Dining Al Fresco

 Where did Spring go?
Are you a lover of dining outside?  
I sure am and we try do do it as much as the weather will permit

Simple tables are beautiful in the garden and does the food taste better outside?

 I have saved a boat load of images from magazines over the years
 and love to pull them out for inspiration 
 Now that we all use Pinterest we can save our favorites digitally 
and look at them everyday if we need to....
 I'm not sure which magazines I pulled these from 
but I suspect some are over ten years old
 But it is wonderful how a beautiful garden setting 
and a dining table are timeless
 Wicker in the garden.....a classic favorite
 And of course cafe' style chairs....love this table!!!!
 those lanterns!!!!
 modern farmhouse dining
 shabby and weathered with hydrangea....so pretty
 a little photo inspiration 
for the long weekend coming up
 these last three are from our little house in Ojai
we had some memorable and wonderful meals in the garden....(big sigh)

have a relaxing holiday and see you soon!



A New Chair for Twister

Have you ever watched the BBC series Lark Rise To Candleford?
It ran for 4 seasons finally ending in 2011 
but you can watch it now on Amazon or Netflix.  

The series is set in 19th century Oxfordshire England with wonderful character actors, many of whom you will recognize from your favorite Masterpiece Classics such as Downton Abbey.

As with all BBC productions, the costuming and sets are wonderful.  It is worth watching just for that but the semi autobiographical story lines are charming, funny and sometimes a little sad

 There is love and gossip
 jealousy and envy, all of which make the series great
(and the hats are over the top great!!!)
  what I enjoyed most were the characters of 
Twister and his wife Queenie

Twister is a lazy lovable curmudgeon who sells nuts for a living and when he's not sleeping, complaining or hiding from Queenie 
he drinks away the rent money
then stumbles home to sit in his chair by the fire

 With no money for rent,
 Queenie decides sell Twisters chair to the Tallyman for 2 pounds....
just enough to get them through the winter

 Twister of course is furious and his way of punishing Queenie
 is to sleep with his feet at the head of the bed
A very clever idea I would say!
The tiny bed totally cracks me up too

 Queenie feels terrible and vows to get the chair back
 but alas it is long gone

They reconcile and all is forgiven but Twister is without a chair and now must be content sitting on a wooden box....his head resting on Queenies shoulder 

 I love old hand sewn linens and mismatched scraps of fabric and decided to slipcover
 two modern wing chairs 
in a manner fitting lovable Twister and Queenie

sent me about 6 old French grain sacks 
all with hand sewn mismatched patches...much like Twisters britches

The sacks were opened up and placed on the chairs 
in order show old monograming and all of the interesting vintage hand sewing
as you look at the chair from the front

We also used plain homespun and some additional striped fabric 
to in fill in areas where we needed larger pieces.

The fabric is very old cotton, flax and hemp
with simple dye and lots of texture

The seats are down with extra fill
for a large crown at the seat
The sipper runs down the center back and is covered with a large flap 
which I think makes sense with a rustic chair cover like this.
 Why try to hide the zipper?

The sacks and fabric were washed twice and I always use lots of fabric softener.
 Any areas that started to unravel were repaired or hand stitched prior to sewing all of the pieces together
 to make the final slipcovers

If you are a good seamstress you could probably do this project at home 
but I used an upholsterer that I love and trust 
they know how crazy some of my projects have been, so nothing really throws them.

The chairs are one of the first things I designed for our Santa Barbara casa 
and I think they look right at home!

The chairs were made by Van Thiel & Company 
and can be found at a variety of retailers...without the slips of course

I'm enjoying this little old house much more than I thought I would.
The garden is a huge mess but coming along slowly so I will share what I can soon

Have a wonderful weekend...I can't believe its already May!




Designing A Garden For The Future

 We finally have begun working on the new garden 
here in Santa Barbara
Once again rocks seem to pop up out of nowhere....do big rocks make more baby rocks?...
sure looks that way 

The rocks we excavated in Ojai were granite 
and here in Santa Barbara they are sandstone 
so they are a bit lighter and easier to move....
at least I think they are but I actually haven't picked any of these big boys up!

And just as we did in Ojai all the rocks we dig up 
will be re-used in the landscape in some way.

 It's actually pretty fun and creative to re-use what you have
 and re-think the possibilities.

 The yard will be enclosed by low walls 
and have a series of small garden rooms and stone landings
 The far west end of the lot will be a kitchen garden for vegetable's and herbs 
as well a seasonal cutting bed.  I have always wanted a cutting bed just for bulbs and specific seasonal flowers for arrangements so I'll give it a try here.  The beds will have special low volume netafim drip tubing and smart irrigation solutions for water conservation 
 We made a decision to completely eliminate all sod, plants and garden elements that could be 
"water hogs"
from the design.  
I really love a beautiful green lawn but the drought here in California is very severe.  

It seemed selfish and a bit short sighted to not use this opportunity to really re-think how a California garden can look with limited water.

Creating a garden for the future that can be sustained 
is where garden design is heading. 

 Most landscape architects are very focused on water use and most of the larger landscape companies have been tasked to design and build parks and urban gardens with a focus on water conservation. 

 Almost all new developments have reclaimed water plans in place and pools, ponds and huge swaths of sod are going to be a challenge to be built in the very near future.  

Also many growers here in California have developed hybrid trees and plants that are not only beautiful 
but can live happily with very little water.

So I guess this garden will take a little more thought on my part 
but I think I will feel better in the end knowing we got it right.
so....that said...the simple goal is:
 to have a great yard that requires limited water, 
 is relatively easy to care for....but...still looks awesome!

 The low garden walls will be bright white stucco with a rough hand troweled finish 
to match the old stucco on the house from the 1920's
 There is a lot of creative masonry going on here.  I had a long talk with the boulders and told them that they would either have to be blown up !....or they can stay, be nice and become part of the wall...I guess they're staying.

 Masonry work is hard work...seriously hard.  
It's dirty and hot and just about everything involved is heavy.
Many of the larger stones will be cut here on site 
and used for raised beds, columns and hard scape features
The stone is cut first with a wet saw and then shaped 
with a hammer and chisel to the size and shape needed

The stone above was cut and shaped into a cap for the entry columns.
The masons we have hired are really talented and such hard workers.  It is really interesting watching them and they take great pride in what they do.  

 As usual, the inside of the house will be neglected finished last 
but that gives us more time to make good decisions about the renovation possibilities 

 Millie seems to find the best spots for a nap...
either right in a hot dry patch of dirt or under a shady tree

both spots sound pretty darn good...especially if your a dog or a gardener!



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