Thursday, July 30, 2009


We've finally started working on the back of our home which is coming along nicely.
We still have the following left to do:
*decide on grass or more concrete on the remaining 270 square foot of dirt space
*landscape perimeter flower beds
*Replace old wood fence on the east side of yard
*Install accent up lighting along the flower beds,water fountain and the large Deodar Cedar tree.

My goal is to hopefully complete most of the list before the rainy season starts. However, I have to wait until my partner Dan has forgiven my last spending spree.

Following are the "Before" images taken after the family room add-on which demolished most of our back yard.

The rear exterior of our home. The 2 sets of french doors lead to the new family room completed in late 2007.

The double sided fireplace was an exciting feature added so that we can
enjoy the life like gas fire logs from the back when entertaining outdoors.

The windows above are to the new master bedroom and bathroom.

The next set of photos are the "After" images were taken a few days ago.

The awnings are from a local family business Janak & Scurfield Inc.
located in downtown Sacramento. I had them paint the fleur des lys spear tips gold to tie in with the other gold accented accessories.

The potted plant with the trellis behind it is a climbing Hydrangea from Capital Nursery. My original hope was for Bougainvillea(inspiration image left) which are one of my favorite climbing vines. Unfortunately, the wall faces north which doesn't get the amount of sun required for the vine to successfully flourish. In addition, our yard has an enormous mature Deodar Cedar tree that towers over not just our home the entire back yard, but 3 of our neighbors homes as well. making it difficult to grow anything that requires full sun. However, I was told that the climbing Hydrangea will do very well here. We'll see.

The wrought iron dinning chairs were a great find from the Bombay Company over 7 years ago. They were discontinued because of the poorly designed assembly fixtures causing the chairs to come apart easily. However, I had a welder actually weld the entire frame together making the chairs extremely solid. I painted the fleur des lys and medallions on the back of the chairs gold(yes, I'm dangerous with a can of gold paint).

The lattice window boxes above are by Sean Conway for Target stores.

The decorative stone sconce above the fireplace was a flea market find many years ago.

A close up of one of the window boxes. I added the gold medallion buttons which I purchased from Michaels and then of course, painted them gold for added interest. We currently have Geraniums in the boxes but will be replacing them someday with Japanese Box woods which I love for their all year round rich evergreen color.

This is a view of the remaining part of the yard that is still on the "to do" list. It's currently covered with interlocking rubber mats for baby Daniel to run around freely. He and his playdates enjoy it.

The dirt area measures 18' x 15'. This area was reserved for grass. However, the picture was taken when the area gets the most sun which isn't alot. So far, I haven't had success finding sod that will thrive in such a shaded area. Our gardener suggested artificial grass. It's eco-friendly and very low maintenance. The downside is the cost. Much more expensive than regular sod.

Another example of the extensive shade in the back. The both trellis were installed 8 years ago. At the same time we planted vines that only required partial sun. 8 years later, that is the most vines we have managed to grow.

And finally, the Deodar Cedar tree seen from the front of our home. It has been claimed as a Heritage tree which means even though we own the property that the tree is on, we cannot remove the tree without consent from both the city and our surrounding neighbors. The tree is beautiful and deserves protection. It's just such a pain to live under.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Coming August 2009 (U.S Nationwide Release)

If you haven't already heard about the upcoming movie, The September Issue, then its more likely because you simply are not fashion "obsessed". Scheduled for nationwide release on August 28, 2009, the documentary has already won numerous international awards including Sundance's 2009 Grand Jury Prize for excellence in cinematography.
Directed and produced by R.J. Cutler, The September Issue tells the story of legendary Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour and her larger-than-life team of editors creating the issue and ruling the world of fashion.

You may recall the 2006 movie, The Devil Wears Prada with Meryl Streep playing Miranda Priestly, the often "misunderstood" chief editor for Vogue Magazine. The film's character was widely believed to be based on Anna Wintour. This movie gave Streep her 14 Oscar bid as well as the Golden Globe award for best actress in a Comedy or Musical.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland

A couple of weeks ago, A Fanciful Twist featured their annual mad tea party for the online community. If you're not familiar with the event, click on the bicycle image to the right or here.
It is a spectacular visual feast created by a very talented artist named Vanessa Valencia in Arizona.

Scheduled for release in March 2010, is Walt Disney's latest remake of Lewis Carroll's 1865 classic childrens tale, The Adventures Of Alice In Wonderland. American film Director,Producer,writer and artist Tim Burton is the creator of Disney's Alice In Wonderland. I became a big fan of Burton's work after Nightmare before Christmas which has been one of my favorite movies that I love to play every Halloween night. It always seem to heighten my All Hallows mood before giving out the treats.

Australian native Mia Wasikowska will be playing the leading role as Alice with other well known talented stars such as Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen & Ann Hathaway as the White Queen. This is my first time hearing of her, however, I've read that she was a very good choice. We shall see.

Helena, who by the way, is also Burton's significant other, in my opinion will make the ideal Red Queen. She can portray a villainous character like no other.

I'm sure there was no question in Burton's mind when deciding the best person for the Mad Hatter. Johnny Depp was the perfect choice. I cannot wait to see him perform this role.

The media's speculation on the upcoming remake seem to be mixed with some critics already forewarning their readers that the film may not be suitable for children. Now, if you're familiar with Tim Burton's work, then its more likely you'll side with those critics.

However, there are other critics that say it pails in comparison to any of the Harry Potter trilogy. As a big lover of the Harry Potter movies, I'm not convinced that says much given the fact that I took my 5 and 7 year old neices to see the first Harry Potter release which was very frightening to them both.
The August edition of Vanity Fair predicts that Burton's talented paired with the "performance capture" technology and 3-D animation give them reasons to believe this film is destined to be of a rare breed: the auteur's blockbuster.

Anne Hathaway as the White Queen. I am also a big fan of Hathaway after her performance as Jack Twist's wife Lureen in the 2005 Oscar nominated film Brokeback Mountain. I thought the scene of her on the phone with Ennis (Heath Ledger) discussing her husband Jack's death was moving. Very little dialogue but her eyes spoke volumes of the emotions that overcame her when she learned about her husband's relationship to Ennis. She has not disappointed me since that role. See the trailer here.

Sacramento's Runaway Stage productions, a terrific local theater company, will also be performing the classic tale at the 24TH Street theatre on July 18,25 & August 1, 2009. For more information and tickets, visit Runaway Stage Productions.