Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Happy 1 Year Anniversary to Me!

I started blogging one year ago today. It started with a blog about pork chops. 249 posts later I'm still here. And still pretty much just writing for a handful of folks, but I love it anyway.

Thanks to my friends and family for humoring me by showing up every once in a while.

I love you all!


PS. Please scroll down to the Book Club post. You don't want to miss the link to the BEST FROSTING EVER!!

Book Club was a success!


Book Club Update:  my good friend Kerry, who teaches 3rd grade in Connecticut, just told me this is a 5th grade level book. Oops. She asked who picked it out. Uh, that would be me and Elli. What do we know?  So now I am SUPER DUPER PROUD of Elli for finishing it. She's a rock star!!

We successfully hosted book club at our house last Sunday. So now I can quit stressing about it.

First, Elli and I had to finish reading the book we picked (Mrs. Frisby and the rats of NIMH.) It was a great story and we really enjoyed reading it together. However, it was kind of long, and a little bit hard for Elli to read and understand. So it took F-O-R E-V-E-R to read. It was painfully slow sometimes. I admit, I read a few chapters outloud just to speed up the process.
Only two of the six girls actually finished the book. That's not good. That means the book was a tad hard for everyone. I have no regrets picking it though, because everyone, mom's and daughter's, enjoyed the story. And Elli was so proud of herself for being one of the only girls to finish. And it really pushed Elli.

You wouldn't believe how much I thought about, and stressed about hosting book club at my house. My house had to be perfect. The food had to be perfect. My head spun round and round in the kitchen all day Sunday. Don avoided me, which was wise, as I was swearing under my breath about all the chaos I had created - shopping, cooking, baking, cleaning, and laundry. While he sat at the kitchen table finishing our taxes and watching basketball ALL DAY LONG.

I went with my cousin Sarah's suggestion and set up a Burrito/Taco Buffet. It was a hit with everyone. Although several girls had never made their own taco before. Say what? I thought taco night was a standard in most households. Guess not.

I made 4 new recipes for the evening. And they were all keepers. Three recipes are all adapted from The Tasty Kitchen/Pioneer Woman website. (I just love the Pioneer Woman.)

1) Roasted Tomatillo Dressing - great as a dip with chips and veggies, or poured all over burrito, or as a salad dressing. The flavors in the dip get richer the longer it's in the fridge. And when I say longer I'm referring to days in the fridge. As in today was day 3 and you could really taste the garlic and lime today.

2) Mexican rice - yummy, colorful, made it ahead and reheated it in the oven. Yummy and good. Also really good on day 3.

3) Lemon Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze - mmmmm So good at the party, and the leftovers will be treating us for weeks. I've wrapped pieces and put them in the freezer for future enjoyment! (Big secret here. This is a box cake mix. Not your everyday box mix - it's from Williams Sonoma and it is FAN-TASTIC.)

4) Chocolate Sprinkles Cupcakes with THE BEST FROSTING EVER.  The Chocolate Sprinkles cupcakes (mix is from Williams Sonoma) were good too. But man, the frosting was AWESOME!

You can't believe how relieved I am that I have one of these behind me. I had myself all stressed out for no reason. Stupid, I know. Like who cares if there is a splatter on the bathroom mirror. Oh wait, I DO!!!

Relax dummy. It's all over.

PS. Of course there was WINE too. Duh! I was so focused on the best frosting ever I forgot to include the vino!

A little Cava sparkling from Canals & Nubiola, Some Zolo Gaucho Select Unoaked Chardonnay and of course Tapiz Malbec. Three favs to share with the gals. 

Mexican Rice

Olive oil
1 whole shallot, finely diced
2 whole garlic cloves, minced
1 whole red bell pepper, diced
1 whole green bell pepper, diced
2 whole jalapenos, finely diced
1 14-½ ounce can,  petite-cut diced tomatoes, drained
1 T. tomato paste
1 cup water
1 T better than bouillon chicken base
1 cup long grain rice
1/2 t. salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
2. Add the shallot, garlic, red and green bell peppers, and jalapenos. Saute for 3 – 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the tomatoes and stir until heated through. Add the tomato paste, water, bouillon base, rice, and salt and pepper. Stir thoroughly and cover.
4. Cook on medium for 20 – 25 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.
5. Season with more salt and pepper if desired. 

