California designer Shiree Hanson Segerstrom's weekly tips for decorating, gardening, and stylish living

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jelly Beans and Stranger Things plus...The Best HOMEMADE MAYONNAISE!

















When my son Christian was little we would create a jelly bean trail from his bed leading into the kitchen where the table had been decorated with baskets of candy left by the Easter Bunny.

















I'm not sure who enjoyed it more: Christian, or Jim and me.  Now that Christian lives so far away, he's not able to come home for Easter, instead saving his trips for Christmas and his birthday.  I still decorate using the same mementos from his childhood and send him pictures of the decorations via cell phone.

Through the mail I'll send him some chocolate pastel m & m's and an Easter greeting card.

















Spring is my favorite season but I do wish it were longer.  The last few years, spring has been almost non-existent going from cold rain storms directly to the heat of summer.  Today is beautiful here in California and I'm looking forward to a few days off with David.






















Few of my family's favorite Easter foods are healthy.  Aside from asparagus and strawberries, much of it's fattening.  I love making homemade white bread, homemade mayonnaise, homemade banana creme pie, potato salad, and quiche.  I don't make them all in the same year for obvious reasons.  My potato salad recipe has been passed down from my great grandmother.  It's just potatoes, eggs, dill pickles, flat leaf parsley, red onion, celery, and mayonnaise.






















Silver Palate's Homemade Mayonnaise

2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 T. Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 C fresh lemon juice
2 cups best quality olive oil


1. Combine the egg yolks, whole egg, mustard, salt, pepper, and half of the lemon juice in a food processor.  Process for 1 minute.


2. With the motor running, dribble in the oil in a slow steady stream.  When you have added all the oil, shut the motor off and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.


3.  Taste the mayonnaise.  Correct the seasoning if necessary.  Place in a storage container.  Mayonnaise will keep safely, if refrigerated, for at least 5 days. 


























































































































Bon Spring!

Photography Shiree Hanson Segerstrom.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hobbit House in Wales

















Stumbling along on StumbleUpon I found this low impact home built by Simon Dale of Wales.  Simon enlisted the help of his father in law as well as visiting friends in the building of his home.  He estimates it took between 1000 and 1500 man hours and cost roughly 60 pounds a square meter in materials.

















Many of the materials Simon used were natural.  It is the irregular materials that give the place it's unique style.  He reports that he enjoyed being his own architect and that collaborative efforts paid off.

















I'm thinking pest control as I look at the picture above!  But no matter if you have enough time to manage such things without chemicals.























The window above must be one of the cheeriest spots in the home.  The way the window frames the view outside is really lovely.
















I have traveled to Wales and thought it a beautiful place full of friendly, strong minded people.  It was beautifully verdant.  My husband, son, brother, and I were there in early October and it rained the whole week.  Not a good cup of coffee to be found but we did find some great little antique stores and cozy pubs.  I cherish my Welsh made Portmeirion bowl, tea cozy, and numerous tea towels I snagged while there.

For more information please visit Simon Dale.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Story on Sofas














 
May I be permitted to have an opinion or two about sofas?  There is a perfect sofa choice for every living room, family room, and den and there are few purchases as important as a well chosen sofa.  The sofa pictured above is for a Land Park client who had minimal floor plan options.  It will be placed opposite her wonderful fireplace flanked by two red dragonfly print chairs.














Sofas come in many widths and styles ranging from 80 inches wide to over 100 inches wide.  They come with skirts or without.  Some have three seat cushions, some have one.  Fabric choices are endless.  Cushion's can be solid foam core or wrapped in a down blend.

For larger rooms go with a 90 inch wide sofa or wider.  Adding skirts to the design will make a large room feel cozier.  Conversely speaking, a smaller room benefits from no skirts.  The space under the sofa allows light to flow through and gives the illusion of a more spacious room.













I almost always sell sofas with one or three seat cushions, leaving the two seat cushion styles for love seats.  The reason for this is no one wants to sit on the seam.













Tufting is not the most comfortable sofa feature but in a room where you will mostly be entertaining they can be quite beautiful.  Personally I like sitting up straight at parties so the tufting doesn't bother me. 













A solid foam core with a down blend wrap represents the best of both worlds.  The core provides a good, firm long lasting foundation while the down wrap adds a soft finishing touch.  The weight of the sofa, combined with the quality of it's cushions and it's fabric comprise the overall quality of the sofa.  A heavy, kiln dried wood frame is a must for longevity.  To replace good cushions it is $150 and up per cushion so buy a sofa with good cushions to begin with.













 To choose the proper sofa you first must identify the type of room it will be in.  Large or small. Square or rectangle.  What are it's uses?  Do you have children or pets?  What kind of wear do you expect from it?














Better upholstery fabrics generally cost $80 a yard and up and with most sofas requiring 17 to 20 yards of fabric it can be almost half the cost of the sofa.  Cheaper fabrics can be had if you purchase "program" fabrics which are the fabrics being sold by the sofa manufacturer but in my experience, unless you are purchasing slip covered sofas the fabric quality isn't up to par.  It's much better to order sofas COM  which stands for customer's own materials. 













While this adds to the cost, it ensures a good looking, superior quality finish.  There is no need saving $500 on fabric if you have to recover the sofa in 4 or 5 years.  A good quality fabric should last at the very least 10 years if not 15 years or more.












