True North:  Seattle Style

True North: Seattle Style

Hello sweet people. I just got back. As always it was a wonderful trip. Mostly a girlfriend lovefest, as I have friendships there that span 15 to 35 years. When I moved to California 10 years ago, I left Seattle without hesitation. Didn’t look back…. except for one thing – those gals. Over the course of the week+, we spent time both one on one and sometimes in groups – memories of our young mommy years made us laugh at the things we took sooo seriously way back when, or reflected for a moment to express sadness or gratitude for the curveballs of life that have affected us all. It’s both a comfort and blessing to have these ladies by my side and me to there’s. That’s my biggest takeaway from the trip – to cherish the special people in your life. 

It’s a one foot in front of the other kind of week. Hope yours is great wherever you are…

xo

s

Despite gracious offers to stay with friends, I always rent a short term vacation place when I’m in Seattle. The alone time, ability to keep my own hours, eat what and when I want, etc is how I recharge. In all the years of spending a chunk of the summer there, I’ve only had one semi-negative experience and that was due to the neighbors below keeping nocturnal hours. Being an incredibly light sleeper, I made a note to self – never to stay in a duplex or similar situation. Ideally, a small cottage close to or in my former neighborhood is where I’m happiest. As long as it’s clean, I really don’t have any other requirements. Well, this year the bar has been raised. Behold.

Ironed sheets – really? Dark chocolate, cheese & crackers, coffee and half and half waiting for me – seriously? I was in total heaven,

Moving on to my favorite dish ALL-STAR… There are favorite dishes and there are Shut The Front Door and put the Do Not Disturb sign out favorites. This is the case with what I’m about to share with you. Welcome to Ba Bar.I discovered this gem a couple of summers ago when the place we rented was around the corner. It’s open for breakfast – think Vietnamese coffee and an almond croissant (it’s Vietnamese thus the French influenced breakfast offerings). We ended up eating there just about every day. Since it’s open until 4AM, it’s great for those Dinner #2 situations or when you are out late and starving and want a great sit-down meal. There are two locations and a third coming soon, but I highly recommend you only go to the Capital Hill one.

Best dish at Ba Bar Seattle

I grew up on Queen Anne Hill, home to many movie and TV show filmings, but also home to one – if not THE – most famous and photographed outlooks in Seattle. I used to ride my bike there with my dog running along many a day growing up. Whole lotta memories came flooding back… whoa. Anyway, on a whim I decided to go back on the night of the full moon. If you’re in Seattle and into views 🙂 check out Kerry Park.

Full moon view from Kerry Park, Seattle

The last place I want to share with you is a newly opened lunch and dinner restaurant and the spot of an absolutely decadent afternoon spent with a girlfriend. I know I shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover – or rather – a restaurant by it’s interiors, but I do!!! This place had me at hello. I highly recommend Harry’s Fine Foods.

Harry''s Fine Foods, Seattle

Harry's Fine Foods, Seattle

Harry's Fine Foods, Seattle

Harry's Fine Foods, Seattle

Harry's Fine Foods, Seattle

Harry's Fine Foods, Seattle

This cake was so delicious. I ate most of it we shared it.

*On an administrative note* if you were a subscriber to FarmHouseUrban and no longer receive posts conveniently delivered to your inbox – I’m so sorry! All previous subscribers were lost when we changed blog platforms and seem to be unretrievable. I sincerely hope you will resubscribe! For those new to the blog, thank you! If you like what you see (and if you made it down here, that’s a good sign :)), I would love you to subscribe so you can receive posts as soon as they are published. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What to do if you have 24 hours in Palo Alto

What to do if you have 24 hours in Palo Alto

Hi to you… I hope this week has been a good one. Mother’s Day is this Sunday, so I’d like to wish all of the mother’s out there a very happy day. When my kids were little, I used to say that my greatest wish on Mother’s Day was to spend it not having to change diapers, load or unload anything, or be beholden to any sort of schedule. No gifts please. No dinner or brunch reservations thank you. Just one day void of responsibility. Now that the kids are older, I still don’t want gifts, just their time, Hearing them tell stories about their lives, what they listen to, read, watch, find interesting and are passionate about. It’s ever-changing at their ages. That’s all I want for Mother’s Day.

