Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day weekend get-away ideas and gifts

Hi to you. So Valentine’s Day is a week away and as such, here are some ideas for the makings of a supremely romantic February 14th and beyond….

 

1. A Destination Not Too Far Away. Getting out of town to somewhere new and tucked away with your special person is so romantic — an unfamiliar environment to explore, hotel sheets and the anticipation of what awaits…

Brewery Gulch Inn, Mendocino, CA

A few weeks ago I got an email promotion for a Valentine's Day package at this charming inn in the coastal town of Mendocino. I'd never heard of it, but bookmarked it for a possible future weekend get-away. The promotion is sold out, but it did get the wheels turning to prompt me to write this post…

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They've compiled a fantastic itinerary of activities in the area. Check it out here.

2. Love Songs. This is my playlist. Start playing this in the car on the way…

John Legend – All of Me 

Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight

Wings/Paul McCartney – Maybe I'm amazed

Journey – Faithfully

Oasis – Wonderwall

Bruno Mars – Just the way you are

Joe Cocker – You are so beautiful

George Michael – Father figure

Diana Ross & Lionel Richie – Endless Love (the theme song to the movie – also my first date ever)

Billy Joel – Just the way you are

Roberta Flack – Killing me softly (well, it's technically probably not a love song, but the melody is great. Lauren Hill and the Fugees did a remake and it's equally fantastic.)

Peter Gabriel – In your eyes

Marvin Gaye – Let's get it on

Michael Bolton singing the Percy Sledge song – When a man loves a woman

Barry White – You're my first, my last, my everything

The Rolling Stones – Wild Horses

Dido – Thank you

 

3. Small Tokens. It's the little things that count – or at least they should. Forget the red heart-shaped box. 

Chocolove XOXO  I'm addicted to them. As an added bonus, they also tuck a love note into each wrapper. Here are my three favorites (the first one is the #1 selling chocolate bar in the US)

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Glassybaby. One of my Top Ten gifts to give and receive, these pretty votives come in every color of the rainbow. Below are the selected Valentine's Day offerings.

 

Glassybaby

 

Glassybaby-V-Day-Donation
 

Eberjey - This line of affordable lingerie offers a beautiful selection of tasteful yet sexy pieces. 

Eberjey
 

4. Love Notes. A handwritten note or doodle from and to the one you love.  So much better than a text.

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  Love_note2
 

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope you get all the love and chocolate your heart desires!

xoxo

Serena

Pink_roses

 

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My Overnight at Holman Ranch

My Overnight at Holman Ranch

A few weeks ago I received an invitation for a one-night stay, property tour, dinner and wine tasting at Holman Ranch in Monterey County.  There were about 15 people attending the event – other bloggers, journalists and travel writers. In exchange for our stay, we were asked to write and photograph our experience and share it with our readers. Here you go – I hope you enjoy it!

Holman Ranch is located in Carmel Valley, about a two and a half hour drive from San Francisco. Not to be confused with it's tempermental neighbor; Carmel-by-the-Sea where the weather is typically overcast and the climate cooler. Carmel Valley has on average 300 days of sunshine per year. 

The Wine

Located 12 miles inland from the coast, and nestled among the Santa Lucia mountains, this region is prime for grape growing, mostly Pinot Noir.

Holman ranch pinot
The ranch produces many other varietals on approximately 19 acres. All wines produced by Holman Ranch are 'Estate' meaning they are made strictly from grapes grown on the property. The wines we sampled were all excellent, but the Pinot Noir was exceptional. I purchased several bottles as well as the Pinot Noir Rose which I can't wait to try!

Holman ranch vineyard
In addition to Holman Ranch, there are several other tasting rooms all located next door to one other along the main street in town (separate from the vineyard and ranch). Monterey County was named a “Top 10 Wine Destination” for 2013 by Wine Enthusiast magazine.

To purchase Holman Ranch Wines, please click here. To join their wine club click here.


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 I ran into these two in front of the tasting room.

 The Property

The property was purchased by it's current owners — the Lowder family– in 2006. A complete renovation, refurbishment and landscaping overhaul is now complete. It is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places I have ever seen.

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There are 10 cabins like the one I stayed in (above and below) on the property that each sleep up to four people. There is one larger cabin with a full kitchen that can sleep up to six. When an event is booked at Holman Ranch, the entire property — all 11 cabins, hacienda, game room and grounds — are reserved exclusively for your group. 