Roasted Tomatillo Dressing/Dip

4 whole tomatillos, roasted
½ bunch cilantro
1 whole jalapeño, seeded
1 clove roasted garlic
olive oil
1 whole lime, juiced
½ cups milk
1 package (about 1 Oz. Packet) Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Mix
½ cups Sour Cream
1 cup light mayonnaise

Fresh vegetables - baby carrots, celery sticks, broccoli, jicama, radishes

1. Preheat toaster oven to 425º Start by roasting the tomatillos and garlic. Remove the husks, wash, quarter, and roast on a baking sheet for a few minutes until they brown a little. Drizzle a little olive oil on a clove of garlic, wrap in foil and roast in the toaster oven until soft.
2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
3. Chill until ready to serve. 

4. Serve dip with veggies on a platter.

Fluffy White Vanilla Frosting

5 T. flour
1 cup milk
1 t. vanilla paste
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar (not Powdered Sugar!)
1. Bake your favorite chocolate cake and let it cool.
2. In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. You want it to be very thick like a brownie mix is. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.  It must be completely cool before you use it in the next step. Stir in vanilla.
3. While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter and sugar together in your kitchen aid mixer with the whip attachment until light and fluffy. Add the completely cooled milk mixture to the butter and whip until it resembles whipped cream.
4. Frost cupcakes and enjoy!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Labradors make good pillows.

Last Saturday we spent the day at Pollin's (our store) getting the showroom organized. We get tons of new fabric samples all the time and we only have so much space. So we had to decide what is in and what is out.

This is not a fun activity for Elli, or the dogs, but they were there, hanging with us, even taking in some sun out front. Now, we have tons of pillows at the store that Elli could use to rest her weary head. But none are as cuddly as Mr. Sam, though.

Elli and Sam are buds.

He has a lot of patience.

Lots of patience.

He would probably let let her lie there all day,

Ok, Sammy. Let's go.

Want a dog like Sam? Go to Golden Gate Lab Rescue to see how you can adopt a fabulous lab just like Sammy.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bentley's, Mercedes and Pipes. Oh my.

Today is going to be one of those days. I can just feel it. It's already been a little strange. Most of it has nothing to do with me. But I can feel it in my gut. Something is in the air.

This morning I saw a lovely gentleman, driving a Bentley, drop off his daughter at school. I can just imagine the conversation this morning.

"Good morning, Sissy."

"Good morning, father."

"Should we take the Bentley this morning? he says.

"That sounds lovely father, should we call someone to bring it out front for us?"

"Of course dear, now gather your things. It's time to go to school."

Ok. Ok. I know what you're thinking. She's lost it. And maybe I have. Because these are the conversations that go on in my head. Really they do. And now I've written it down and shared it with you. This is definitely cause for concern.

So after this conversation ended. (The one inside my head.) Another one started.

I'm still in the car on my way to work. I am now on Marina Blvd., near the San Francisco marina, when I see a big honkin' silver Mercedes next to me. In the back seat is a dapper looking older gentleman. Expensive suit, silver hair, starched white shirt. He's talking to the person driving. The person driving is a middle-aged hispanic woman sitting so close to the steering wheel that it seems to be attached to her. She's actively talking to the man in the back seat. He is all relaxed in back, in the corner, legs crossed, arm up on the side, like he's sitting on a couch.

WHO is SHE? And WHO is HE? Mr., I-don't-have-to-wear-a-seat-belt-and-please-drive-me-somewhere-very-important-this-morning. If only I were a fly!

When we lived in New York and Connecticut you would see people getting limo'd around all the time. The standard limo vehicle is a black town car. The driver always wore a black suit, starched shirt and tie. You just don't see that kind of thing around here. It's a New York thing I guess.

