Getting into the holiday spirit

Getting into the holiday spirit

The spirit of the holidays hadn't hit me until this weekend.  My bad. I've been too preoccupied with other stuff to glance up and appreciate what makes this time of year so festive.  Effective immediately, I'm double dipping on holiday cheer!  

I plan to accomplish this by:

1. Not counting calories, carbs, fat grams or anything else associated with food guilt until January 3rd.

2. Taking out all of my cookie cookbooks and leaving them on the kitchen counter to inspire and hopefully use multiple times in the next two weeks (closely tied to #1).

3. Spending as many evenings as possible watching holiday specials with the kids. Our favorites are the old school Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Rudolph, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Polar Express and The Grinch with Jim Carey.

4. Lighting a fire. Who cares that it's 60+ degrees outside?

5. Listening to the "All Holiday – All the Time" radio station in the car. Possibly cranking it when Feliz Navidad comes on – for sure if I'm in car line.

Am I forgetting anything?? What do you do to get into the spirit?

We celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah and today picked out our tree. At the grocery store I noticed a new item in the deli – homemade matzoh ball soup! Perfect easy dinner with roast chicken and salad while we decorate the tree, thinks me. I didn't even realize the irony until I started writing this… so great how blogging, or writing for that matter, sharpens ones awareness….

Since I've got the holiday's on my mind, especially holiday decorating  I dug around my holiday home decor file, and thought I'd share a few of my personal fave's. 

Christmas - RL Ranch Colorado - Arch Digest

Ralph Lauren Ranch – could it be anywhere else?


Wreaths – no bow.

Farmhouse doors - country living - Kevin Reiner

Country Living – Kevin Reiner

Fireplace in bedroom - holiday

Holiday -southern accents
Southern Accents

Holiday - champagne flutes w: pine

Holiday - tartan tablescape - sweetsomethingdesign

sweet something design

Menorah - martha stewart

Martha Stewart

Simple wrapping. I might add a rubber stamp with red ink.

Holiday package - emmas design blog

Emma's design blog

Happy Monday!

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events

I can't believe how fast this week has flown by! I had intended to do a last New York post, but uploading all the photos has taken longer than I anticipated, so it'll come in the next few days.  

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to attending the Remodelista Holiday Market here in Marin on Saturday!   If you're nearby, find an hour or so to stop by. The Remodelista gals gathered a fantastic assortment of local vendors for your holiday shopping pleasure. The location in new Marin Country Mart makes it easy to get to if you're in SF – right across the street from the ferry. 

I'm particularly excited about one vendor who I've already placed an order with and am anxiously awaiting my ….. Hint, it's one of the photos below! 

Remodelista marin market

I'm also looking forward to Sunday when the long awaited photo shoot of the mod-squad Sausalito condo I have been working on for the past 8 months takes place!  I've been running all over town gathering accessories, floral items and all the little details that will fill out the rooms.  I'm thrilled and excited to be working with photographer Sean Dagen who shoots the Serena & Lily catalog (no relation to me and my daughter Lily, but for the record we were here first 🙂

I will share photos of both the Remodelista event as well as behind-the-scenes of the photo shoot next week, so stay tuned!  

One last thing to put on the calendar…  Glassybaby will be in San Francisco!!!  


Big Sur-prise

Big Sur-prise

This was supposed to be a house update post, but my husband surprised me with a night away to Big Sur, so I put my laptop away and unplugged for 24 hours. It's my birthday next week and since he'll be far, far away, he sweetly planned a wonderful getaway to celebrate a little early.

I had never been to Big Sur before, but it's now one of my all time favorite places for a weekend away. It's so breathtakingly beautiful! Just the drive along Highway 1 is worth the trip!  


Highway 1flickr photo


FarmHouseUrban photo

Isn't that cool how the sun has those triangles like we used to draw it?



We went for a hike after breakfast and along the way spotted a few wild turkeys making a run for it! Can you see him above between the trees?


Simple fall decorations. Pumpkins come in so many colors these days – doesn't it seem like they used to only be orange?  A small sampling of colors makes a welcoming fall display.


