30 September 2010

Perimeter Check: Mandarin Oranges & Strawberries!

Doing the "perimeter check" early this morning (walking around the garden with a cup of coffee in my hand before work :-) ...look what I found!

Strawberries had miraculously appeared despite my utter neglect of the little plants all summer, and suddenly the mandarine oranges are ready! And the pyracantha berries are already "Thanksgiving Orange"! And does anyone else love white anemones as much as I do?

Enjoy! Have a great last day of September!

{from Kit}

28 September 2010

Hidden Villa: Humanitarian Awards Dinner

could anything be more appealing than
this beautiful chioggia beet?

The Duveneck family were on the side of the angels a long, long time ago. In 1924 they established a self-sustaining organic farm as an educational center and invited multi-racial children to the summer camps they started in 1945. This is the incredible legacy and mandate for Hidden Villa today.

It was an honor to head the Decorating Committee for the annual Humanitarian Awards Dinner for 350 tented outside under the stars this last weekend in the hills west of Palo Alto, California.

With an almost non-existent budget for decorations, we naturally turned to the Farm itself as a source to interpret this year's theme, Deep Roots, New Shoots, and used our own farm-grown products: olive tree branches, chioggia beets, organic carrots, sunflowers, zinnias, amaranth for the centerpieces. We asked the board members, staff and decorations committee to collect old bottles. We were able to use those as single-stem-vases, jumping on that hot trend. A cornstalk turned roots-up became a holder for the table numbers.

We were thrilled to witness the incredible honorees Chris Bischof & Helen Kim, Eboo Patel, and Susan, Franklin, Katherine, David & Katy Orr receive the distinguished Humanitarian Awards that evening over our farm-cultivated gourmet feast and fine wines.

Plan to join us next year! and in the meantime, be sure to visit Hidden Villa, in person or online. You will be impressed and grateful to know there is an organization that cares so deeply about our culture, our children, and our mother earth.

And, you can get fresh, organic vegetables every week next summer if you sign up early enough!

the theme: Deep Roots, New Shoots inspired us
to use farm produce in the centerpieces

the big tent the afternoon before the dinner

tables are just about ready for the evening festivities

our artistic "melange" of farm-grown
flowers and vegetables;
we wanted a simple presentation

we notched the upturned cornstalk and
let the roots anchor the centerpiece while
holding the table number

the second tent looks so cool and inviting before
we set up the silent auction items


A Little Tour Around

a pathway leading to the old stagecoach stop

the old stagecoach house now houses summer interns
from all over the world

a peaceful, pastoral scene

the Duveneck residence built in 1924, now center
for Hidden Villa staff and events, including weddings!

the roadway meanders through the farm pastures,
gardens, buildings with gorgeous views all around

gorgeous zinnias grown on the farm!

{from Kit}

26 September 2010

A Wander Through The Ferry Building Marketplace

When I dropped my dear friends visiting from Texas off at the Alcatraz tour boat launch I headed out for a slow walk along the San Francisco waterfront to wait for them. I had no particular plan in mind as I ambled down the Embarcadero. The sun was shining, there was a gentle warm breeze blowing and the atmosphere outside was happy and festive with street markets and Peter Pan playing in the big tent. Feeling a bit aimless, I strolled happily.

Then I looked up and found I was at the Ferry Building Marketplace. Walking inside I was riveted by the sheer sensuality of so many local purveyors with their permanent stalls set up to sell perfectly delectable eatables, kitchen and dining wares, antiques, gardening tools, books; and incredible spots to have coffee, lunch or dinner along the way. The sensual feast awakened my inner shopper*grazer and I found myself swept along with the milling crowd, more delighted at each stop along the way.

Visiting The Ferry Building always gives me the same feeling I have when visiting the covered Paris flea markets: an exciting sense of discovery, of surprise and wonder; the hustle and bustle of so many people and so many purveyors could be along a medieval street scene on market day. Modernized. Glammed up. And very chic!

