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Wednesday
Sep172014

Renovation Update - Flooring! 

An integral feature of any home, flooring choices are limitless and crucial to the overall look of your home. From packed dirt to tumbled marble, its history is as extensive as the materials it can be made from. As you may know, my summer has been made all the more exciting (and exhausting!) by my home renovation.

 

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The use of more refined wood flooring didn't become standard until the early 19th century. Historically, many homes featured unfinished, rough-hewn planks with the intent of covering them with decorative rugs. Following the industrial revolution, new machinery resulted in the ability to cost effectively produce elaborate wood flooring options thus establishing their use throughout the home! 

Ari with AR Floor Designs had done such a great job helping me with my offices three years ago that I made a trip to his warehouse to check out their enormous collection of finished and unfinished wood! This is a sample that he had made for sweet architectural consultant, Sarah West to show the many reclaimed woods he had in stock for use in flooring. Wouldn’t it make such a cool inset in an entrance way?

Established in 2005, Ari and his team have become an invaluable resource for all things flooring! With so many beautiful options to consider, how could I ever choose?

I really loved their reclaimed wood with a European oil finish on them as well as the beautiful walnut samples! Although I am getting new floors in the front three rooms, the rooms adjacent have existing oak flooring throughout. I so loved all of your comments and suggestions about using stone in the entry and, though I was torn, decide to stick with all oak to keep the house feeling open and cohesive.

 

From the lumber yard to the showroom floor, a variety of wood species and stains are hand chosen, carefully milled, and expertly arranged to create the flooring custom to your home. It was so fun learning about the process! He also had a large selection of engineered floors, some made from reclaimed wood. Something I didn’t know was possible!

Ari also had a large selection of reclaimed beams to admire and just look at that fab antique red barn siding! What a statement piece it would be in the right setting. So it got us to talking…….

Remember this California home designed by my friend Ohara Davies- Gaetano featured in the summer issue of Veranda? I adore the concept of this ceiling. Seeing his wonderful supply of reclaimed planking, Ari agreed to select some for me and install it on my own dining room ceiling! Fingers crossed my little Segreto elves are up to the challenge of creating a design just as spectacular!!!

I had told the guys that I was quick and easy when creating the samples for my living room. I guess I underestimated how many options I’d have! Sweet Ari never seemed frustrated and custom mixed my vision of the perfect brown.

Now his guys were left to mix the same color for the wood floors in my living room. These floors connect to both the foyer and the kitchen as well as the den. I had been told prior that they were mesquite inlaid in oak. Yet, in their stripped form, it was easy to see that they were red and white oak, cut like bricks and framed within a red oak grid. These floors, probably installed in the home in the 1970’s, have always been my favorite!

With the den and kitchen finally complete, I was able to move all of the furniture back in just in time for John to come home from his California Dreaming vacation! Although waxed finishes are the rage now, I decided on a oil polyurethane finish in the main parts of the house for the sake of durability! My dogs really give the floors a beating! With this sealant all you need to do is clean as needed with Bonax wood floor cleaner!

In my master bedroom, the floors are pine and had been previously stained dark. I have to admit, I kind of loved the way they looked natural. Yet, when the sealant was applied they turned a bit too yellow for me.

To counter the gold tones a series of European oils were used which added a grey hue. This is the first of four washes that he applied. According to Ari, “We are using a lot (of European oils) to achieve gray colors, light creamy, or Earth tones yielding a natural look with low sheen”.  In terms of maintenance, the floors need only be mopped with the same brand of soap and, bonus, it is a green product!

 I just love the transition between the old stone floors in the hallway from Chateau Domingue to the white Carrera marble in the bathroom from Materials Marketing! The cleaners came yesterday to do the final clean on the bathroom! Yayyy!! We are getting close to moving back in!  Thank you, Ari, and all of your great guys that worked on my project! I love my floors!!!

I can not tell you how thrilled I am to share such exciting news!! My dear friend and fellow design blogger, Kristy Woodson Harvey of Design Chic, has just released her much anticipated novel, Dear Carolina!!! Such a talented story teller, Kristy writes of the defining moments and difficult decsisions that make a family.

