco's Aki Hotel, to break in his new catcher's glove.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Autumn Moon

Crystal clear weather led us down to the beach this evening to shoot a few surfing pictures. Little did we know, this one of the moon would turn out to be the real gem. Click to enlarge and you'll see pits and craters, shadows and texture galore. It seems so close!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lighthouses off the Coast of France

The above video can only make one wonder if the lighthouse keeper was at home during the storm. I'm not sure if the photo below is a still from this video, but it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up nonetheless.

Jument Lighthouse in France.

A bit of digging on the history of these French lighthouses revealed this:
Some lighthouses were built under incredible conditions on rocks that were submerged at high tide, and in locations affected by strong currents and fierce storms. The lighthouse at Armen, the most legendary of all, is built on a rock which emerges to a height of just 1.50 metres at low tide, right in the middle of the Raz de Sein. When time allowed, the construction workers drilled a hole for the future anchoring bars. The first year they drilled only 15 holes and only 34 the next year. Throughout the whole of the year 1870, they could only work for 8 hours and for 6 hours in 1873. The construction of Armen was to take 14 years. Construction of the lighthouse known as the Jument, near Ouessant, was to take 7 years.
(Read more here.)

Armen lighthouse.

It seems that as time marches on, the upkeep of these lighthouses has fallen by the wayside. GPS and modern technology have made the lighthouse keeper all but obsolete and the maintenance of offshore locales is challenging and costly. Some have become tourist attractions, but those at sea are too dangerous to approach. There's a fascinating article here that goes into more detail about the state, and fate, of these French lighthouses.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Favorite Garden Visitors

Hummingbirds are frequent visitors to our most vibrant flowers and some of our favorite garden guests. These shots were taken around San Diego County by local photographer Chris Mayne.

This little guy above is an extremely rare leucistic hummingbird -- almost albino, but not quite due to his dark eyes and beak.

All in a day's work, this Anna's Hummingbird takes a break on a dewy leaf. And, yes, he's sticking out his tongue.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Vintage Christmas Photos Part I: Christmas for the Horses

In 1918, these kind souls in Washington, D.C. made sure that horses and drivers were remembered at Christmas, with a special tree hung with apples and carrots for the horses and hot coffee for the drivers.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thomas and the Disappearing Gophers: A Natural Solution to Stop the Digging

Can you spot Thomas above?

Last year our yards were riddled with gopher holes -- in the lawn, in the flower beds, even the empty field next door had a series of dirt mounds and a subterranean maze of tunnels. Not the neighborhood cats nor the hose discouraged the digging, and one by one our daffodils and bulbs disappeared, plants keeled over with roots eaten to the crown and our frustration levels rose. It only got worse when we saw one of the gophers come part way out of a hole to eat fresh grass shoots -- he was absolutely ADORABLE! So we stopped watering down his soil mounds and filling his tunnels with water and just hoped he'd eventually move along to a different yard. He stayed.

Our favorite visitor, Thomas.

For the last 6 months we haven't seen hide nor hair of the gopher or any evidence of digging. Turns out that an old wives tale of sorts was put into effect and worked like a charm! According to my grandmother, if you put a tuft of cat fur inside the gopher's holes, he'll think a predator is always patiently waiting and move along.

Hiding in the ferns.

Pictured is Thomas, donor of fur and indirect eradicator of gophers. He lives across the street, but shows up for pets, treats and the occasional nap. He has his own brush (source of fur for putting in holes), is treated like he's our own and likes to hide in the ferns by my bird bath and startle unsuspecting birds. While Thomas would have preferred to actually capture the gophers, we couldn't be more pleased that he was around to lend us a hand in another way.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Recipe Thursday: Avocado Bean Salad (& shop news)

One of our all-time favorite treats is the Barefoot Contessa's Avocado Bean salad. With color, texture, flavor, and fresh ingredients, this salad really has it all. It's so delicious, you'll be hard pressed not to devour the entire bowl, even though the following recipe serves six.

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and 1/2-inch diced
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 c. small diced red onion
2 tbsp. minced jalapeno peppers, seeded (2 peppers)
1/2 tsp freshly grated lime zest
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lime juice (2 limes)
1/4 c. olive oil
1 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
2 ripe avocadoes, seeded, peeled, and 1/2-inch diced

1. Place the tomatoes, yellow pepper, black beans, red onion, jalapeño peppers, and lime zest in a large bowl.
2. Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, salt, black pepper, garlic, and cayenne pepper and pour over the vegetables.
3. Toss well.
4. Just before you're ready to serve, fold the avocados into the salad.

And in shop news: The ric rac has landed!
And it's absolutely gorgeous! Here's a sampling of all the new colors. The first photo shows the velvet options, while the second photo shows the velveteen. You'll notice the scallops of the velveteen are slightly rounder; it also has a thicker pile. These are from different manufacturers and, ironically, the measurement of 3/8" wide differs slightly between styles -- the velvet is about 1/16" wider while the velveteen is spot on 3/8". Go figure. You can find these here.