I hope you will join me next time!

the dining area of Boulettes Larder, the
place to eat when you to be around people;
the restaurant seats 24 inside
and a handful of tables outside

industrial chic meets French kitchen

the immediacy of the kitchen means you can watch all
these busy chefs preparing your meal at close range

the kitchen takes up the
largest part of the dining room, is a visual feast
in itself and gives you the wonderful feeling of
being in your French grandmother's kitchen

the charming sign

Belgian linen napkins to buy at
Boulettes Larder


this antique kitchen implement is
a pleasing graphic work in
wrought iron (not sure of it's function..
anyone know?)

charming marble fireplace could be
found anywhere in Provence

old French farm cart


the store is a celebration of the garden and home

charming fish print tablecloth

gardening gloves all the way down to
little kids' sizes

provençal tablecloth


the delectable sweets tempt all passersby!



Along The Embarcadero
San Francisco


{from Kit!}

22 September 2010

les dernières roses de l'été

A little bouquet from my garden to say "au revoir" to summer and welcome Autumn! Hope yours is productive and busy, like all the little squirrels in our yard running after acorns before I left this morning!

{from Kit}

18 September 2010

Provence, Reinterpreted

I've been deeply involved with my family and doing some traveling these last few weeks. Now September is well upon us. It's a bittersweet, busy time when we have to switch gears from long lazy summer days with a toe in the sand, to get ready for the crisp, business-like, briefer and cooler days of fall. That's the essence of la rentree...our re-entry into our workaday lives after the sonorous summer days.

No longer do we fuss over the al fresco brunch in the dappled summer sunlight; now there are apples to pick and furnaces to service. The steps quicken, the leaves blow around on the wind. These dwindling daylight hours signal a change is in the air.

Looking back to late summer, I loved this 20th anniversary celebration of Côté Sud magazine featuring iconic Provençal items refreshed and given a modern twist by artisans in the South of France just for the occasion; old standbys like the tomettes and cigales are reinterpreted here.

They make me think of an endless summer.

typically in terra cotta, these hexagonal "tommettes" have been found in
Provençal homes for centuries; here they have been
updated with "Profils" to evoke the artistry of Picasso, Cocteau, Chagall


Basquaise in origin, this adorable bag features a polka dot base
adorned with flamenco-dress ruffles


standing in for doors in the summer, this bead screen is
newly interpreted using the Toiles du Soleil as small
circles threaded together and flowing on the
summer breezes


the cigale, or beloved little cricket, is the symbol of Frederic Mistral's
Provence; here the little chirper is saucily interpreted for building bricks


the classic Marseillaise dish, bouillabaisse was originally the snack of fishermen;
they would dip their fish in the broth when boiling and reduce the heat when
reboiled, hence the name "bolhabaissa" is Occitan Provencal. This set is inspired
by an 18th c. version is cleanly designed


this "light as summer" sarong is a reinterpretation of an 1825
print found in the Fragonard Museum and made
into this lovely tribute to the Indian origins of Provençal prints


used for keeping wine cool for the farmers returning from the
hot fields at noontime, these iconic pourou from Roussillon
have been interpreted in fresh modern colors for
the 20th anniversary of Côté Sud


the Carmargue Cross symbolizes the three virtues:
the herdsman, the anchor of hope,
and the charity of Saint Mary;
here the symbol is placed in bas-relief
on colorful stoneware


the classic straw market basket made popular by Brigitte Bardot
and Jane Birkenis reinterpreted here in yellow goatskin and lined with
a beautiful old vintage kilim remnant

get the original from my friend Andrea at The French Basketeer!


traditionally seen in earth colored clay and glazes of
green and ochre, these olive oil jars have been
modernized with refreshing white and fresh colors


a market umbrella evokes the 50's with its
vintage fabrics and colors on the cool beaches
of the French Mediterranean coast


all images Côté Sud


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