One baby girl.

Two strong Southern women.

And the most difficult decision they’ll ever make.

 

Frances “Khaki” Mason has it all: a thriving interior design career, a loving husband and son, homes in North Carolina and Manhattan—everything except the second child she has always wanted. Jodi, her husband’s nineteen-year-old cousin, is fresh out of rehab, pregnant, and alone. Although the two women couldn’t seem more different, they forge a lifelong connection as Khaki reaches out to Jodi, encouraging her to have her baby. But as Jodi struggles to be the mother she knows her daughter deserves, she will ask Khaki the ultimate favor…

 

Written to baby Carolina, by both her birth mother and her adoptive one, this is a story that proves that life circumstances shape us but don’t define us—and that families aren’t born, they’re made…

 

“Kristy Woodson Harvey weaves a story around characters with rich, complicated lives we all identify with…beautifully shows how a family comes to be.  Not only by blood, but also by choice.” --New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas

 

And because we know you'd like to get your hands on it too, we're doing a giveaway! Not just any old giveaway, either - simply by sharing the cover of this book you will be entered to win a collection of 10 amazing, new novels from a bevy of talented authors! Participants simply need to share the Dear Carolina cover by clicking the contest link below.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Best of luck and I hope you enjoy Kristy Woodson Harvey's new novel,  Dear Carolina - I know I will!!! Please check out her blog Design Chic too for a real design treat!!! Until next week!

  

To pre-order our new design guide, Segreto Style, please contact books@segretofinishes.com !!!

To purchase "Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors" on our website click here or to purchase through Amazon click here.

To subscribe to the Segreto Blog click here.

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Sunday
Sep142014

California Dreaming!

As we wrap up another hot summer, I am happy to say that, despite so much going on recently - our home renovation and two new books on the way - I was able to sneak away and take a vacation!! 

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Each year we head to California to visit my husband’s family. This year was a special celebration wishing John’s Mom, Angie, a happy 86th Birthday! 

Here she is with her three boys and 5 of her 7 grandchildren. Sweet as she can be and such a tiny, little thing as seen by the picture of her and John’s brother, Bob!

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Our first stop was in beautiful Orange County to visit Bobby and his wife Heather’s new home! Fun fact – they live two streets away from Tamera of The Real Housewives of Orange County! After spending an afternoon watching a taped season of the show we decided that, unless she likes cat fights, maybe Heather shouldn’t besties with her new neighbor…

Here’s Sammy, ready to take the long, 144 step hike down to Laguna Beach!

You can’t be in Orange County without going to Fashion Island to shop! An outdoor mall in Newport Beach brimming with boutiques set right on the beach! We did a little damage at Halston Heritage with its 60% off sale. And thank goodness we didn’t get kicked out of Kate Spade when Kirby decided to try on the mannequin’s wig!!!

While at the Festival of Art in Laguna Beach, I really wanted to take my girls to Pageant of the Masters. I had seen it in my 20’s and thought it was simply amazing! 

It is world-renowned in the artistry and theatrical illusion of living pictures. Believe it or not, this is a real person sitting on a stage which, as the show progresses, becomes a life-size painting to the audience.

Even with binoculars the only way we could tell it wasn’t an actual painting is when one of the performers blinked! 

This ninety-minute stage show of “living pictures” re-creates well known classical and contemporary works with real people posing to look exactly like their counterparts in the original pieces. How is it done?

Exceptionally talented artists paint the backdrops for each piece while the actor has impeccable makeup, complete with the look of brush strokes, applied to make them blend into the canvas! 

Seamlessly, they morph into works of living art. It is a remarkable experience that I highly recommend seeing! 

Heather, my sweet sister-in-law, is an amazing cook and entertainer!  I wanted to share the recipe of one of my dishes she made during our visit!

Grilled Sweet-and-Spicy Shrimp with Mint Dipping Sauce courtesy of Epicurious

Ingredients:

Yields: 12 first-course or 6 main-course servings

¼ cup (packed) golden brown sugar

3/12 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons plus ½ cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

½ salt

2 lbs uncooked shrimp, peeled and de-veined. 

