31 December, 2009

"10 - 9 - 8 - 7 . . . "

Greetings and Salutations,

The next time the sun rises over the east bay hills here in San Francisco - it will be the beginning of a new decade. of a new year. of a new day. and of another simple Friday. and another chance to start over. or a chance to simply keep going forward.

But, tonight will be filled with merriment.

And reveling crowds in the streets.

This last year has been such an amazing time for me. Celebrating some great successes with my business. Having the chance to perform with some amazing musicians and friends. And 2009 will always be remembered as the year that I started blogging (though I first began writing in late 2008 - no one but my mother and a few friends were reading until this year - lol.) And I love having the chance to share part of my life with you. And I hope the new year brings me further opportunities to meet more of you in person.

But, I've never been a huge 'party-goer' for New Years Eve. There have been a few years that I've seen the ball drop - and heard the clock strike midnight - but, most likely, I'm in bed - sleeping quietly - for I love to be up early on New Year's morning - usually for a long run. Clearing my head. Setting my sights on new goals. Putting it on paper. Making it happen.

So - my New Year's celebration is rarely about midnight - but more about the dawn. The eastern sky slowly beginning to illuminate. The new year slowly becoming a reality.

Ready. Set. 2010. Go.

Happy New Year,

25 December, 2009

"Aw . . . poop . . . "

"Candied Cookies"

Happy Christmas!

Greetings from the 'tartanscot kitchen' on a bright, beautiful Christmas morning. I've been up for hours getting some things ready for a holiday dinner I'm attending this afternoon. And I've made one of my favourite cookies.

My mother used to make these when my brother and I were kids - and we've always laughed at their appearance - because frankly, they look a little like 'poop,' but, good grief, they are the tastiest things on the earth. They bring back so many memories. From the 'milk and cookies' tradition when I was a kid - to 'hot tea and cookies' sitting with my mom, chatting about everything under the sun - in the years since I've moved away.

"Candied Cookies"

2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of milk
1 stick of butter
4 tablespoons of cocoa
2 1/2 cups of quick oats
3/4 cup of chopped walnuts and pecans
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1/2 cup of chunky peanut butter

combine sugar, milk, butter, cocoa in a medium saucepan and bring to a rolling boil-stirring occasionally. Let mixture boil of 90 seconds. Remove from heat.

Add in remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Spoon mixture onto wax paper. Let sit for 30 minutes until hard.


So yummy.

Also on their way to Christmas Dinner - Spiced Walnuts. Served in individual tartan cones.

And it wouldn't be a party without a pecan pie.

I hope everyone is having an amazing holiday.


24 December, 2009

"Happy, Happy Christmas . . . "

and best wishes for an amazing new year,

21 December, 2009

"Pucker Up . . . "

Greetings all,

Just a little something I found this morning. - it should totally make you a smile. As found on LaughingSquid.com

"Around thirty mischievous merry makers sneaked out in the dead of night on Friday, December 18th, to not-so-covertly install bundles of mistletoe over public spaces where people congregate in San Francisco. In a brief discussion with the mastermind behind this devious plan, he explained his motivations:

The theory is that by installing mistletoe over places like crosswalks, bus stops, the instersection in front of the ferry building, etc., we can cause a few moments where random folks will see the mistletoe, make eye contact, and then be faced with the choice of social norms: ignore the stranger and be a callous soulless creature, or smile and kiss a total stranger. I think this is interesting because most everyone wants to do the later, but not many people will take the risk of trying to kiss a stranger – unless there is encouragement.

The mistletoe can be found hovering above cross walk all along Valencia Street, The Castro, Church and Market area, the Ferry Building, and the Upper and Lower Haight. Go out and encourage people, or better yet, find some and lead by example."
- post by Burstein!

I'm putting on Chapstick before heading out for lunch,

19 December, 2009

"What's Black and White . . .? "

Scot Meacham Wood

". . . and Read All Over? . . . me."

Greetings all,

I'm just delighted as I can be to be featured in the San Francisco Chronicle's "Stylemaker Spotlight" series this weekend.

Click HERE for the complete article.


"I've been to London for Christmas . . . "

Greetings all,

For me, one of the most evocative opening lines in literature is from Out of Africa - "I had a farm in Africa." It feels like such a portentous statement. Those first six words let you know that the writer speaks of her time in Africa in the past tense. Something happened. Something changed.