xo

Serena

Recently, I spent a day in Palo Alto and realized how fun it can be to put on visitor glasses in an area close to home. The drive from Marin County (where I live) to Silicon Valley is about an hour or more on a lite traffic day, and hours if there’s a problem. So, usually when I need to go down there for a short amount of time it’s sort of a major hassle. When the situation presented itself that I would have an entire day in Palo Alto with no set schedule, I decided to embrace it. Here’s what I did, all of which I recommend:

I started the morning here. First, let me say that I’m not a coffee drinker. I’ve been a tea drinker for the past 15 years or so, mostly because it’s not good for my skin and it jacks me up waaay too much. That said, I have heard such rave reviews from so many coffee aficionado friends, that I had to give it a try. They make each cup of brewed coffee (no frothy drinks) individually. Asking what roast level, intensity, etc you prefer. It was kind of exciting. Like wizards making tinctures only its baristas making coffee.There are locations all over the Bay Area and a couple in DC. I highly recommend trying their coffee. It was outstanding. Now I’m good for another 15 years.

Phil Coffee in Palo Alto

Next I went on a run around the Stanford dish. What is the Stanford dish? Find out here. So, I have mixed reviews on running this because it’s 75% up hill then, of course, down hill and the grade is pretty steep in places. If you like that much variation in a 5ish mile run, then you will enjoy it. On the positive side, the views are amazing! The other issue I had was the wild life. I saw them from a long way away and assumed they’d move over.

Stanford Dish running path

They did not.

I had to run all the way out in the field around them, then I got scared one was a bull.

Next, I had a few hours of work and sometimes Starbucks just doesn’t cut it (no offense Starbuck’s! Actually, that’s where I’m writing this now :)). But being in the heart of Silicon Valley, I knew there had to be someplace out of the box and incubator-ish, And, there sure was. This place.

HanaHaus in Palo Alto - exterior

From the street, you walk through a courtyard which is has work station seating if you like to do your work outside.

HanaHaus Palo Alto - interior Blue Bottle coffee shop

Inside, there is a nice coffee and snack bar. And this cool floor!

And this mural!

HanaHaus - interior work space

And this is the work space. There is a small hourly fee for using this part of the space which is where I was. There is ample public space to work too (no fee) in the coffee shop area.

For lunch, I wanted to go someplace within walking distance so I could go back above work space to work after. So I met a friend for a quick salad here.

After I finished working, I took a walk down the street to look at a gift idea I had in mind for Luke at this toy store for Millenials. He’s got an internship this summer in South San Francisco and the company provides bus transportation to and from for it’s Marin employees. It’s about 3/4 of a mile from our house to the bus and we have more people than cars, soooo I’m anticipating the potential situation and had the idea to get Luke this…

These are electric skateboards. I thought it was a brilliant idea at the time, as Luke rides his regular skateboard all around his college campus and SF when he’s home. NOT happening! These things go 25+ mph. I think a bike is in order.

While I didn’t stay in Palo Alto for dinner on this particular day, I do have a place that I love, I went several years ago and have wanted to go back. It’s the sister restaurant of Kokkari in San Francisco which is one of my all-time favorite places especially if you are looking for a romantic place with delicious Greek cuisine and sharable dishes. The Palo Alto location – equally delicious and romantic – you can find here.

That’s it for my tips – if you have any Palo Alto favorites to add, please leave them in the comments so everyone can see them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A New Year, A New Look and A New Favorite Word

A New Year, A New Look and A New Favorite Word


Hello sweet readers and Happy New Year to each and every one of you!  I’m back at long last. The reason for the extended hiatus is that I wanted to wait until the new site was fully functioning and ready for you. That day has finally arrived, so I’m thrilled to introduce the new and improved FarmHouseUrban!

Besides switching platforms from Typepad to WordPress, there were several changes made to the site both aesthetically and structurally. The most notable — larger images, pin buttons on each photo, new navigation tabs that make it easier (and hopefully more fun) to find exactly what you are interested in and inspired by and social media buttons all over the place so we can stay connected. I sincerely hope you like it and welcome your feedback.