2 cups (packed) fresh mint leaves

Metal or wooden skewers. 

Mix brown sugar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons oil, lemon peel, cayenne pepper, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add shrimp and stir to coat. Let marinate 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. 

Meanwhile, place mint, remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, and remaining 1/2 cup oil in processor. Blend until mint is finely chopped and mixture is smooth, scraping down sides occasionally. Season mint dipping sauce with salt. 

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Thread shrimp onto skewers. Grill shrimp until just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Serve with mint dipping sauce. Yum!

Here are my two girls, Kirby and Sammy, with their cousins. The family resemblance is strong thanks to those Italian genes!!! Wish Matthew was there.

 

After our wonderful visit in Orange County we made our way to Hermosa Beach which is very close to where John grew up. Less than two miles long and nestled between Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach truly is, as their motto claims, “the best little beach city”!


We stay at the Beach House every year, which is great! It's a smaller Boutique Hotel with larger rooms which accommodates the four of us comfortably and is the only one right on the beach.

While in Hermosa we were sure to visit one of our favorite restaurants – The Bottle Inn. Always such a treat! 

Taking advantage of the perfect weather, we spent a day at the ball park cheering on the Dodgers! John and Bob are ‘true blue’ LA fans!  John is staying longer to visit his friends and relatives. I am going to try to at least get the kitchen, breakfast, and TV room moved in before he returns!  Hope I make it! 

And........

We wanted to share a glimpse of Gala Interiors and Antiques in Jackson, Mississippi! We are thrilled that she is now carrying my first book, Segreto:Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors. Specializing in beautiful antiques and unique gifts, Gala Interiors is chock full of lovely finds!  

If you live in the Jackson area you should take a moment to drop by to see their beautiful showroom located within Antique Shops of Jackson and explore the special treasures hand curated by owner Darnell Dye!

And we are so excited to share that after October 1st she will be carrying our second book, Segreto Style in her beautiful shop!!!

Until next week!

Vacay sale at the boutique!

 

Cobalt Blue Coral on Lucite Base - $175.00  Sale $125

The Royal Standard Teal & Gold Juco Tote - $39.50  Sale $25

Brics White Nylon Duffle with a cross body included - $169  Sale $80

Orange and Pink Canvas & Terry Cloth Beach Tote - $149.00 These are awesome!  Have waterproof insides!! Sale $75

Fouta reversible super soft towels in Fuschia, Light Blue, & Orange - $79.00  Sale $48

Aqua marine and Amber  20" Necklace - $359.00  Sale $250 each

Turquoise, Hand-Blown Glass Bowls - Small $34.50   Sale $22  / Large $49.50  Sale $30

Be You Fashion; Fair Trade Totes Made in Madagascar - $95 Sale $40.00ea

(Left: Hot pink & natural, Center: Black & natural giraffe print, Right: Toffee & natural)

Have a wonderful week!  Till next Monday!

To inquire about these items email Jessica@segretofinishes.com
To purchase "Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors" on our website click here or to purchase through Amazon click here.

To subscribe to the Segreto Blog click here.

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Sunday
Sep072014

Lavender

The color lavender has long been lauded for its graceful connotations and decidedly feminine undertones. Unlike its bubbly cousin, pink, lavender carries with it an air of quiet confidence and subtle playfulness. Perhaps due to its noble roots within the purple family, the color has a well-established history of nobility and piety.

(Chanel Evening Coat)

Dating as far back as 27 BC and the start of the Roman Empire, shades of purple have long been reserved for magistrates, members of the royal family, and Roman Catholic Bishops throughout Europe. Perhaps it’s for this reason that lavender, the result of mixing white and violet paint, carries with it such a distinct sense of refinement…

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Originally, the use of the term lavender only applied to its fragrant namesake. Not until 1705 was lavender used to describe the color; broken into three major shades as seen on the various parts of the flower itself.

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From left to right: Lavender grey, lavender, and lavender blue

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As a result of its red and blue heritage, lavender can transcend from warm to cool depending upon its surroundings. As seen above, the surprising pop of color on this old wooden door reads cool thanks to the grey masonry walls in which it is set.                                  