It's confirmed. I've lost it. I think it's my new office. See the picture - and the pipes. I sit right in front of them in my new office. No. I'm not in the basement. My office is actually pretty cool. I just happen to have the Sprinkler SHUT OFF VALVE inches behind my head. No biggie.

All right. That's enough. I need to get to working.

Ta ta!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New tires. Yippee.

Last week we bought eight new tires. Why is it that everything always wears out at the same time? Both cars needed four new tires at the same time. 

Actually, that's not quite true. We pushed it to the max with the tires. I was starting to see stuff in the rubber that you're not supposed to see. Zoinks.

We don't normally wait that long to replace important things like tires. But our cars don't take just any old tire (of course) so we had to wait until we could afford all that rubber. I was driving around holding my breath - which is totally not cool, and slightly exaggerated. But true nonetheless.

So we made the purchase. And now we're eating bread and butter for the next four weeks. Just kidding. (I'm giving Elli some turkey on her bread.)

The weird and funny thing was how happy Don and I were to have our new tires. Relieved mostly, but happy. We don't have to worry about what could happen driving to Napa on tread-less tires. Life has been very humbling lately.

So Sunday afternoon Elli and I washed the cars (no car wash for us) and admired our shiny new tires and their big treads. Washing the cars is actually a pretty fun little activity on a nice sunny day. I know I've heard that you use more water at home than at a car wash. But I don't think that's true at all. Our hose has a sprayer and it only sprays water when you pull the trigger. PLUS, car washes are a $$ ripoff. We can do it ourselves and save big bucks.

Next up for the I-can't-believe-we-have-to-save-for-this-instead-of-buying-something-fun---for me- - - -is MORE CAR REPAIR. Yes. That's the real me, people.

Lights have popped on in each car. Don's light means some random lightbulb is out. Mine is the brake light. Greaaaaaaaat. Not fair!!!!!!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Homemade Olive Oil Granola

This weekend I made homemade granola for the first time. Wow, was it good. I found the recipe on TheKitchn, one of my favorite sites for recipes and kitchen ideas. They got the recipe from Melissa Clark, a New York Times columnist. Now here I am sharing it with you!

It is so easy and tasty. And you can totally make it your own with whatever ingredients you have, or with what you like. Because that's what I did and it works. It's sweet, crunchy, and full of yummy flavor. Don poured himself a bowl and we had to pry it out of his hands.

It tastes great on it's own, and it would be delicious with some yogurt or with some milk in a bowl. So far all we've done is snack on it right out of the jar. Even Elli's friend thinks it's good and she said she doesn't like granola. So there you go. It passed the picky 7 year old test.

This recipe is a keeper!

Olive Oil Granola
adapted from Melissa Clark

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 small bag of mixed dried berries (cherries, blueberries, cranberries, )
1 cup raw pistachios, hulled
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup coconut flakes

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, pistachios, walnuts, coconut flakes, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted. (I lined my baking sheet with parchment paper for easier clean up.)

2. Transfer granola to a large bowl and add dried fruit, tossing to combine.

Super easy and super yummy. You can click on Melissa Clark's name at the top to go to her recipe. You can see what I left out - cuz I didn't have it.  Stuff like cardamon and pumpkin seeds. I figured it would be fine without it and it was!


PS. This is not a quiet snack. And it can be messy. The girls left a trail like Hansel and Gretle. So beware!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Locks of Love, Part II - Ta da!!

It's done! Elli's hair is cut and it's so cute. Jamie, at Edwards Salon, treated her like a queen. And her friend Lili was there to cheer her on. Not that that was really necessary. Elli was cheering herself. She was ready to be rid of tangles.

She feels like a new girl. And she's got the sassy attitude to go with it. Lucky me.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Locks of Love, Part I

One of Elli's good friends at school decided she would grow her hair out and donate it to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for kids with cancer and other illnesses. Her friend grew her hair out and recently got it cut into a super cute bob. This inspired Elli and some of her friends to do the same.

The hair has to be cut in a ponytail, and must be at least 10" long. Elli's hair is finally long enough, so on Friday we are getting it cut. She is so excited she can barely stand it.

