By Christoph

Pia's butler chair

The Butler Chair

Who doesn't have the perpetual disarray of clothes in the bedroom, not going into the closet for some reason, but not into the hamper for another? So these clothes are in temporary limbo, and there's never a good place for them. In our master bedroom, a perfectly good chair and a perfectly usable chandelier serve as holders for those clothing items. Not anymore for Pia, for the Butler Chair was built for the purpose. It has a clothes hanger back with a second piece above and can take care of those stray clothing items elegantly. The seat is a bit lower, so you can comfortably reach your feet while putting on socks and shoes, and when seated you can effortlessly slip into the jacket hanging from the clothes hanger back. Simply genius! And then there's the secret compartment under the seat. Pia is in love!

Apples in a tree at Calico Ranch, Wynola

Today we drove up to Wynola, a small cluster of shops and homes just below Julian, to pick apples and pears. Calico Ranch has their orchard right off Hwy 78 and allows people to pick their own fruit. If it weren't for the scenery on the drive, and the absolutely brilliant, warm weather, we could have imagined to be back home in Switzerland, where we have picked plenty of apples and pears in our youth. Here in San Diego, as city folk in a subtropical climate we don't get to do this anymore.

Granola mix in blue dish

A variation of a delicious granola Pia found in a magazine years ago, which in turn is based on the traditional way granola is made on the island of Nantucket.

The art shelf, mounted high on the wall

This is an idea we had for a very long time, but never got around to actually build. Then we saw this version by Erin Loechner and everything came together. Her idea to mount the shelf up high, and installing the brackets on top of the shelf seal the deal. Genius!

The finished coffee table in use - note the colored streaks in the canary wood

Pia and I had spotted canary wood at Cut & Dried Hardwood (now sadly gone) a few years back, fell in love with its crazy colored stripes, and wanted to create a furniture piece with it. However, for lack of time and energy nothing ever happened. Then, two months ago, our need for another small table became urgent, and the plans finally coalesced.

The lovely texture and red-brown color of our rooibos chai mix

This is a caffeine-free chai version, based on the Chai recipe Sarah posted last year - which in turn is a recipe she inherited from Pia, so we're going full circle here. We used to buy a rooibos chai mix at a local Indian supermarket, but this version is much better (if I say so myself), and will definitely become a staple on our tea shelf.

Roll the gingerbread dough into thin sheets and bake it well. Let cool.
Add lemon juice slowly to the powdered sugar and mix until you have a thick paste - this will be your "glue".
Cut gingerbread into shapes to make walls, roof halves and other parts of your house. Be creative here, but remember that intricate designs will be really hard to put together, and much harder to keep together.