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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Valentines Day Decor

Our kitchen island is decorated with round red vases made in Spain from recycled glass that I found at one of my favorite shops in Wimberley, Blue Willow that is owned by my friend Judy Bowman. The red glass hurricanes with hand decorated shell bases were made for me as a birthday present from my sister Robin. The blue and white talavera flower pot is one of Chuck's favorite pieces that he found at Carlos O'Dockerty's antique booth at Austin Antique Marketplace. My sister Flora also has a booth there called Toca Madera. The white tulips came from Crate & Barrel. The large blue and white talavera hurricanes with hand blown glass came from El Alamo.

My blue and white talavera urns that I bought at the market in San Antonio are filled with red amaryllis from another excellent shop owned by friend Temple Wynne of River House in Wimberley, Pottery Barn, and Crate & Barrel. My cousin Flora, my favorite shopping partner, gave me four more Red Amaryllis for Christmas.

The red glass hurricanes with hand decorated shell bases were made for me as a birthday present from my sister Robin. She says that her fingers still have not recovered yet from the hot glue gun burns. We moved out our bench in the kitchen area so Liz and Trevor have some space to set up their musical equipment.

Last year I found several new favorite Valentine accessories: red heart bud vases, hand blown from Mexico that my good friends from Cierra had made for me. We used these as the center pieces on the dinner tables for our Valentines Dinner Concert on Feb 13th. For more red color, we added red goblets from Breed & Co and Sur La Table. To add a romantic ambiance we put red glass votive holders with candles from Catholic Arts & Gifts and the Bleu Frog in Corpus Christi, Texas.

We have great flexibility in our large room for all sizes of events and entertaining. We can move our 48 inch round Moroccan table with Italian iron base out from under the antler chandelier and bring in as many tables as needed for special dinning in that space. We can also move out our sofa, coffee table, armchairs, elephants, and daybed and bring in all different sizes, shapes of tables depending on our needs for an event. We had 30 guests for our Valentines dinner with reservations for four tables of two, which we grouped in the center in front of the fire place. We also had three tables of four and one large table of ten.

Above, our good friend Brian Sweat, a talented Austin architect, taking in the ambiance. He came with his wife, artist Anne Nelson Sweat. Brian and Trevor, the guitarist, had a nice conversation about guitars because Brian used to build fine guitars back in Connecticut.

I worked with several different forged iron companies on reproducing more of my favorite iron table designs based on an original, smaller table that I found. Roberto & Ricardo Mata and his brother reproduced the 8 foot rectangular table for a very reasonable price in several lengths and widths. The heart backed French style came from Kay at Kay O'Toole Antiques and the white canvas cushions were made by Jenny at Slipworks in Austin. I have collected iron garden dining seating from all different sources for 174 people and I'm still looking for more. Our concrete floor stained with cola color from Kemico to match one of my old leather purses was done by Mike Dunn, a local Austin contractor. It's such a practical floor for us as we live in the country with four dogs and lots of traffic. The floors are easily maintained after the abuse they receive from all of our events. The only downside to stained concrete floors is that they are slippery when wet and can be colder in the winter. The dogs love laying down on their stomachs on the cool floors in the summer.

We got the Moroccan table with the blue background and yellow stars from Karim at Santa Kilim in Santa Fe. The iron base it rests on came from a store on South Lamar owned by a man who brought in furniture and accessories from his native city of Rome. The table top is very heavy and needed as strong base to support it. The pretty clear goblets are made in Turkey from Pottery Barn. I love them because they remind me of Baccarat, but on an affordable level for me.

I rented red napkins and nice silver flatware for 30 from Austin Party Central.I used my clear glass salad and dinner plates from Wal-Mart for dinner. One of the guests, Cristina, and I laughed about the glass plates as we met each other at Wal-Mart in the check out line. When I was buying a large quantity of plates for a rehearsal dinner, She told me her daughter, Amanda, might be getting engaged sometime soon and I gave her my San Michele card and told her too come see the venue. They ended up booking San Michele for their reception a year later. It was nice to have them come back for the concert and to discover they were also fans of Liz's singing and had been to see her at the Elephant Room and Evangeline Cafe. It's a small world.

For the wine and champagne bar, we used our silver pedestal urn from Baker Antiques in San Antonio. The Venetian mirror makes a beautiful backdrop for everything. Chuck found it at Sarah's store Shabby Slips in Austin. The red glass vases came from a furniture store on Congress. The white orchids are from Crate & Barrel.