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This is the larger cabin below.

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This gate separates the cabin area from the main celebration area.

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The landscaping is informal and cared for impeccably. For example, the lawn is the same grass variety as the PGA uses and a special lawn mower was purchased to keep it at 1/4".  

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At the end of the lawn is an overlook where wedding ceremonies take place. It is just about the most romantic place I could imagine getting married. 

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Wedding receptions are held just a few steps from the lawn in this gorgeous courtyard. This converted carriage house is now a deluxe game room with a full bar set-up, comfortable furniture, billiards, and other activites.

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After dinner, the barn is ready for dancing all night.


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In every direction there was something beautiful to look at. 


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Our dinner was held on an intimate patio just off the hacienda.

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Surrounded by gardens.

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Inside this hacienda is a conference space, a chapel and grand living room with stone fireplace.

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Holman Ranch is currently booking weddings for 2015. To learn more about weddings at Holman Ranch click here.

To contact Holman Ranch, click here.

Thank you to gracious hosts Hunter and Nick! 

 

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Traditional Home Napa Valley Showhouse and my birthday weekend.

Traditional Home Napa Valley Showhouse and my birthday weekend.

I'm short on words today, but wanted to show you photos from my birthday weekend a few weeks ago which I spent in wine country. It was perfect in every way.

Traditional Home magazine – with the help of a bevvy of talented designers – transformed the guest cottage located on the grounds of Cardinale Winery into one of the most impressive showhouses I've seen.  It was our first stop.

The view from the driveway.


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I liked this rock wall, so I took a photo to keep on file for future landscaping inspiration.


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The foyer designed by Kathy Geissler.


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I loved the rug, especially with the Fortuny pillows and antique bench.


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The library was designed by Cathleen Gouveia – a veteran of Bay Area showhouses. Her rooms never disappoint. She puts so much thought into the details.


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The walls are venetian plaster.


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The living room was designed by Sunrise Home of San Rafael.


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Great lessons to be learned in styling bookshelves.


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A close-up of these linen and nail head uphostered pieces.
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The dining room was designed by Joe Lucas.


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My absolute favorite room was the kitchen, designed by Barbara Colvin. Check this out.


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I really liked the gray cabinets + bronze hardware. Bronze and brass are a huge trend in kitchen and bath fixtures these days. 


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I ususally don't gravitate to bright neon colors, but these stools in lime green worked beautifully with the gray. I may be a convert.


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The paint colors she used…I think from Pratt & Lambert.


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Here is the adjascent family room, also designed by Barbara Colvin.


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The table was an existing piece belonging to the homeowner. The armchairs are by Lee Industries.


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French doors in the family room lead you to the patio and this view.  They were pouring wines from Cardinale, so we took a moment to sit and savour them and the scenery.


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The bench cushion and big pillow fabric is by Martin Lawrence Bullard. 


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The lower level lounge was designed by Elizabeth Cameron and Kathleen Pfaff.


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Cool piece of art – I think it's an actual grape vine.


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My other favorite room was the Master Bedroom designed by Melanie Turner.


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I didn't get a shot of the bed! Darn! It was so pretty.


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Melanie turner patio via roughluxe

The guest suite was designed by Melanie Coddington.


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This is a close-up of the wallpaper in the bathroom. It's so pretty.


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The showhouse was not big, but the rooms were cohesive and worked together. 

Here are a few random photos from our weekend…

We went to a fruit and wreath farm on Saturday morning.


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Hi there little bee.


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Later we went wine tasting. The most beautiful was Bella (the wines were good too!)


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Inside the cave.


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This is a ceiling mounted art piece.


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Driving to Geyserville for lunch.


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The driveway into Trefethen Vineyard. Gorgeous!


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After our visit to the Traditional Home Showhouse, we were smitten with Cardinale Vineyards and scheduled a private tasting on Sunday. Here is what was served. The wines were outstanding (with prices to match).


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Last but not least, the spectacular Carneros Inn.


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It was an amazing weekend. The birthday festivities continue… Girlfriends arriving from Seattle this weekend for some SF fun!

Wishing you a fun filled weekend too!

 

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Happy Fourth!

Happy Fourth!

Happy Birthday USA!

