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!

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