Fully utilizing & enjoying outdoor spaces!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Christmas Countdown.......Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from my family to yours!
Eric and Chris

Here is our Christmas countdown.....
Christmas lights on house...check
Decorate front entry...check

Carry in Christmas Tree...check

Carry in kids' Christmas Tree...check
Decorate Christmas Tree...check

Watch school Holiday Performance...check

Decorate mantle with Nutcracker Collection...check

Make Christmas Cookies for friends and neighbors...check

Yum...the boys' favorite Holiday Treat...

Chocolate Crackle Cookies
(This is a cookie my grandmother made at Christmas)
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup Hershey's cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water stirring. Set aside, and let cool. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl: set aside.
2. Mix butter and brown sugar on medium until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Mix in eggs and vanilla, and then the melted chocolate. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture along with milk. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.
3. Roll dough into 1" balls and roll in granulated sugar and then powered sugar. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
4. Bake for 14 minutes. Let cool. Cookies can be stored in air tight containers for up to 3 days.

makes 5 dozen
(Developed from Martha Stewart's Cookie Cookbook)

Have 5 year olds over to decorate Gingerbread Houses...check
(I always buy Gingerbread House kits from Michaels,
they are a super easy kit that includes
everything and look great!)

When they were done I added even more candy...it was so fun

Wrap gifts...check

December 23rd....relaxing Holiday Lunch
with good friends at Marche Moderne...check

Christmas Eve tradition with best friends.....
Nativity church service and elegant dinner at our house...check

Christmas Dinner with family at Pinot Provence...check

December 26th it's off to Mammoth.......ahhhhhh

Our littlest skier...

The big boys love the mountains...

Snowball fights...my favorite....

Oh well...we might get snowed in!

Have a happy and safe New Year........

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Yard Work

My late Grandparents, Jack and Pat Boyd
of Sherman Oaks, Cailfornia.

The Holidays are a time to reflect and remember those who have touched our lives. My Grandparents considered gardening both a hobby and a chore. They passed away several years ago, but I often think of the many ways they influenced my life. In their day (they graduated from college in the 1940's), very few people hired professional Landscape Gardeners or Designers. Although they considered their landscaping a thing of beauty, like many people they toiled in their own yard on weekends. Even though it might have been labor intensive, they fully embraced the process of what they called yard work.

On his free time, my grandfather lovingly tended his perfect lawn, a constant source of pride. Seasonally, my grandmother diligently replaced her garden borders with annual color like petunias, impatiens, begonias, marigolds, viola and more. Every Spring, my grandfather planted terracotta pots with strawberry plants and I remember many happy times hunting ripe strawberries as I played in the yard.

In Summertime, my grandparents would transform their yard for outdoor entertaining. The layout out of their yard was simple, a brick patio with a large grass area surrounded by planter beds and a huge Sycamore Tree for shade. Their BBQ was, of course, a Weber Grill and when it was time to entertain this space became our home outdoors. Indoor tables and chairs were brought out onto the patio. Crisp linen tablecloths and napkins made the outdoor space feel finished. White twinkle lights in the trees offered ambiance.

Meals were prepared, potato salad with tangy BBQ'd chicken and, of course, my grandmother's favorite, the Brown Derby Cobb Salad, yum! For dessert they made their speciality, homemade vanilla ice cream with the old hand crank machine. Everyone would help turn the crank with anticipation of this perfect Summertime desert.

As a child I subconsciously studied the care my Grandparents lovingly took with all of these outdoor living details. They worked hard on their yard and their outdoor space was truly their sanctuary. Without exactly knowing it, their yard work created a simple yet sophisticated aesthetic. I think about them often as I create outdoor living spaces at Garden Studio Design.

Enjoy the Holiday Season!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Enchanted in L.A.

Sometimes it is the well appointed details that make the biggest difference. Garden Studio Design transformed a backyard that was seldom used into an enchanting destination that reflects the homes refined appointments.

A salvaged wood mantel with votives is one of the
first things guests see as they enter the backyard.

The loggia was built right off the family room
with a fireplace and seating for 8-10 people.

The new loggia is furnished with the same level of detail as any interior space. A far cry from the 'garden center' furnishing that sat outside unoccupied prior to the landscape remodel. (Before pictures will follow.)

Chic custom cushions and pillows give
the landscape remodel a tailored feel.

A rustic garden path leads the visitor to a garden retreat.

The new private garden off the living room's
grand scale windows provides a glimpse
of the outdoors and invites guests to tour the garden.

Although this yard is long and skinny
one outdoor room leads into the next.

This Gloster dining table and chairs are one of my favorites. I love the mix of teak table with woven chairs. These chairs look like wicker but are actually a polyethylene based product (plastic). These chairs are completely weatherproof and extremely hard wearing.

The architecture of the house evokes an English Estate.

The property is located in the canyons of L.A.
and this hillside of perennials sets the scene.

An extra large Spa with an 'infinity edge' is
perfect for a cool dip on hot Summer days.

This fountain was designed and
built to evoke an old world flavor.

Below are the photos of the yard before
Garden Studio got a hold of it.

This yard suffers from what I call the 'Garden Center Aesthetic'. This is a picture of the patio before the Loggia was built and the seating in the photo is practical but so dull and uninviting.

This is the location of the new spa.

This is the location of the current rustic garden path.

This is where the secret garden is
now located off the formal living room.

Now you can see why I do what I do......................I just love
a story with a happy ending.