On an administrative note* if you are a subscriber and are not receiving your posts anymore, I suggest that you re-subscribe. The switching over of subscribers is not as straightforward as one would hope, and as such, I suspect that some feeds might get lost in the transfer process. The subscribe box is located above under the “Connect” tab and also at the bottom of the page.

Many thanks and much love,

xo

serena

I’ve been noticing the Danish word Hygge (pronounced HOO-gah) cropping up everywhere lately and was intrigued to learn more. Afterall, the Danes are considered the happiest people on earth and in such a cold climate too, so I wanted to know how they kept their spirits up during the dark, chilly days of winter. While there is no exact English translation, the closest (and my favorites) are:

Coziness of the soul

The art of creating intimacy

Taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things

Cozy togetherness

In case you’ve been inspired to create your own little hygge, here are some ideas to get you jumpstarted..

Faux Sheepskin Rugs

Chocolate Orange Olive Oil Cake. Recipe here.

I can’t stop thinking about these hand knit socks… the way the flowers wrap around. So cute!

Get them here.

100% pure beeswax – the best. 

Chunky Blanket

No matter where we are in the world, we can all use a little hygge. I think anyway 🙂

If you want to read more about Hygge, here are some recent articles:  NY Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, The Washington Post

 

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Composition and the Art of Placement

Composition and the Art of Placement

A selection of interior spaces that illustrate composition in design.

Hi loves. I hope Thanksgiving was wonderful for those of you who celebrated. Ours was cozy and joyful. Luke was home, which always makes the household feel even more festive. There certainly is a lot for which to be grateful.

I tested a few new versions of the usual favorites with positive reviews. Instead of the tried and true apple pie with a top crust, I made a deep dish version with a crumb/streusel topping. The pie is baked in a spring form pan, so the crust-to-apples ratio is perfect. The recipe (below) I used is from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (so great!). Her blog with many more apple dessert recipes is here.

My second twist on the traditional was with the pumpkin pie – daring – I know! I used Martha Stewart’s recipe for pumpkin cream pie with a gingersnap crust which I found in a old edition of her magazine. Essentially, the pumpkin part is creamy delicious pumpkin pudding with a mound of whipped cream on top. The smooth light flavor in contrast to the spicy crunchy cookie crust was sooo good! 

Deep Dish Apple Pie
Serves 12-16
Recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Pie dough:

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and diced
1/2 cup ice cold water

Directions:

1. In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, sugar and salt and pulse to combine. Add the diced butter and pulse just until you have pea-sized pieces of dough. Transfer to a large bowl.

2. Drizzle the water over the dry mixture and work it together with your hands. Knead briefly then form into a large disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for two hours.

Apple pie:

Ingredients:

1 recipe of above pie crust

Filing:
4 lbs apples, 1/2 green apples and 1/2 Fuji apples
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Streusel topping:
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoon butter, melted

Vanilla ice cream

Directions:

1. Prepare crust: coat a 9-inch springform pan with oil. On a floured surface, roll out chilled pie crust into a 16-inch round – 1/4 inch thick. Place the dish into the fridge while you prepare the apples.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel, core and chop apples into 1/4″ slices. Place them all into a large bowl and drizzle with the lemon juice. In a separate small bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and then mix into apples.

3. Spoon apples into prepared crust and spread them as flat and evenly as possible. Bake pie for 30 minutes (if the tips of the apples begin to brown and burn, cover the top with foil).

4. While pie is baking, make the streusel topping. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, cinnamon, salt, flour, oats and baking powder. Pour in the melted butter and mix to combine. Stick in freezer until pie has baked for 30 minutes.

5. After 30 minutes, remove the pie from the oven, decrease the oven temperature to 325 and then spoon the streusel onto the top of the pie – pressing gently into apples. Return to the oven and bake for an additional hour. Cover with foil if the streusel begins to brown too quickly.

6. When the pie has finished baking, remove it from the oven and let cool to lukewarm. Run a knife around the crust to loosen the edges from the pan. Carefully loosen the clamp on the springform and slide it over the top and off the pie.