I thought I would look up a few hairstyles to give her some ideas on how she could get it cut. She likes to have some time to think about her decision - she's not big on spontaneity and this is a big decision. I found a site called shorthaircutstrends. They had some good pictures that I saved to show Elli. Here are my top three.

A - little bit of bangs

B - no bangs (this is Don's pick.)

C  - lots of bangs

It will be interesting to see which one she picks.

Check out this paragraph of copy from the website. You can't make this stuff up. This is real copy on a real website. 

Say what????  Witch part do you think is funniest? I'm torn between "it is discussed in an wrong meaner" and "Witch hairstyles." Now I know it's not nicw to make fun of people. But come on! This is so bad it's funny. I know I'm not perfect. But I'm pretty sure I'm better than this.

So should we take a vote on a style for the little missy? Pick A, B or C. Leave a comment below by noon on Friday. Our appointment is at 3:45!!!

Weight Watcher's Recipes from 1974

I am always up for a good laugh. So when I stumbled on this website called CandyBoots on Friday I KNEW I had to share it with you because that's the kind of gal I am - I love sharing a good laugh. And this one had me dieing laughing.

First, it had been an incredibly long week and I was desperate for a laugh. Second, anyone that thinks cabbage should be jelled or beef bouillon makes a "refreshing drink" is just ripe for me to poke fun at.

So the writer of this site found these old Weight Watcher's recipe cards at her mom's house. They are from 1974 and they are hilarious. I can picture these items getting served at our church banquets and birthday parties. No wonder us kids thought that hot dogs and macaroni and cheese were the bomb.

Who would want to eat this?

Or this?

Or this?


Or drink this? Holy cow. How did we all survive the '70s?

You have to click on the site CandyBoots so you can see the FRANKFURTER SPECTACULAR!!!!

I'm not kidding.

It reminds me of a story. I had never heard of a frankfurter until about 1979.  We had just moved from Novi, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, to Bethel, Connecticut. My sister had been invited to a friends house for lunch, or dinner, I don't remember which, they told her they were having frankfurters. Kathy ran home to ask my mom if she could eat at their house, and to find out if she liked frankfurters. We all died laughing when my mom told her they were hot dogs. Of course I didn't know what it was either. But I was the older sister and wouldn't admit THAT. We were from the midwest where things were simpler. We never heard of fancy things like pasta. They are noodles people. And what is soda? Isn't that an ice cream drink. Anyway, I digress. The word frankfurter made all these memories come rushing back.

You know what else I just remembered? The wine my mom drank. It was called Tyrolia. It came in a huge jug. Huge. We would put it on the bottom of the grocery cart. It was our job to make sure it didn't roll off the bottom. Sorry, mom. I'm sure you had no choice. And I have no idea why that popped in my head.

So I hope you enjoy your trippy flashback to 1974. I dare someone to make one of these recipes. And eat it. ha!  Better wear your maxi dress and your cork platforms when you do.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

French wines.

I have a sensitive palate when it comes to French wines.  But this morning I am a bit perplexed.

Last night we opened a bottle of this Ch. Ballan-Larquette Bordeaux.

It smelled like barn, hay, horses -- and tasted the same. Blech.

So this morning I decided I would write about it.

I don't think I've ever had wine in the morning. But I wanted to describe the barnyard aromas and taste so I poured a teeny, tiny bit in a glass so I could smell it and taste it for a description. And much to my surprise it had a lovely blackberry smell, with just the faintest whiff of earth. And the taste is fruity, like blackerries.

hmmmm. Where did the horse and barn go?  Maybe this wine just needed to open up and breathe.

Or maybe because I'm tasting wine at 8am I have a fresh palate? I wonder when the best time of day is to sample wines? I asked Don if he would smell it and taste it to confirm that I'm not crazy. He looked at me like I'm crazy. "No." was his short and firm answer. ooooooookay.

Maybe I could come to like French wines. I'll have to pull out the decanter and see what happens. This is exciting!!  Stay tuned for more updates on French wine.

And check this out! Here is the description on the BevMo website. I nailed it! Sweet.