The wine glasses are from World Market and the champagne flutes are from Garden Ridge. The glass and iron table is from a dealer from Canada who comes to Marburger Farm Antiques Show each year. The red votives and the transoms above the French doors add a wonderful nighttime ambiance and they look beautiful when the sunshine beams through glass in the daytime. I have them spread over all the tops of the doors. the mantle, and the tops of big wardrobes in the kitchen for a dramatic effect.

Photos by Inked Fingers

This vignette includes several of the wonderful antiques from James Powell that we have purchased over the years. The wooden reproduction table is from Peru. The Mexican blue and white pottery incensarios rest on the bakers rack from Dreyfus Antiques. The scrolled iron sconces work well with the the painted wooden retablos from artist Monica Sosaya Halford in Santa Fe. Anyone interested in collecting pieces made with this delicate iron scroll work should check out the incredible selection from FeriArte in Santa Fe. The Museum of Spanish Colonial Art and the annual Spanish Market are great places to learn more about retablos and Spanish art and culture. The colorful talavera bowl is from Los Pueblitos in the San Antonio Market Square. The green, Italian Vietri flower pots and agaves are from River House.

The shell on the left is a Florida Horse Conch and the shell on the right is an Atlantic Triton. The two shells on the bottom shelf are Melons, one is an Indian Volute and the other is a Mammal Volute.

Several years back I found some beautiful red poppies at the Georgia O'Keefe Museum that Chuck arranged in a wonderful green clay African census pot. Each point on the pot represents a villager! It reminds me of a wonderful succulent from the garden and I love how the red poppies really pop against my favorite newly covered blue chairs with Telar hand-woven cotton fabric from Spain. I found the wrought-iron table base at a Round Top Antiques Show from a dealer who has a booth at The Mews. We bought the tin candelabra on a trip to San Miguel de Allende from Señor Llama who has a wonderful shop and fabríca. We purchased the blue hurricane from Señor Vegas in Laredo who also carries many decorative pieces by Señor Llama.

I was so lucky to find one of my favorite shops Mediterranea had rented a space in the bottom of La Fonda. I had originally bought the mud cloth prints (that I still have in my living room) from them, many years ago when they still had a shop on Guadalupe.

I bought these chairs many years ago from Dreyfus Antiques, waiting all this time to find the right fabric so that I could have them reupholstered. I eventually got them reupholstered at John's Upholstery on South 1st. They are a great set of chairs because they are lightweight and easy to rearrange. I think this style is a great style to buy as it seems to be easy to find if you are interested in adding to your collection overtime. So they were truly my favorite Valentine's gift from my sweet heart Chuck! And I love that the whole ensemble looks so wonderful next to one of my favorite paintings, artist and architect, Steve Zagorski!

Bill Graham, one of the most patient rock masons I have ever known, went through several rock quarries in Jarrell til we found the weathered stone I wanted at AJ Brauer Stone. He made several samples of the flush struck mortar with just the right hint of pink to emanate the way the sand mortar in the older Texas houses look. I found the old railroad beam at an antique architectural supply store in San Antonio. The European mount deer head came from the Horse of a Different Color in San Antonio. The polished nautilus and snail turban shells came from Vickie Kienast, who has a room at Nick Brock Antiques in Dallas and a booth every year at Marburger Antiques show. The iron sconces came from Dreyfus antiques the Italian pottery puttie from James Powell.
My andirons Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum arouse the curiosity of many my guests. We found the andirons at White Swan antiques and originally bought them as a gift for our Client Wally because they reminded us of him. He declined our gift because he thought they looked too much like him and that his friends would tease him, so they ended up in our fireplace. Every time I look at them, they still remind me of Wally and make me happy. Chuck and I use our fireplace all year long for ambiance and sometimes keep the AC on just so we can take the heat. I decided to build a raised hearth so that I could see the fire better from any position in the room and to give people a nice, close up spot to sit and warm themselves. The delicate scroll iron hurricanes with stained glass panels came from James Powell Antiques. I would love to have some made in a much larger scale because they make such a beautiful shadows on the wall when they are filled burning candles.

My green glass lanterns came from Debris in Dallas. Mr Sandoval made the iron backplates for me. Mr. Herrera from Herrera's Ornamental Iron Works made the iron balcony for me based on the balcony I have always admired on the house on . Our wood casement windows and French doors and transoms came from Kolbe & Kolbe. My friend Bill helped me copy the style I wanted based on my Mother's windows and doors. I wanted a shelf space above the tops of the doors and windows so I would have room for my large collection of clear and colored glass votive candle holders. I have fun changing out the color schemes to coordinate with my event's themes. I think this passion for candles and glass comes from my childhood memories of sitting though long catholic masses at St. Mary's Cathedral. I found myself mesmerized by the flickering offertory candles and sunlight streaming through the magnificent stained glass windows.