———————————————————————————————————————————————

Lately I have been paying attention to what makes a space ‘just work’ and what doesn’t. Have you ever been drawn to a room or vignette and even if it is not your personal aesthetic, it feels like it has a certain satisfying affect? Me too! I think this is what is meant by composition – when texture, color, pattern and materials are in perfect equilibrium. Here are a few examples that I think are perfectly executed:

Composition3

Composition4

Composition5

Composition6

Composition7

Composition8

Composition9

Composition10

 Happy weekend to you!

xo

s

 

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Bathroom Styling and My New Favorite Design Book

Bathroom Styling and My New Favorite Design Book

Highlights from the new book, “The Perfect Bath” by Waterworks Co-Founder, Barbara Sallick

I've been giving a lot of thought lately to my lackluster bathroom vanity and how to make it pretty while keeping it free of clutter. Do you share this quandary? As I've said many times, when I need inspiration, or just want to free fall into a creative flow Pinterest is where I go. So, for the past couple of weeks I've been saving beautifully styled bathroom images here and here. Just a few…

Bathroom_styling6

Bathroom_styling3

Bathroom_stylng5

As luck – or serendipity – would have it, as I was pouring over bathroom images, a gorgeous design book on bathrooms arrived in the mail from the publisher! The book isn't just 'A' book about bathrooms. It's written by The Bathroom Goddess herself – Barbara Sallick, Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of Design for Waterworks. Let me preface my fussing and fawning by saying that I would never promote anything that I haven't personally experienced and/or seen and that I didn't adore. I adore this book. It is chock full of images all of which are absolutely breathtaking. The chapters are organized in such a way that if you are using it to help you design, you can plunge right in to those tips and resources. If eye candy and a little lift with your afternoon tea, is more your speed, you can have that too.

  PerfectBath_cover

© The Perfect Bath by Barbara Sallick, Rizzoli New York, 2016.

100927_155final

Collins bath

151021_WATERWORKS_Book_MasterClass_099

Trousdale2

PerfectBath_back cover img

If you are looking for things to put on your holiday wish list, I highly recommend "The Perfect Bath". To purchase, click here.

As I contemplate my bathroom, I will be spending time considering the beautful bath accessories found at Waterworks.  

More interior inspiration to come…

xo

s

 

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Things I’m Digging – Men’s Addition

Things I’m Digging – Men’s Addition

2016 Men’s gift ideas

Hi you…. What a moon last night! It makes me smile to know we are all looking at the same one. The world feels smaller and the space between us a whole lot closer when you picture it that way.

15

I have been collecting some gift ideas … thought i’d share a few favorites.

Titanium_flask

source

 Did you know that Titanium is the best metal for beverage containers because it doesn’t produce any metal taste? It’s also one of the strongest metals and has a really manly and superhero-ish name. 

Backpack_mini_proto_storagepouch_square_001

Matador_daylite16_centralpark3_001

source

I just discovered this company because they kindly sent me a press release telling me about their super cool, fully weatherproof day pack that fits into your palm. Now that glove boxes are no longer storing maps, there is room for one (or more) of these for those unexpected stops to the farmers market or wherever.

Proper_cloth_shirts

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There is nothing like perfectly fitted clothing to up your game from good to outstanding. I take most of my clothes to a seamstress who often makes suggestions I didn’t even think of. The end result are clothes that fit me exactly. This shirting company has literally mastered how to do it online. Forget going to Hong Kong to get your custom shirts – you can now get the same hand tailored fit, and luxurious fabrics from the comfort of your own home. Be sure to take a look at the 2016 Flannel Shirt Collection –  so comfy and cozy.

Facial_Fuel_Energizing_Face_Wash_3700194719159_8.4fl.oz.

source

Simply fantastic products. A guy’s shower staple. 

  Apotheke_brooklyn

source

Speaking of shower and bathroom products, the masculine packaging of this company will appeal to those Y chromosome bearing loves in your life.

Vinyl_me_pease

source

Not everyone has a turntable (formerly known as a record player) but for those who do, this is a great gift. I love blank-of-the-month gifts, don’t you?  They are the gift that keeps on giving. What’s particularly fun about this record-of-the-month club is that each record comes with a poster based on the album and a cocktail recipe to match the vibe.

ME05_black_gallery_1_1024x1024

source

 A special gift but worth it. Other finishes available, as well as headphones too. 

Next post – fall fashion…. see you soon.

xo

s

 

 

 

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