Monday, September 23, 2013

I{HEART}ART: Inspiration: Downtown!
"Eighth Avenue" by Tina C. Wells
This doesn’t look like downtown San Diego, does it? This past week I was on a project that took me downtown to this historic home. Surrounded on every side by condos and high rises, somehow this old house survived. Built nearly a century ago around 1920, this property has a lovely courtyard, large lawn, old gnarly pepper trees, and a separate craftsman-style casita. It has been completely renovated and updated and is currently on the market. In the process of renovation, the exterior, consisting of large handmade clay blocks, was in bad shape and had been painted. The goal in renovation had been to bring the house up to modern standards without loosing the original historical context. Unfortunately, paint alone on the exterior did not accomplish this. That’s how I became part of the project; I was hired to bring back an aged look to the clay blocks on the entire exterior. 

Old gnarly pepper tree

The historic El Cortez can be seen over the roofline 

View from the street...a passerby would never guess what lies behind the gate.


AFTER (notice the "91" etched in the original clay)

Interior designer, Sandra Vila (, did a wonderful job making the home current and comfortable, but with a nod to the historical past. I was particularly taken with the beautiful tiles that are in the bathrooms and kitchen that reflect early California, and give personality to the space.

Side note... While working downtown, James and I headed to our San Diego favorite: Cafe Chloe: French cafe, sidewalk tables, delicious food, interesting wines. Love it! Corner of 9th and G. 

RECIPE: Cheese Plate

Yesterday was officially the first day of Autumn. As the weather cools down, the gatherings move from outdoors in. Invite some friends over and ask everyone to bring a drink and appetizer... it’s the easiest party to host, casual and fun. One of my favorites is the Cheese Plate. 

My cheese plate is a little messy, but in the best way possible. I start with at least 3 cheeses that are quite different from one another. I often choose a few that are my favorites and then throw a new one I’d like to try into the mix (cut smaller amounts from large blocks). After arranging the cheeses on the platter, I add handfuls of several kinds of nuts and dried fruits in between. My last key ingredient is a small dish of honey for guests to drizzle onto a bite of cheese. The platter should set out about 30 minutes before your guests arrive so the cheese is room temperature. Place a cheese knife out and separately a basket of crackers or bread. These ingredients are a little expensive, but if you have several parties, like during the holidays, there will be enough to make about 3 platters. 

What’s on this plate?

Goat cheese
Double Gloucester Cotswold Cheese with Chives
Dutch Gouda
White Cheddar
Brie with Wild Mushrooms

Spiced Pecans
Marcona Almonds with Rosemary

Golden Raisins
Dried Cranberries

Almondina biscuits 
Raw Honey
Sprigs of Rosemary

*note: Trader Joe’s is a great place to pick up a great variety of nuts and cheeses at good price!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I{HEART}ART: Inspiration: Spoon!
"Silver Spoon" by Tina C. Wells
After 14 years, I am redesigning my home. It all started with a flood...and one thing led to another. I found myself re-envisioning, repainting, and recreating. I will bring you along on this journey as I progress. Our first step has been to paint. I've left my warm buttery walls and ventured down the cool sleek path of gray. I love an element of surprise, something a little funky or unexpected, so several large painted silver pieces have been added to my cozy kitchen (cozy is a nice way of saying ridiculously small). And if I can't have a silver spoon in my mouth, then how about on my wall.

SIMPLY CREATIVE: Specialty Paint Finish

A few months back I published a post on the bountiful produce at Hillside Ranch. Today I am showcasing a specialty finish I did in the powder room there. The old french toile wallpaper was removed and the walls were painted a tomato red. Over the red, I applied a pearlescent paint that had a golden overtone, with a little water based glaze mixed in. I applied the entire finish with a large brush, stroking in all different directions so as to not create a pattern. The red base shone through with a golden glaze over the top. The finishing touch was to add a stencil, a very light, translucent application, randomly placed in balance around the small room. I wanted to share the lovely effect with you. 

The next specialty finish is in a very small office/nook. The client wanted something lively in the small space and decided on a metallic teal. The space is vibrant and a little bit sassy!

Want to try this yourself? I could write a book on my 20 years of experience with specialty finishes and glazes... so instead I will give you a few guidelines and say, “EXPERIMENT!” (or call me- I’d be happy to apply a specialty finish for you!). This is a water-based metallic finish, just one technique of many that I have done over the years. 

If you are a San Diego resident, Modern Masters Metallic Paint can be purchased at Bayside Paint, off Moreno Blvd. Dunn Edwards carries a smaller selection of this paint as well. Start with an eggshell or low sheen paint finish (not flat), and keep in mind that the paint color you choose can come through depending on your application. If applying as a glaze, thin 1/4 with water based glaze (Benjamin Moore) and ‘haphazardly’ brush on, stroking in different directions. If you are going for an opaque metallic sheen, buy the Modern Masters roller and follow the directions they give. I applied this finish with the special roller in my sister’s living room in a champagne tone with gorgeous results. The final product was a subtle luster, very elegant.

RECIPE: Carlson Iced Tea
Sweet tea infused with lemon and mint

This was my grandmother’s recipe, originating in New York. It was at every poolside summer gathering...a family favorite. It is Oh-So-Refreshing on a hot day (and slightly addictive). 

3 quarts water
3-4 black tea bags
5 3-inch sprigs of fresh mint (a handful)
1/2 cup honey
6 oz frozen lemonade concentrate (1/2 can), defrosted
Several lemon slices

Boil 3 quarts of water in a large kettle. Turn off heat and add 3-4 black tea bags (I use 4 as I like the tea strong). Steep 20 minutes, then remove without squeezing the bag. Add fresh mint sprigs, steep 5 minutes. Add honey and stir until completely melted. Add lemonade concentrate and several slices of lemon. Allow to cool completely (several hours) and then remove lemon and  mint. Transfer to a pitcher(s) and refrigerate. To serve to guests, pour over ice and garnish with fresh mint sprigs and fresh lemon slice.