GOLD MEDAL, 2009 LOS ANGELES INT'L WINE & SPIRITS COMP. A superb effort, the '07 Ch Ballan-Larquette is a classic Bordeaux; fine red fruit flavors with an accent of sweet earth.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Dinner and a movie.

Happy Friday! It's dinner and a movie night. And my recommendation is Alice and Wonderland.

Yep. We saw it last weekend with Elli and her friend Susana and it's fabulous. It's not too scary for kids. I'm not sure I would take toddlers, but our 8 year olds did just fine and loved it.

I don't know how they do the live action and animation, but it's pretty incredible. And the costumes. I couldn't stop staring at the incredible dresses that Alice wore, and the red queen and the white queen, and Johnny Depp - - everyone actually. It was simply amazing to see. Colleen Atwood is the costume designer. Wow. She is one talented lady.

She's won a couple Oscars already. I believe there is another one in her future.

Here's the trailer in case you've been living in a hole and haven't seen it. ha. Get it? In a hole. WAHH.

Alice in Wonderland

I might just have to see it again.

Photos from movieline.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Happy Thursday.

Phew. I made it to Thursday. One day to go before the weekend. Then FREEDOM for two days!

Freedom from what you ask? Am I in prison? In a "help" center. No, just work. You know, ordinary stuff that's causing my head to spin like the chick in the Exorcist movie. Last year it caused my third eye to twitch. This year I feel like I'm getting punk'd everyday. Where the heck is Ashton Kutcher? I get it. I'm a dope.

I've had it with.....
  • Making sense of it all
  • Turkey sandwiches and carrot sticks. Blah.
  • Biting my tongue and holding my breath everyday. 
  • Cursing
  • Being paranoid
  • Anxiety attacks 
  • Panic attacks
  • Things that attack me
  • Spreadsheets
  • Lists
  • Cyclists in the city. Are you trying to get run over?
  • Flakey tourists. You too. Are you trying to get run over? Get back on the sidewalk. Doh!
  • My treadless tires.
  • Gas that costs $3.19 gallon
  • And that I can't figure out how to get the messages sent in Hotmail on my iphone. grrrrrr.
Thank goodness for....
  • The people that try to parallel park everyday outside my window. You bring a smile to my face.
  • My friends at work. 
  • The sweet faces I see when I get home.
Ok. I feel better. Sorry if I brought you down man. Sometimes ya just gotta vent.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Roche Bobois couch refresh

Let me just say right up front, I love the furniture at Roche Bobois.

When we lived in Connecticut there was a Roche Bobois store down the road in Westport that we'd go visit. We loved the modern furniture, the sleek lines, and contemporary feel. We knew that someday we would buy something from them. It was just a matter of money. Ha! Their furniture is expensive. $$$ But the style and quality of the workmanship was exactly what we wanted. We just had to figure out how to pay for it.

Fast forward a few years....we finally had the resources to buy a couch from them. It was a big investment. And I mean big. I think you could buy a small car for what we paid for that couch. We chose a chenille for the cushions and ultra suede for the base. We didn't want leather. We'd been there, done that. We wanted something cozy, yet still contemporary.

But that was back when things were quite different in our lives. Elli wasn't in the picture yet. Don was working in NYC for a big agency (making big bucks) and I was a road warrior traveling all over the country.

That was 10 years ago. And guess what? Roche Bobois is still selling the same couch! Here it is on the Roche Bobois website (see white couch below). I still love the design of this couch. But after 10 years it has started to wear and the back cushions were in need of re-stuffing. And now instead of working in NYC we live in the SF Bay Area and own a custom furniture store in Napa.

So, lucky for us we can refresh this couch ourselves at the store. But since this is a project that won't make the store (or us) any money it took FOREVER to get done. But now it's all done and it's soooooo nice. It doesn't look that much different from the original couch. But we weren't looking for a style change - just a refresh.

And here it is in our house. Our style isn't as contemporary. But we love the contemporary lines.



We chose a gorgeous, good quality wool from Donghia, which wasn't inexpensive. But we want this to last another 10 years. Plus it's so soft and cozy.