I have never seen this done before, but I thought it was such a great idea I had to share it with you. When pumpkins are on the vine and still small, lightly engraving them will allow a scar to form later when they're big.  Don't worry, it doesn't hurt them! Mark your calendar now to remember to check your nearest pumpkin farm next summer to order your custom design in time for Halloween. 



The beauty of Big Sur is that on one side you have the vast Pacific ocean and on the other – Redwoods and vistas.


Fall is the best time of year to visit the coastal towns of Northern California.  The indian summers can last long into late October and early November.


Remember the wild turkey's we saw in the woods? Their cover was blown and we spotted them trying to get the heck out of dodge in this Lexus!  Pecking on the door with their beaks attacking their reflections – the poor car owner is in for a big surprise! But, it is a tough time of year to be a turkey!

Have a fantastic weekend everyone!

Quick Grocery Store Centerpiece

Quick Grocery Store Centerpiece

Hola! We just got home from a week in Cabo – it was Spring Break for the kids. I have major vacation brain – as in too many margaritas + no computer for a week = overwhelmed Monday, so please bear with me:) I will do a proper post or two on the trip in the next few days.

Anyway…Before we left I made plans with friends to host a Passover Seder for ten at our house the day after we came back (which was last night -Sunday). There was a time not too long ago when the thought of not cooking everything myself was inconceivable. I am happy to say, I have let that go! By bye guilt- don't let the door slam you in the … Not sure how or why I now feel so ok about it (maybe it has to do with having a dinner party for 10 people less than 24 hours after getting back from being away for a week?) I'll admit it feels good. So, this time I really took the easy route – cooked a few things, bought a few and guests brought.

I took some quick photos as I was getting the table ready.  

Remember that compote I bought at Napa Valley Vintage Home that I blogged about here?  It was the perfect container for some things I picked up at the grocery store.

I put a small glass bowl in the compote so it wouldn't get all gunky and put a brick of water soaked floral oasis into that. The oasis held the hydrangeas, calla lilies, grapes and artichokes in place.



I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and Happy Passover!




Every holiday season for the past nine years, my daughter and I have gone to the Nutcracker.  She's just turning twelve, so the first year it was risky. Except for a few twirls and a mary jane'd little foot occasionally kicking in the air, she sat mesmerized.  

Yesterday was our day. Over the Golden Gate and through the city to the War Memorial Opera House we went.


We've got our routine down.  Get there early for good parking.


Then walk to our favorite nearby lunch spot – Max's Cafe.

Matzohballsoup - max's sf

Shouldn't all Christmas traditions begin with matzoh ball soup and a pastrami sandwich?


The architecture of the War Memorial Opera House is breathtaking.


Before the show, we love to walk around the building and look at the Christmas decorations. Everyone in their holiday best, hot chocolate and cookies (and champagne) in abundance.  The festive spirit is contagious.








Of course, the ballet itself is the best part.  The San Francisco Ballet was the first ballet company to perform the full Nutcracker in the US and has been doing so since 1944. 



As my kids get older – especially now that one's in high school, I have been thinking about our family holiday traditions a lot.  Did I/we do enough?  How did they come to be?  Passed on from previous generations, organically just happened, or a decision to start something new?  Regardless of how, I've realized that it's the tradition part rather than the other stuff that is the most important.

I wish you all the happiest, healthiest and most restful of holidays.  I'm taking the next week off, but will be back with you in 2011.  Stay tuned for some recent client projects, photos of the bathrooms (they turned out great!) and some new features to the urban farmhouse!

In the meantime, please don't forget to enter my giveaway here!



all photos (except last two) taken by and belonging to serena armstrong.  

Rustic Holiday Style

Rustic Holiday Style

Just a touch of green and a sparkle or two… 

Barn - RL Ranch Colorado - Arch Digest

Ralph Lauren's Ranch – Architectural Digest

Holiday -spinning wheel and wreath midwest living

midwest living magazine

 Silver teapots w: pointsetias

Holiday - emmas design blog


Holiday - sweet paul


Holiday succulents wreath - floragrubb

succulents wreath – flora grubb

Holiday -log cabin

log cabin homes

Rl ranch - arch digest

Ralph Lauren's Ranch – Architectural Digest


 Keeping it simple this year – yet, I still have a ton to do.  If only…


Holiday - car w: presents

Subscribe for updates from