Our front doors came from an architectural antique store in Houston. I painted them in my signature color, a shade of blue from Devoe Paints. To get the antique look, I paint everything with a base coat of black first and then wipe a diluted solution of the blue over the top. Our front doors seem to be a favorite spot for couples to pose in front of for their wedding pictures. Hiram Reed who used to be in the special mill works department of Calcasieu was very helpful in milling the door frames and making the transoms for my two sets of antique doors and the special crown molding on my mantle and wardrobes in the kitchen. He can be found at BMC millworks.

My big Valentine's present from Chuck, my shopper extraordinaire, this year was beautiful pansies from Sue Ellen's Florists in Buda. The fresh pansies reminded me of my Grandmother, who always had pansies growing in her garden at 2201 Enfield road. sent. One of my favorite childhood memories is of going out to the garden with my grandmother, picking special blooms, and filling vases with them to decorate her house. I found that the scent of different, fresh flowers take me back to my early garden experiences. I planted them around my fountain with the cherub statue from my Grandmother's garden and the cantera stone surround from Mexico that my mother gave me several years ago for my birthday. My friends Charles and Adrian had to scour the local HEB superstore, HEB, and Wal-Mart to aquire as many red offertory candles as the could find.

To get ready for open house that we had with Ruby Ranch, Kali-Kate, and Creekside, Chuck went to Lowes and bought white cyclamen, which he planted in our green and yellow vase d'anduze cherub urns that we bought at Adkins Antiques. These pots are some of my favorites, you can also find them at Dreyfus Antiques and Garden Gate in Houston. The fresh, blooming flowers cheered up our winter garden so much that we decided we needed more. So Chuck went back to Lowe's and found lots of beautiful pink, red, and fuchsia colored cyclamen and blue, purple pansies that we filled in our iron urns and jardeneirs from Adkins Antiques in Houston and Paradise Imports in Laredo.

By using bright, vibrant colors in containers in a garden as large ours we were able to make beautiful focal points without having to buy thousands of flowers. Paler color flowers would have not made such a bold statement in our 12 acre grounds. It's also important to choose the right flowers for the season like cold, hearty pansies and cyclamen in the winter, so they will last during the cold months. Poor Chuck, he also brought back beautiful geraniums, but I made him go back and exchange them for more cyclamen because I didn't want to have to bring them in and out of the house for the rest of the winter.

The bright colors of the cyclamen looked so pretty that I asked him to go back to Lowes to buy more so we could fill our Italian terracotta pots from Gardens which were imported from Imprunetta and pots from Miguel's Imports.

I think traditions are important during the holidays every year we drag out our red feather heart wreath that Chuck found. This year we hung it from the iron door bell that we picked up at Round Top. Guests are always amused that it serves as our door bell and have fun ringing it.

I always admire people who send Valentines cards that reflect their personal styles. My grandmother always sent beautiful, feminine cards decorated with white lace. On the other hand, my great aunt Sis, who was a true animal lover, always sent cards with animal themes and fresh, crisp greenbacks. She always signed her cards "Guess Who??". It makes me sad that I didn't save all those wonderful cards.

Although Chuck has never sent me a Valentine's card nor have I ever sent him one, I suppose our Valentines present is we tend to lavish each other with gifts and flowers!

Photo by Inked Fingers

Its great to have well made decorations on hand like the pomegranate wreath we bought at Crate & Barrel. To add a new twist to it, we placed it on the top of the iron urn and filled the center hole with some red Gerber Daisys that we bought at HEB and blue prim Roses that we picked up at Randalls. I think paper whites in the center would look nice as well. There are so many options of decorations that you can do with a classic iron urn, terracotta pot, and a good wreath.

Photo by Inked Fingers

My good friend Vicente Sandoval who had a welding shop in Buda for many years helped me copy and improve on a sample of one of my grandmother's iron hurricane standards. I love the flexibility we came up with in our redesign of the original. We added four bendable arms so we could interchange all of my different colors and styles of hurricanes. We also reinforced it with a L shape at the base for increased stability. For Valentines, we lined our front entry with red hurricanes and candles to welcome our guests to the concert with Liz Morphis, Jazz Singer, and dinner prepared by Chef Steve Southern. The red hurricane featured in this photo came from Tuesday Morning. The red amaryllis wreaths have been hanging on the front doors since before Christmas. I love to have the color red out during the cold, grey weather because it cheers me up. I can't wait for the topiary camellia bushes Chuck found at Home Depot to come into bloom. I think the drought this past summer affected them they are late this year.

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