And now it's just like new.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

3rd Grade Book Club

A few of our friends invited us to join their book club for 3rd graders. We went to the 1st meeting a week ago.  It was really fun chatting with the moms, having dinner, drinking some wine, then listening to the girls discuss the book. I don't hang around moms much because I'm always working. So it was fun getting out.

Last month's book was perfect for Elli, Hearbeat by Sharon Creech. Not too hard. Not too long. "An easy book" according to all the moms.  Hmmmmm

So at the end of the evening as we're all trying to leave, one of the mom's asks who wants to have it at their house next month. Somehow my name got tossed in the ring because they know we have a clubhouse here and before I knew it I said "Sure, I can rent the clubhouse. We can meet there!"

What they don't know is that I immediately started to panic. What book would I pick? We joined the book club so that Elli would learn that reading is fun and that she needs to start reading harder books. She doesn't like reading, it's a huge battle every day. But picking the right book is a lot of pressure. It can't be too easy or too hard. Aaaaaaaah!!! I had no idea what book to pick. None.

I asked her teacher for advice. She gave me a long list of authors and ideas. But not a definite "this is the perfect book for the book club." My friend  Cori said she could give me suggestions too.

So I went to the book store. Elli picked out every book with a puppy or kitty on the cover. "No, that is not book club appropriate," I would say.  It had to be harder than a book Elli would pick and it definitely would not be a comic book - nice, Elli.

I finally found one that looked interesting and Elli begrudgingly agreed, only because it had a few illustrations sprinkled throughout the book.  We (I) chose Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. It involves animals, but not puppies, and it's 233 pages. Gulp. Honestly, I'm not sure how we'll get through it.

Last night we sat down and read the second chapter together, OUTLOUD. Because I need to read this too, so we're going to do it together.

I was actually pleasantly surprised (relieved) to find that she's a pretty good reader when she's focused. She got stumped by a few words, but they were hard, and she has a tendency to run right through the period which makes it hard to understand the paragraph. But with a little help from me, she got through the chapter and she actually enjoyed it. Thank goodness.

So now we have until March 28th to finish the book and write up 10 discussion guide questions. I have to reserve and pay for the club house, then figure out what to have for dinner for 10 girls and 10 moms (taking into consideration the milk and wheat allergies that I know two people have - because we discussed it over wine.)

Honestly, this is stress and pressure I really don't need. Of course I'm causing all the stress and pressure myself. No one is making me do this. It's just supposed to fun. Don just shakes his head at me as usual.

I know, I'm a dork.

Monday, March 8, 2010

When Harry Met Sally - The Horror Remix

Last Friday we were editing a radio and tv spot in San Francisco.  Our voiceover talent asked us if we had seen the video on You Tube of "When Harry Met Sally" remixed as a horror flick. None of us had seen it so we immediately clicked on You Tube to watch it.

We were all dieing laughing. It turns out there are several trailers like this "The Shining", "Mary Poppins" all remixed to be the opposite of their original genre.

I emailed it out to a few people, including Don, because I thought it was hilarious. So when I got home I asked him if he watched it. His response? "It's not new ya know. I saw that when I was at Ogilvy." And that was that. He left Ogilvy in 2005.

Well. I don't care. It's new to me. And I think it's funny. So I'm going to share it with you guys. And if you too saw it YEARS ago, keep it to yourself. Just humor me and watch it. You don't have to like it, or think it's funny. Just pretend it is.

Ok. It's funny right?  Right?


I realized I haven't been talking about cooking much lately.

We're still cooking, and eating, here in the Mulkey house. In fact, as I sit here on the couch with my laptop in my lap, I see evidence of a food consumption in the tummy that is staring at me. Blah.

I just haven't cooked or eaten anything that's blog worthy. What I need is someone to take me to a fabulous dinner somewhere so I can brag about it all day and all night. Hint, hint.

The phone isn't ringing.  Bummer.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Advertising to kids. Use your common sense.

Elli and I have been having a conversation about advertising for about a week.

Elli watches two channels on tv. Channels 53 and 55.  For those of you that are not our neighbors, 53 and 55 are Disney and Nickelodeon. (Elli refers to them by number for some reason.)