Well, on a slightly smaller scale - I've been to London for Christmas. "been." Not "going," "been." Past tense. As in, not this year. I have several projects still in the 'thick of it' and don't feel comfortable being quite THAT far away for quite that long just at the moment. There was a crazed moment earlier in the week when went straight to Travelocity - grabbed a credit card - and thought "to hell with it - I'm going!" lol. But, after calming down - it's just not a good time to be away.

To say that I find London to be absolutely magical at Christmas is just a massive understatement. To be in a city filled with such rich history, such awe inspiring architecture, such beautiful music, and, well, such great shopping - jeez - I might run and grab my passport right now . . . .

Seeing this wonderful tree at the House of Parliament while on the way to Westminster Abbey for the Lessons and Carols service on Christmas Eve afternoon. Actually, it's usually still light as a pass by this tree - I tend to get to the service frightfully early so that I have a god place in line - and thus get a great seat.

Spending an afternoon at the National Gallery poking around at an amazing collection of artwork. And my other favourite The National Portrait Gallery is right around the corner.

Shopping at Covent Garden. The Paul Smith store is about 18 steps away from this little cafe and the first Neal's Yard Remedies shop is just down an alley, right around the corner.

Some years - it's been about more than just London. Riding on the Great North Eastern Railway, you an be in Scotland after a 4 or 5 hour trip up the coast . . . Passing through tiny villages. Seeing the rocking eastern coast of England.

with maybe a stop in Yorkshire - and another trip to Castle Howard.

Or maybe - Just straight through to Edinburgh - with its castle perched high on the rocky outcropping overlooking the city.

But, this year I'm here. In San Francisco. With great friends. Amazing music. A great business. And frankly, if yesterday is any sign, some wonderful weather.

And I wonder who might be sitting out there - wishing they were here . . .

with wander lust,

images all from google.

18 December, 2009

"Little Tree . . . "

little tree

by: e.e. cummings (1894-1962)

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower
who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly
i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid
look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,
put up your little arms
and i'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy
then when you're quite dressed
you'll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud
and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
"Noel Noel"
A favourite poem of mine.


17 December, 2009

"Hanging the Greens . . . "

Interior Designer, Mary McDonald

Good morning all,

So I would think by this point in my blogging, my clear, and clearly unending, fascination with holiday decorations should be fairly evident - lol. And I just ran across this old favourite last night - from Mary McDonald's wonderful home in Los Angeles - whilst I was looking through my inspiration files. (You DO realize that holiday of 2010 is just a short 12 months away! I tend to start planning early.)

I just love the cheerful "freshness" of the dining room. Again, it's just a simple colour story but, the masses of fresh greenery makes the space feel wondrous and magical.

"The multiple hues of silver, white and gray give the room a
light, uplifting feeling. Even though there's a bit of Marie-Antoinette
in me, I don't always try to gild the lily. I like simple rooms, too.
They add another layer to the story, which is always changing and never ends."
-Mary McDonald

The Main Stairway.

"Christmas gives me the opportunity to create an evocative,
almost theatrical setting with beautiful treasures I collect
on my trips," says McDonald, whose visit to India last year
yielded a trove of peacock feathers. "This year, I wanted a rich,
exotic look that was warm and festive without being too
traditional. I love tradition, but I also love drama and a touch of fantasy."

- Mary McDonald

The exuberance of fresh greens, peacock feathers, and topiaries in the main entry.

A beautiful detail from the dining room.

Things are winding down here at the office - with most of my clients out of town for the holiday season. So there's going to be a good deal of time spent cleaning, organizing everything, and getting ready for the new year. 2010. whew. I can't wait.

tartanscot. in the office. with the windex.

15 December, 2009

"Meanwhile, Back in New York . . . "

Greetings and salutations,

Well everyone, it's almost here. As of the writing of this post, it's less than 10 days until Christmas. Eeeeeeek. And in an effort to procrastinate just a tiny bit more, I'm surfing around looking at holiday decorations. And, seriously, how MUCH do I love the wondrous apartment of interior designer Benjamin Bradley in New York from NY Social Diary. The man really seems to knows how to make me smile.

I just love the complete exuberance of the whole house. Each space so carefully considered. And each room so clearly dressed for the season.

The dining room all aglow with simple white light, fresh greenery, masses
of pine cones, and a perennial 'tartanscot' favourite - an amazing lantern.

"It's a childhood thing. I think people for the most part are in
pretty good moods during the holidays it at least a little more
willing to say 'Happy Holidays.' There's sort of a celebration
about the whole thing, or at least an over-the-top
abundance, which I find invigorating."

In a simple word, 'Yay.' Love the colour. Love the bedding. Love the portrait.
And that simple pine garland must fill the space with the most amazing scent.