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Even when paired with strong golden tones, the red hues inherent to lavender help ease the tension between other warm and cool elements in the room. A neutral observer, lavender stands apart and serves to bridge the gap between color families; a very valuable member of any color scheme!

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This dreamy vanity and dressing room draws heavily upon lavender’s strong sense of femininity and grace. Reflective surfaces, from the high sheen on the tile floor to the mirrored dressing wall, compound the effect of this airy color and results in a boudoir sumptuous enough for a queen.

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Used as an accent color against a palette of soft whites, creams, and champagnes, shades of dark and light lavender serve to modernize this vintage style sitting room heavy with neoclassical and baroque details. Very impressive!

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Taking a page from any fashionista’s repertoire, color blocking, shown here by mixing shades of lavender, crimson, and violet, results in a look both clean and bold! Like any good accessory, the gold metallic accents break up any monotony that may have been caused by the lack of patterned textiles or art. 

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A feast for the senses!  On the tabletop, bundled sprigs of fresh lavender add a hint of color and soft aroma to this otherwise blank tablescape. The look is effortless and whimsical, perfect for any gathering!

Not many scents equal the distinct, fresh aroma that lavender cleaning products infuse into the home. Known for their use of herbs, essential oils, and organic flora, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day cleaning supplies have become a staple in my own utility closet! Their dedication to chemical-free, natural ingredients have yielded one of my favorite laundry detergents that is as gentle on fabrics as it is on the skin it touches. Aroma therapy while doing a load of laundry? Yes, please!

 

The use of lavender in the home doesn’t have to be limited to its use in design or scenting the room. Instead, try creating an aromatic cocktail accented with sprigs of fresh blooms that guests will see, taste, and smell – a full sensory experience!

Courtesy of Couture Craft Blog, try making this Lavender Collins for a fresh and colorful twist on a classic cocktail!  

Need:

1 1/2 oz Jensens Bermondsey Gin
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz lavender syrup ( method below)
3 oz club soda

Sprig of lavender for garnish

To make the lavender syrup:

1 cup water
3 tbsp fresh or dried lavender flowers
2 cups sugar

Method:

Firstly to make the lavender syrup, bring water and lavender to the boil in a saucepan, using a wooden spoon stir in sugar until it is completely dissolved Reduce heat and simmer for 5 mins. Remove from the heat and allow to cool with the lavender, once cooled strain flowers away. This will store for 1 week in the fridge.

To make the Lavender Collins, transfer all ingredients except club soda into a cocktail shaker and mix. Pour into a long glass full of ice. Top up with the club soda and a sprig of lavender to decorate.

Until next week!

Its a Lavender Sale!!!!      

 

Large Amethyst Geode on Lucite Base: $816.00  Sale price $425 

Jolie USA Knotty Hair Ties (10): $ 25.00   Sale price $18.50

Benton Art & Design Tea Towels: $34.50 ea  Sale price $24.50

                 Lollia Hand Cream in Lavender & Honey: $ 30.00 Sale price $20

Linneas Lights Hand Poured Soy Candle in Lavender: $32.00 Sale price $25

To inquire about these items email Jessica@segretofinishes.com

To purchase "Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors" on our website click here or to purchase through Amazon click here.

To subscribe to the Segreto Blog click here.

 

Sunday
Aug312014

Staircase Renovation & Boutique Labor Day Sale!

You always hear that working for someone in the design business on their own home is the hardest. I’m sure the team on my project feels the same way since I am constantly changing my mind! The day we moved the girls back upstairs I decided to proceed with redoing the staircase. Since it is the only access to their bedrooms and baths, the girls are sleeping in John’s office while John and I are still camping out in the media room.  

 

As you can see, my staircase literally originated 3 feet from the front door, beginning narrow and widening at the top. I have had numerous architects look at the project during other renovations, but due to the narrowness of the space combined with its steep slope, none could come up with a solution which appealed to me.

Ken, Will, and Gina of Newberry, Campa Architects gracefully solved the problem! 