Sectional sofas are often purchased for rooms that haven't enough space.  My theory is that a customer walks into a furniture store and tells the sales person he or she wants a sectional sofa.  The sales person doesn't wish to risk losing the sale and does as the customer asks: sells them a sectional. Albeit one that doesn't fit or suit the room.













The sofa above is one that would work in a small room or a room with delicate features.  It's contemporary and will mix with many styles.  The curved back blurs it's outline making it a good apartment sofa.













Modern looking sofas are very popular right now but some of them aren't comfortable.  And that's okay, providing it won't be going in a room where television viewing or reading is expected.














Pottery Barn is one of the most popular places to buy a sofa and I find this dismaying.  Their prices are relatively high and the quality just doesn't represent the tag.  I call them disposable couches because you can only expect about 6 years use.  The quality sofas you see on this blog entry are in the $3500 to $5000 range and they can be reupholstered repeatedly.













Another little trick I picked up is warm color fabrics make sofas and chairs look larger.  That's because they advance.  To keep your sofa fabric from looking dirty quickly be sure to choose fabrics with texture in a medium shade (not too dark and not too light) and choose fabrics with a tone on tone pattern or better yet, a print.   

Sofa's available through Shiree Hanson Segerstrom.  Lead time is about 8 to 10 weeks.  

Friday, March 25, 2011

SEEKING COMFORT After the Loss of a Loved One























My fiance's family suffered a tragic loss recently.  The survivor's wife, two sons, mother, sister, and step dad will have the hardest time adjusting to a new way of being, living, and coping with loss.  I would like to dedicate this post to them. 






















Grieving is a personal process.  What that means is you can't tell someone how to do it.  It's different for everyone.  I tried reading the books when Jim, my husband of 25 years died.  They didn't work for me.  People encouraged group therapy.  I couldn't fathom telling a group of people I didn't know what my experience has been like.






















What did work is a combination of rest, exercise, fresh healthy food, a little time in public, and a lot of time alone.  One thing that's the same across the board is "you have to grieve".  You can't avoid it.  Your psyche won't let you off the hook.  It will consume you, bite you in the behind later, if you don't go through the process. 

















I grieved in daily increments meaning: it's healthiest if you spend time grieving every day.  For me, counseling really helped too, providing you find a counselor you really respect and trust, one that has good referrals. 

















Returning to work after a recuperation period is healthy.  I think I returned to part time work after about 3 or 4 weeks.  Then full time in 2 months.  It is very important to keep yourself in a forward motion.  Laying in bed is not a healthy option.  Although putting a romantic comedy on during a rainy day can be therapeutic.

 




















Resuming pleasurable activities isn't something you feel like doing but you will enjoy life and favorite activities again.  Movies helped me a lot, and going to dinner with friends. If you force yourself at first, you will quickly learn to enjoy things again.  Finding joy again is absolutely necessary to resume a healthy life.  

















Granted the pain doesn't go away, but it lessens at times and eventually becomes bearable overall.  To stay physically and emotionally healthy is really important.  Eat right, exercise, talk about your loss, spend time in reflective thought (remembering) and take time to socialize, and in time, pursue pleasurable activities.


Blessings and positive thoughts also go out to the family of Miyuki Noma, my incredible sister in law and prayers to the Eugene Moriarty's, our Segerstrom cousins. 
   

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring, Come Hither...and Hurry Up About It






















All these spring storms we are experiencing makes me pine for sunnier days.  I am ready for outdoor dining, late night walks with David and the dogs, and cheerier, less cumbersome clothing.


















We are enjoying the last of the daffodils and flowering quince.  My Japanese cherry and Japanese maple are budding up.  The tulip trees are in full bloom.  When the time is right Chuck and I will plant some new boxwood's around the property.  

Spring is best enjoyed out of doors but some inside rooms beautifully evoke the season of rebirth, like the interior above by designer Charlotte Moss.

 




















Color in the garden is not my favorite thing but who wouldn't make an exception for azaleas.  Their greenery is beautiful year round and they are so easily shaped with regular clippings.  Chuck shapes mine in continuous mounds.  My azaleas are mature and flank the flagstone walkways in my upper garden.

Around Mother's Day I start pruning my topiary Boxwood and ivy in particular need this to maintain their shapes and encourage new growth.  I've always used Miracle Grow but would love an odorless, organic alternative.

Lady Di rose above and a beautiful hybrid iris below.  Sending you positive thoughts on this very dreary California day. 

My Salad of the Day

arugula
cucumber
red onion
orange slices
kalamata olives
homemade garlicky garbanzo bean hummus
white wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
Create a bed with the arugula and top with the remaining ingredients and sprinkle with oil and vinegar.  Place a scoop of hummus along side the salad and dip your fork into it with each bite.  The flavor and texture combination's of this salad are spectacular!  So healthy, pretty, and delicious.  Enjoy.



Monday, March 21, 2011

FIVE INTERIORS TO LOVE from my fellow designers






















Every few weeks or so I like to feature other designer's work.  These are some images that I find fresh and inviting.  Scroll down for a few inspiring room designs.




































































































Photos: Elle Decor; Jeffrey Billhuber; and Simon Upton.

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