And one can rarely go wrong when there's a glimmer of tartanware in the photo. I think it's MucDuff tartan - but, I'm willing to be wrong about that . . . lol.

I've been making a few changes here at the house to get ready for a small gathering on New Year's Eve. And I gotta get back to work . . . lol.

Adding a few more icicles to the tree,

Photography by Jeffrey Hirsch.

10 December, 2009

"A Place at the Table . . . "

Greetings and Salutations,

I know we all have our blog reading rituals - maybe it's on Sunday morning with a huge cup of coffee, maybe it's part of your late evening as you wind down for bed.

Well, last night I was actually reading blogs IN bed after a long day - and noticed that the new Skirted Round Table was available - and that the ladies (Megan, Joni, and Linda) were discussing a topic near and dear to my heart - holiday decorations.

Well, that's one of those got-to-hear-this-right-now kinda things. So - I started listening - and also reading a few other blogs while the ladies reviewed so many holiday postings from so many talented bloggers - then - what - I thought I heard my own name. Wait. What. Joni Webb said my name.

Well, gosh, I'm just pleased as punch to have the video tour of my home included in the latest discussion on the SRT. A profound thank you all for including me.


09 December, 2009

"It Only Takes a Spark . . . "

David Linley, House Beautiful 1993. Photographer, Christopher Simon Sykes

Greetings and Salutations,

I was chatting with my friends David and Barbara last evening - and we began to reminisce about those specific images that we could STILL recall seeing for the first time. And after a moment of practically foaming at the mouth - I began blathering on about the living room in the London flat of David Linley, from the early 90's. Of course, they were both looking at me like 'who?' 'when?' 'which room?' - and I leaned back in my chair and my mind swirled away into the past . . . . .

I love this room. It's from Linley's flat from back in his bachelor days (in 1993) when he was first making a name for himself in London and on the world stage for his intricate woodworking creations. Love the dark colour palette. Love the heavy velvet drapes. Love the dramatic artwork. And I love the description that Linley gives of his home -

"It's really a stage set, this whole flat," says Linley, a kinetic
figure in jeans and purple suede loafers. "The walls change
color quite frequently. The bedroom was blue a
month ago. Ideas are tried out here."
- House Beautiful, 1993

Okay. THAT sounds familiar. lol.

I'm curious - what was one of your 'touch stone' moments? When your creativity was sparked? One of those first images that said, "Good grief. I've been waiting for you to find me."


07 December, 2009

"Mrs. Madrigal, in the Living Room . . . "

Dining by Design - JR Studio, Joel Robare

Greetings all,

I had the great pleasure of attending the "Table Hop and Taste" for Dining by Design a few weeks back with my good friend Mark Newman - and one of our clear favourites of the evening was the delightfully clever work of Joel Robare of JR Studio inspired by Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City." Having worked on Dining by Design the last several years - I'm well aware of the strict limitations of the project. Firstly, one has a tiny space in which to host 10 people for dinner. And one has about a day and a half to get the entire project installed - and ready to be seen. No, wait. Those are really the ONLY limitations. Outside of that - it's amazing to see a festival of creative minds running wild with ideas.

I can still remember the first time I read Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City," when I moved here to San Francisco in the late 80's. It's practically required reading for all new residents. The story revolves around the lives of a small group of San Franciscans in the 1970's and both 'pokes fun' and 'illuminates' life in our fair city during that evocative time. I highly recommend it if you're looking for a good hearty read over the holidays.

Here's some great shots of Joel's table (photography by Stephanie Penn) along with Joel's thoughts about his table and its inspiration . . .

JR Studio's Dining by Design concept for Hartle Media's 7x7 and California Home + Design magazines blended San Francisco legend with a fusion of design styles to create its "High Victorian" vignette. Inspired by Armistead Maupin's classic 'Tales of the City.'

"We created a living room evoking the bohemian chic of Anna Madrigal, the book's main character. Furnishings and decor were a passionate mix of Victorian antiques, courtesy of Coup D'Etat, mixed with decor and color story influenced by the 1970's."

"To further accent the literary theme, a column of books was created by SF based installation artist Wendy Earl. Her book tower was created one piece at a time over the course of 14 hours."

"In lieu of flowers, tea cups from Jacqueline Cambata's Shangri-la collection were filled with "magic" mushrooms and a platter of rolled white chocolate joints filled with marijuana colored sponge cake were created as if they were placed by Anna herself. The "sweet smokes" were created by Cake Works and provided the perfect ending to the gala evening's dinner."