Bless Steve, Henry, and the wonderful crew at Goodchild Builders who thought they were almost done!!! Goodness, it looked so much better with just the railings gone! Having the whole staircase removed made such a huge difference!

When they first started building the stairs, I was a bit confused as to how it would work. The back right and left walls used to end the same at the top of the stairs. By removing an upstairs closet located on the right side of the hall (say goodbye to storage!) they were able to create a landing to walk down from. Initially, I was worried that it might look odd for the left wall to go back farther than the right one...

But it didn't look off-balance at all! Not only was a landing created but the hallway upstairs also looks much larger!!! There is Sammy, sad she can't get to her room.  

In the new design the staircase shared the music room's wall, blocking majority of the entrance. Ken's plan widened the entryway into the music room and dining room, solving that problem and giving me a much more open feel which I love!!! As is the nature of renovations, one thing leads to another which leads to so many different decisions. Help!?

This is the view looking from the living room through the entryway. Look at the big hole where the staircase used to be! Yikes - new floors! Decision 1: Wood or stone? If wood, what type? What pattern? If plank, how wide?

                  The cased openings in the living room and dining room previously had more substantial trim which interrupted the crown moldings in the rooms. When removed, an 8 foot gap in the crown was created. Not able to patch it, the crown in both rooms needed to be removed. Goodbye worn gold finish! Decision 2: Do I put crown back up or have the cleaner look of no crown? If crown, what style?

 

I have always loved the way Joyce, owner of Joyce Horn Antiques, accessorized this vignette by placing antique French crown in the olive jar, so I asked the Goodchild gang to save mine. Not sure 1960's American molding I have will be as pretty but I'll give it a try!

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Decision 3:  What type of railing do I want? Having decided on wrought iron, there are so many choices and so many beautiful staircases to choose from!

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Should the banister be wood or wrought iron?

 

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Decision 4: Do I want the sides of the steps to show as seen in the picture above......

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..... or do I want a runner of wood or plaster on the side with the step inset like this staircase?

  

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Would stained wooden treads look best?

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Or stained treads and painted risers?

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This one is pretty incredible -- plaster stairs!!! My dilemma - I love them all!!!  Thoughts, my friends; what do you think?

I saw this picture in Veranda and loved how it was very open and simple with such a graceful air. I sent the picture to Bill Pena of Alba Custom Iron to make a sample. We also decided to refinish our existing floors so all of the furniture is currently out of the house. Unfortunately, this now means no access to the kitchen, den, or breakfast area confining us all to an even smaller space.  Lucky for Sammy, she just left for school! I would love all of your comments and suggestions on which direction I should go in the choices I have to make.  I hope you have a great week!  xo.                       

 Labor Day Sale at the Boutique! One week only. All sale items final sales

Lollia Luminaries: Wish, At Last adn In Love $38.00 - Sale price $25.00  

 

Kitchen Papers Assorted Placemats: $30.00 - Sale price $ 19.25

Austrian Crystal Crosses on Cut Crystal Pedestal: $75 each Sale price $ 48.50

Good Works Make a Difference Leather Wrap Bracelets: $26.75 - Sale price $ 19.25 each

I can do all things through Christ who strenthens me....

For I know the plans I have for you declairs the Lord....

Because you believed, it has happened....

(left) Black & Bronze Leather Handbag: $79.00 - Sale price $ 48.50   

(right) Brown Suede Handbag: $159 - Sale price $ 115

 Bracelet: $150 & 135 - Sale price $ 89

 Tuquoise, Druzzy and Vintage Gold Medallion Pendant Necklace: $450.00 - Sale price $ 325

  Fresh Water Pearl  and Champagne Diamond Pendant Necklace: $665 - Sale price $ 450

Immaculate Conception Medallion and laberadite necklace: $425.00 - Sale price $ 300

Onyx Bead and Gold Plated Amber Stone Necklace: $325 - Sale price $ 250

To inquire about these items email Jessica@segretofinishes.com 

or vist us at 1414 Antoine.

 

To purchase "Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors" on our website click here or to purchase through Amazon click here.

To subscribe to the Segreto Blog click here.