She started complaining about the Nationwide Insurance commercials a few weeks ago. "Mom, why is Nationwide on my channel. I can't drive. I'm not buying insurance.  That's, you know, the D word." That would be dumb.

Then on comes a car commercial. "Mom, I can't buy a car? Why are they on the Disney channel? We can't buy cars. We're kids." mmm hmmmm. Good question Elli.

Then a Walmart commercial comes on. This she gets. She understands Walmart commercials, Save Money. Live Better. She has the tagline memorized and she's fascinated by it. Especially since we have become much more money conscious lately. We've been watching every penny and I'm teaching her to do the same. She's even asked if I will take her to Walmart someday. She thinks it's awesome that they sell everything from toys, to groceries to clothes to detergent. "Mom, that's cool! We have to go there." I know there is a Walmart somewhere. I'm just not sure where. I'll put it on my list of cheap activities!  Ha.

So what about these other advertisers? Nationwide? Car commercials? Your audience is 8 years old.

I understand why they THINK Disney and Nickelodeon are good choices. I'm sure the media planners and buyers (who are single and under 25) have visions of mothers and children happily watching Sponge Bob together. WRONG!!!  Have they forgotten what life was like as a child?

I hate to break it to you, but when the kids are plunked in front of the tv the moms are cooking, cleaning, showering, working on the computer, doing laundry, tending to another child. They are not. And I repeat. They (we) are NOT watching Sponge Bob or iCarly. We can hear it in the background. Just like we hear the dog barking, the kids fighting and the timer going off on the microwave. We are not watching the show or the commercials. Get it? You're wasting your money. Go to Lifetime, TNT, Bravo, COM other networks where adults are watching. You will be much more successful. And you won't be making bad impressions on impressionable young minds. My daughter thinks you're not very smart. And she's only 8. Gonna have some work to do on the "brand building."

I'm in the ad business. So she's probably more aware of commercials than the average kid. But still, she's right. It's just common sense.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mid-century modern furniture. Trash to treasure.

We recently redid a chair for one of our friends in Mill Valley. Most of our customers are up in Napa since that's where our business is located. But we're slowly doing more and more work for friends here in Mill Valley, and San Francisco, which is awesome.

The style of homes in our area is much different than in Napa. There are a lot of mid-century modern homes, and furniture, which is a cool, funky style to work on. 

My friend loves mid-century modern furniture and has a thing for finding "treasures" at flea markets, yard sales, etc. The problem is that they are often not in the best condition.  And more often than not are funky in color and fabric choices.

She has a blue chair that she found years ago which had seen better days. Apparently her mom kept asking her why she didn't throw it out. She had plans for this chair. She knew she could repair it, and reupholster it, and it would be better than new. That's where we come into the picture.

Here is what the chair looked like before.

And here is what it looks like now. Tada! We stained the legs a darker, walnut color and upholstered it in a gorgeous fabric from Designers Guild. It really looks great with her black couch.

Next up is the orange chair in the background.


I love the curve on the bottom and the newly stained dark wood trim.

aaaaah. So much better. Right?

This style of furniture is really popular around here because we have a lot of mid-century modern homes. There was a real estate developer by the name of Joseph Eichler who lived in the area and built 11,000 modernist homes between 1950 -1974. They are known for open floor plans, walls of glass and atriums. My friend Amy's home is not an Eichler. But it's definitely a more modern, open floorplan.

Here's an Eichler house that is on the market right now in San Rafael (a town that is a suburb of San Francisco.)  It's a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home, 1,551 sf, listed for $685,000. Believe it or not, that's a bargain around here. So there is a lot of opportunity to revive old, worn out, mid-century modern furniture. Especially for folks that want authentic/period furniture in their mid-century home.

Eichler atriums and courtyards are often placed right in the middle of the home so they can be viewed from many rooms. This house was definitely staged. It's too neat and clutter free!

It's an interesting concept. Not everyone is a fan, but many people are. It's very California, isn't it? Reminds me of the Brady Bunch house!

Eichler home photos from