As many Americans did this morning in their own hometowns, my daughter Lily and I attended our local 4th of July Parade. 

While every part of the country is unique and each parade reflects the local community, most 4th of July parades have the same basic elements. Here's how we roll in Northern California…

An official parade Grand Master…

Parade motorcycle

Fire trucks…

Firetruck


Fire truck

The High School Football team…

Parade - Redwood

A marching band…

G&L marching band

A couple a tanks…

Parade - tanks

The local art school…

Aquabug

We got into the spirit too at my little shop just down the street a few blocks…

FarmHouseUrban - 4th of July

Aren't mid-week holidays awesome?  Happy Fourth of July everyone!

 

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The week in review

The week in review

It's been a whirlwind around here this past week!  Take a look…

Saturday – Margaret and I attended the motherlode of estate sales. Here are just a few of the treasures we scored…

Vintage

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It turns out the house belongs to George Lucas and the occupant was his personal Assistant for the past 30 years.  The most incredible part was that he wrote Star Wars on a legal pad in one of the upstairs rooms!  Goosebumps, I tell you. I look forward to sharing more soon.

Sunday – Father's Day

Monday – Met with reps to see new products for the store and clients. New smaller items – tabletop, accessories and hostess gifts coming!

Placed orders for a new client's 'FarmHouseUrban" living room.

 

Dhurrie

Beachy Striped Wool Dhurrie

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Simple Slipcovered sofa


Coffee table

Awesome Coffee Table 

Tuesday – Went to a former client's home to start working on a new project. Great to be working with her again and her gorgeous home.  

In the early evening, I headed up to St. Helena to visit girlfriend Cristine. Tuesday's is her Bocce Ball night, so I met her at the Bocce Ball park.  They take Bocce very seriously in wine country. 

Afterwards, we went to the new restaurant French Blue, designed and owned by Howard Backen (the architect whose work I have admired for.like.ever.)

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French Blue - cabinetry

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Wednesday – Margaret and I worked on the online store.  Fine tuning the look + feel, getting all the product images uploaded, the descriptions written, making sure measurements and pricing is accurate takes a loooong time.

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Still tweaking the logo…

In the afternoon, I made a stop to my woodworker's shop to check on the prototype for a new piece for the FarmHouseUrban Home Collection.  Here is a sneak peek at the FarmHouseUrban dining table!

FarmHouseUrban farm table

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Thursday – Stopped in to check on the status of a kitchen and family room renovation I've been working on. It's been a really fun project and I can't wait to show you more photos when the space is complete.

Fireplace detail1

What to do with a monolith of a fireplace when the client doesn't like stone or wood? Raised panels in a geometric design!

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Paint

Deciding which shade of warm gray…

Friday – Made a quick trip to the city to my favorite discount fabric store to look for a tweedy woven for an ottoman.  I didn't find anything, but did end up in the waaaay back intrigued by these retro (retro as in they've probably been here since the 60's, not new retro) Hawaiian prints.  Perhaps it has something to do with watching "The Decendants" recently?

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Hawaiian print

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I'd love to make big pillows out of these for outdoors.  They're not made of acrylic fabric, but at $8 per yard, even if they lasted one season it wouldn't be a huge loss.  My sewing skills are a bit rusty (plus, hello, I have no time!), so I guess I'll have to pass.  

Here's to a relaxing Sunday! Hope you have a chance to put your feet up today!

 

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An evening (or three) in wine country

An evening (or three) in wine country

Despite the fact that the Napa Valley is only about an hour away, I rarely attend evening events there.  It's just a little too far to make the wine + dark roads doable. That said, this past week there happened to be three occasions that I simply couldn't refuse. And they were on consecutive nights.  I know, poor me, right?

The first (and only that I took photos of) was at Scribe Winery in Sonoma.  I've been hearing so much about this place lately – not just the wine being amazing, but the setting/vibe sounded pretty cool too.

So on Thurs evening, my wine savvy friend Elizabeth (check out my post about her weekly wine picks here) and I drove up to attend a food and wine event which paired Scribe wines with food by Bar Tartine (San Francisco).

I'll let the photos tell the story…

Scribe - sign

Scribe - vineyard

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Scribe - palms

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Scribe - CA flag

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Scribe - swing

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Scribe - Kumquats

Scribe - platters

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For info on Scribe Winery click here.

 

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