 

 

Sunday
Aug242014

Organic Home Gardens!!!

With the healthy eating craze focusing on organic and fresh I am loving the idea of incorporating a small organic garden into my new landscape plans.

 

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When I was little my father thought it would be a fun activity to have a garden.  Plowing an acre, my brother, Mom and I were left to hoe, weed, and pick. I began to not think gardening was not so fun.  After 40 years, I am ready to give it a try again. Searching the Pinterest sphere, I found so many ideas which would if scaled back, be manageable and beautifully work into my yards new look.      

This stunning outdoor garden has a beautiful combination of vegetables and flowers and is featured on the cover of  photographer George LeVeque's book French Garden Style, available for purchase here!)          

 

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How pretty is this herb garden combined with stepping stones?

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Planting vegetables inside boxwood patterns and mixing them with flowers really creates an artful impact!  

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This beautiful garden has some wonderful elements which could be used on a smaller scale like mixing dark and light wood tones, using metal arbors, or creating planter boxes from basket weave.   

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Foregoing traditional boxes and planting within the limits of existing pathways allows you to get creative without too much commitment!  

This herb and vegetable garden designed by Statile and Todd Landscape Contractors is lovely!  

Here is a garden at one of my client's houses. I love the gravel around it and stone surrounds!  So French!

A full producing garden, it also adds so much to their exquisite landscaping!

Here is another client's home who is just beginning her raised garden.  By raising the beds it is easier to get the proper irrigation.

Here is the same client's charming rose garden in its beginning phases.  When complete it will feature a French fountain.

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If you want something with little maintenance this kitchen counter herb garden is beyond adorable.  What a great gift this would make!

      

Need a bit of inspiration before you begin? Check out these Garden Box Layout Ideas published by Better Homes and Gardens !  One of my besties son’s, Matthew, and his friend Jacob started an agricultural development company in Houston called Old School Produce. Drawing upon their shared passion for organic eating and Jacob's degree in biological science, they now sell fresh vegetables at a farmers market, provide organic, exotic produce to restaurants, and help people set up their own organic gardens! He and Jacob were the perfect ones for me find out a bit more info.  

I was most interested in the rare and unusual varieties of plants which they grow. Right now the ghost pepper is their favorite; a real pure heat to kick up anything without adding a pepper taste. The scorpion and purple cayenne pepper they produce may be too hot for your liking.  If so, let them sit in a jar of olive oil or apple cider vinegar then remove the seeds. Wonderful flavor without the burn

They grow their produce to sell out of their trademark hydro planter - an automated raised garden that utilizes water in a closed loop to minimize water loss. Mixing this with innovative composting methods, they are able to grow almost anything all year-round.  

This would be a wonderful sized garden to start with and pretty on the patio, especially with the right finish on the wood. If you are in Houston, visit Matt and Jacob at their Old School Produce booth every Sat from 9-1 at the Farm Stand at Petrol Station or you can visit their website by clicking here 

Source  If you don’t want to grow your veggies but want home grown and organic, check out Farmhouse Delivery!  I had a client tell me about them and I am now getting fresh, locally grown, organic produce and dairy delivered to my home once a week. I have found that it is no more expensive than the grocery and it saves me a trip to the store! I know they deliver to Austin and Houston, but to see if they are available in your area check out their website. My favorite purchases were the vegetables, eggs, and milk.  I hope everyone has a great week!  Next week- a house update-promise.  We are now living in two rooms—so fun!!!  Xo  Leslie  

 

What's on sale at the Shop! 

 Aidan Gray Croix Framed Mirror: $650.00 - Sale price $500

Ice Milk Aprons: Adult $75.00 & Children’s $34.95 - Sale price $46 and $25                   

     

Aden & Anais Swaddle Blanket Gift Pack: $45.00 - Sale price $35

    

 Jolie USA Jeweled Headbands: $22.00 - Sale price $12 

  

Geode on Lucite Base: $385.00 - Sale price $295

To inquire about these items email Jessica@segretofinishes.com

To purchase "Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors" on our website click here or to purchase through Amazon click here.

To subscribe to the Segreto Blog click here.