joy of nesting

joy of nesting
Shiree Hanson Segerstrom Design and Wellness for Women with Arthritis and Other Chronic Pain.

RUSTIC pleasures OF FALL...and Shiree's Homemade Pesto

Cooler weather is slowing setting upon California and it turns my attention to all things fall. The colors, the produce, and the crispness in the air inspire me to cook and redecorate.  In Northern California we have distinct changes of season.  I envy Southern Californians their winters but I wouldn't trade with them our fall.

Dressed in fall colors this living room by designer Alessandra Branca is a year round pleasure.

The flowering quince on the patio above suggests spring but I imagine a lovely autumn lunch on a Saturday with a few family and friends. Melons and squash are at their peak in fall. But I'm partial to squandering the last of the summer tomatoes to peel, seed, and chop, and gently warm with basil and slivered garlic. It is great over kamut pasta. 

Tart olive green is my signature color. It reminds me of new, green growth in my garden. Olive green is a color that translates perfectly to every season. Spring, summer, fall, and winter.  It's wonderful with red and white! I have forgotten who did this lovely room but wanted to include it anyway.

Native Californians know to take advantage of the good weather now and we scramble to get outside as much as possible. Although that isn't to say we don't have mild winter weather too. Fall gardening is absolutely the best for many spring annuals. Surprised by this? The reason is the ground is still warm and it gives the baby plant a head start. Annuals planted in fall outperform those planted in spring.  This is particularly true for snaps, pansies, allysum, stock, lobelia, and the perennial opium poppy.  I like to start with six packs.

Above is another room by Alessandra Branca. She does such lovely rooms in warm color palettes. I believe the built out bookcase is something she repeats in her projects. The color scheme is reminiscent of pumpkin soup, beets, and chocolate...maybe not the tastiest combination but certainly beautiful to the eye.  In real life, that pumpkin wall is probably red. Light bulbs tend to change the colors in photography.

I am sorry I can't tell you who designed this room. The daring dark walls are balanced by the lightness of the sofa and area rug.  The late interior designer Mark Hampton was one of the first, if not the first to do this look.

This beautiful Italian street scene shows people shopping for flowers and veggies.  Fresh air markets are a mainstay in Europe. They are a great tradition. It is no wonder Americans seek to emulate them.

Thom Felicia's design work inspires getting outside and enjoying the last of summer's warmth. Love the arborvitae hedge, the zinc coffee table, and black wicker daybed!

Orange is the quintessential fall color...the color of pumpkins, maple leaves, and candy corn. The most wonderful family traditions happen in the fall. When Christian was little, Jim and I would take him to Vacaville to the great scarecrow contest and pumpkin festival at the Nut Tree. Or to Sonka's Apple Ranch in Tuolumne County to ride the train, pet the farm animals, and buy their homemade apple dumplings with cinnamon sauce.

Fall activities can include trips to your local farmer's market for apples and pumpkins. Pie and bread baking is a terrific fall tradition and it's so wonderful to share these with dinner or weekend guests. I also love to make basil pesto this time of year. Basil has to be harvested before the cold nights set in so now is the time if you have basil in your garden.

Autumn walks, Halloween, Thanksgiving, soups, stews, and fires in my fireplace. I am feeling that urge to begin my nesting season.

Shiree's Homemade Pesto with Pine Nuts

This recipe is best made in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, otherwise finely chop basil, walnuts, and garlic.

large bunch of basil, stems and seeds removed
(four cups leaves, tightly packed)
3 large cloves garlic
1/2 C. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C. chopped walnuts
1/4 C. best quality grated Parmesan cheese

Save pine nuts for tossing in at the last minute...about 1/8 C. whole pine nuts

Process basil, garlic, and walnuts in food processor until finely chopped. Dribble in olive oil while motor is running. Toss in pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. Store in glass mason jar in refrigerator for up to six weeks.

Serve over spaghetti or angels hair pasta.

VIKINGSHOLM, LAKE TAHOE...Plus Shiree's Grilled Vegetables

On a recent trip to Tahoe with David, we took an unplanned tour of Vikingsholm, the summer home originally belonging to longtime Santa Barbara resident Lora Josephine Knight.

Mrs. Knight was originally Lora Josephine Small of Galena, Illinois, the daughter of a corporate lawyer.  One of her marriages was to a partner in her father's law firm who passed away shortly after the marriage.  The other was to a stockbroker who she divorced. She built Vikingsholm after the divorce and spent most of her summers here.

People often assume Mrs. Knight's ancestry was of Scandinavian decent because of the design of the house, but actually her heritage was English.  She was best known for the landmark home but was also appreciated for her generous contributions to California and Nevada youth groups and churches.

The home was built by some 200 craftsmen.  It was completed in about six months. The timbers were hewn by hand, metal fixtures were hand forged, and many lovely hand carvings were done right on site.


Architectural features include a sod roof, a Scandinavian motif repeated throughout the house, and hanging dragon beams which have been carved and painted.  Mrs. Knight chose the furniture to carry out the theme, often having pieces reproduced from antique designs.

Summers at Vikingsholm under Mrs. Knight's ownership were tranquil and quiet, despite the many guests who would come to stay. Her hospitality was renowned. Days revolved around fine food prepared by her personal staff who traveled with her.  Tea was served every afternoon, either outside on the terrace or in the library.

The property on which Vikingsholm sits was purchased by Lora from a William H. Armstrong for $250,000. I find it interesting that she hired her nephew Lennart Palme to design it.  Mr. Palme was a Swedish architect and he accompanied Lora when she went to Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden in search of inspiration.

Taking a tour of the upstairs bedrooms, I could easily feel at home as a summer guest. It's not so grand as to be intimidating but rather, cozy and intimate.  I was reminded of my husband's childhood home which the children and we spouses affectionately called the Big House.  Truthfully, the Big House was larger and grander but without the spectacular surroundings. Alas, a treasured memory.


Shiree's Grilled Vegetables

Crookneck squash
Patty pan squash
Japanese eggplant
olive oil
fresh lemon juice
fresh thyme
sea salt and ground pepper

Slice all vegetables in half length wise, except patty pan which should be cut lengthwise in threes.  Have your husband (lol) get the grill heated up. Brush cut sides of veggies with lemon juice and olive oil and arrange on the grill cut side down. Grill about 10 minutes a side and sprinkle with freshly chopped thyme and sea salt and ground pepper.

Zucchini takes the longest and eggplant is the quickest to cook. Stagger cooking times accordingly.

Vikingsholm is located in Lake Tahoe, California. For directions and more information see .


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