And here's the evening 'in action' with a great interview with Joel by Sarah Lynch of California Home+Design Magazine . . . .


04 December, 2009

"Please, come in . . . "

Greetings all,

Well, today is the day. For those of you have been requesting a peek inside the house, you now have a complete tour. The holidays always seem to be my favourite time of the year - and I love seeing the house in all of its holiday attire.

A special thanks to Bret at the Bussey Group, Nicolas Smith, and the San Francisco Concert Chorale for your unending assistance and talent.

Happy Holidays,

ps. The holiday concert from the SF Concert Chorale is this weekend on Dec. 5 - join us if you are in the area. There's information on the website. And to purchase our holiday cd - which includes the soundtrack - you can contact info@sfconcertchorale.org

02 December, 2009

"You're invited . . . "

Scot Meacham Wood Design, toiling madly.

Greetings all,

Many of you have been so sweet to inquire about my place - and its freshly acquired holiday attire. Well, you have only one more day to wait. Check back on Friday for a little something special that I've been working on for the past few weeks.

See you Friday,

01 December, 2009

"Stop . . . "

" . . . and remember."


The epidemic of AIDS and HIV infections continues to haunt our earth. Take a few moments to become better informed about the disease and the progress we're making towards a cure.

If you would like to, add the names of anyone that you would like to have remembered as a comment to this post.


28 November, 2009

"On Entertaining . . . "

Greetings all,

Well, I hope everyone has greatly enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday. And that the turkey was moist and delicious. And that the pumpkin pie was yummy. And that everyone gobbled up all of the stuffing. Because now, the serious entertaining season is upon us.

I usually host several parties here at the house over the holiday season . . . and thought I'd share some of my favourite ideas for the makings of a great party.

1. The plan. And this is where one almost always goes astray. The best idea is to keep it simple. One of the most important aspects of any successful party is a calm host - and overshooting your 'skill set' is a sure-fire path to disaster.

The one thing that I always think about - I truly want my guests to enjoy the experience of being in my home. I think one of the disadvantages of being an interior designer is that the bar is set kind of high when I'm entertaining . . . and although I love that challenge, I also keep my limitations in mind. Though I'm a good cook - I'm not a great one - so, I hire a caterer for most of my events. I'm fairly fastidious but, I always schedule the cleaning service for the day of (or the day before) a party. I also like to have a few 'staff' people on hand as well. Just someone to help answer the door. Or re-stock the bar. Or help with the food or the caterer. But - basically, an extra person or two will help free up my time to spend with my guests and to enjoy my own party.

2. The invitations. I love printed invitations. Stop. the end. I love the way they feel. The way they look. The ritual of hand-addressing envelopes.

3. The decorations. Now THIS is part of my 'skill-set.' I'm a big fan of the 'multiple.' If I'm going to use votive candles - I'm going to use 100's of them. If there's an arrangement of white roses on the table - I try to use several dozen roses. Several - like maybe 10 dozen. Last year, when I was *especially* crazy, I used almost a dozen Christmas trees in the house (this is used only as an example - it was lovely - but, it was tons of work!)

4. The menu. One of the annual events at the house is a large cocktail party for around 50 to 75 guests . . . and I love experimenting with the menu.

I often start by planning out a menu as if it were a more formal sit-down dinner - and then adapt everything so that can be passed as hors d' oeuvres . If the dinner was to start with a lobster bisque - I've used the same bisque, but passed on trays - in antique shot glasses - maybe with a little crustini balanced across the top. Maybe there's a miniature bread pudding. Or a tiny bit-sized shepherds pie. But, make sure you don't have too many items that require last-minute attention. A few things that need to be warmed . . . but the bulk of the menu should be room-temperature.

5. The prep. I'd much rather run around like a madman for the three days prior to a party - and spend the afternoon OF the party getting a manicure. I take an inventory of the bar a week in advance - fill in any voids - and get the whole thing set up at least three days in advance. I try to have all the decorations in place (other than the fresh flowers) at least a week before. And flower arrangements the morning before.

And there's nothing like a long, warm bath prior to your guest's arrival. I always keep in mind that I'll need to be at my most charming for several hours - and I need to be up to the task. Relaxed. Confident. Prepared.

6. The doorbell. I'm standing in my doorway. In my favourite shoes. With a big smile - and a fresh manicure. Greeting special friends. Putting coats in the hall closet. Great music streaming from the stereo. Appetizers in the oven.





ps. it's also great if one of your friends is a professional photographer. The images are from a small cocktail party at the house last year.
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