Glitter, glitter and more glitter!

I am not stranger to glitter. Friends and family alike are familiar with the precious little twinkles coming from my neck, hair, cheeks, jeans, shoes, floor, closet, bed, laundry room, patio and fireplace-all as a result of indulging in the late November early December tradition of glittering the sh*& out of anything that wasn’t glued down.

Actually that last part is not too terribly true. I am discerning about what to glitter as you should be too. So, for a quick lesson on how to make a bow, any old bow look super duper great, I have created this cozy post for you. This project is something that can be done with the kids, is easy to store and re-use and if you are using metal or glass glitter, is completely non-toxic.

Here is what you will need to make ribbons and bows look super glittertastic. (Glittertastic? Yeah, I am gonna stay with it for a bit though I am not sure it has the weight of say “fanfu*^$ingtastic”)

Step one! Get your goodies. I have a gigantic collection of ribbon from Ribbons Unlimited in Pasadena. When I first walked in this store I gasped. Perfectly aligned shelves house zillions of ribbons, a whole section of satin solids of gorgeous colors and in about 14 sizes!!! So love this place.



Several plates (paper for throw away if you wish) for excess glitter
Good German Glass or metal flake glitter (don’t be shy to try Car Paint Companies)
Disposable paint brush
Bowl of lightly watered down Elmer’s glue
Cut your ribbon into a dove tail and with either painter’s tape or with your own hand, create the starting point of your glue about two or three inches above the center cut of the dove tail. Lightly glue but be sure to cover.

Then sprinkle the glitter onto the ribbon, completely covering the glued area. DO NOT PRESS DOWN. If you have to go over the glitter with the brush because of poor coverage, do not be shy. Though you may need another brush should you change glitter color.

Gently pull the ribbon off of the paper and hang from the side of your craft table (ha! like we all have craft tables, I use the dining room table or the mantle and weigh the ribbons down with a candle. Once I even used a potato. Hey, I was out of candles and had to make a ton of these things-later I had glorious mashed potatoes but that is for another post-I make very good mashed potatoes.)




There are a million and one ways to use theses ribbons. Often I will tie an old-fashioned bow and then glue these behind the knot in the center of the ribbon for a lot of added drama. These are also very nice to tuck into holiday trees with the glittery wonderfulness illuminated by the sting lights. If you use these as an elegant touch to your tree, you will need a good amount of yardage.

For the Ritz-Carlton Residences here in San Francisco, I used these sparingly on the mantle. The look is super chic in the space and a perfect match to the topiary I made. You can see how I used the ribbons at the top and bottom of the topiary for a super dramatic effect.


Remember, there are no rules other than to use non-toxic materials and to have a great time. What is so good about this ribbon is that the texture and body of the ribbon make it super easy to work with. Simply puddling them down the side of your tree will create a gorgeous shape. The ribbon is very forgiving.

Now here is the topiary I made. I will talk more about the topiary in another post. SUPER EASY! But look at the ribbons. They are connected to the topiary body by ends being poked into sections between the ornaments and cones with a bamboo shish kabob skewer.


Because the glue makes the ends of the ribbons stiff, you can really tweak and bend the tips for high drama!

Hope you have fun and should you have any specific questions, please feel free to write.

Black and White as Softness, Childlike and Clean

I had the pleasure of joining other lucky folks for an evening of beautiful art and conversation at  Cult Exhibitions.  Gallerist extrordinaire Aimee Friberg invited us all to hear some words by the delightful and terribly gifted Dumbacher twins, Joseph and John.  You really must go and see the show, as it is one of the more beautiful curated ones I have seen in a good while.


Additionally there were some insightful comments and observations made by Leonard Koren, author of Wabi Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers along with The Flower Shop:  Charm, Grace, Beauty and Tenderness in a Commercial Context among others notable publications.

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Limonata at Costco and an explosion of citrusy goodness

Ok, so I am a bit of a Diet Coke kind of guy.  Not always, but certainly with Chinese food from Mama Ji’s.   LOVE IT!  Though ever since I rediscovered San Pellegrino Italian soda products, namely Limonata, I have ditched what I know is a terribly bad liquid for the body and am comfortably enjoying these effervescent lovelies.

I was strolling through Costco, dodging busy little bees who are as good with a cart as they are with a car, and there they were, a 24 case of Limonata and Aranciata sodas.  They are delicious, great with roasted chicken, salads, or solo after a rough go with the clay soil in the garden, preparing beds for tons of forthcoming daffodil and tulip bulbs.  YES!!!


When I went to the flower mart, I noticed these delightful but slightly garish Anthuriums.  They reminded me of the taste of Limonata so for kicks I decided to go with it.  I took a single Anthurium and walked around the flower mart, looking for perfect companions for my weekly installation at the Ritz-Carlton.  After some time scanning the many offerings about the market, suddenly, at Vicky’s – my favorite forager/cartographer/philosopher/curmudgeon I spotted the most beautiful Pittosporum berries.  Because Anthuriums are large and imposing, I knew the companions had to be respectful and I did not want many.  Perhaps one more elements and so I went strolling to Torchio Growers.  And there they were, some beautiful high petal count Ecuadorian roses.  The match was perfect.


So I filled my cozy cart with these carbonated blooms and headed to the Ritz.

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Smokin’ Black Flowers for your Halloween Table!

I did think for a minute about starting this post by saying “OMG, these flowers are totally black and super duper perfect for Halloween”.  Well, I want you to know that everything I write to you is truthful so I will start this post with that standard intact.

OMG!!! These flowers are (almost) totally black!  You can head to the nursery or to the local florist or if you are lucky enough to live in SF, you can head to the SF Flower Mart to get your hands on black flowers.  So sexy, so sinister, so stupendous!

Here is an arrangement that is in real life a very dark purple but has come out a bit bloody (I have already sent a shout out to Tim Cook about the color of close-up photos on the iPhone)-still appropriate for our much loved celebration of the macabre.



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Puttin’ on the Ritz!

Okay, so not really puttin’ on the Ritz as in that fabulous number with Gene Wilder in “Young Frankenstein”, but rather creating something super duper for the VP of Global Marketing for the Ritz.  Pressure on, time to get creative with 3 hours notice!  (No problem.)

There is something SO FANTASTIC about being asked to go above and beyond (which is what I try to do with each and every client ttytt) and being able to find just the right elements for a very special arrangements in your garden.  I am telling you my friends, getting your hands dirty to plant flowering plants and then prettying up your life and the life of those you love with the flowers they produce is one of the most satisfying things in the world.  I think the only thing that compares, while playing in the dirt that is, is growing food that you eat with your friends.  (I am planning on growing root veggies!-  More later.)




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Chocolate in the garden!

Chocolate Cosmos!!!

These are fast becoming some of my favorite flowers.  Chocolate Cosoms! are the wildflower choice of many, ranging in color from Picote pink and white to these dark sexy chocolate numbers you see here.  I was one my way to see a friend, who graciously agreed to help with my computer.  (Ugh!  I love me a trip to the Apple store but when I have to sit and wait for help with a computer “bug”, suddenly the cuties behind the counter become a bit campus-ish if you know what I mean)

However, I left grateful for the help and promptly went to the garden to pick some of these lovelies for the adorable Grant and his super duper boyfriend Alex who installed some additional software on my computer as well as a delightful new screen saver.  I tied it with a delicate ribbon from my favorite store in the world and hit the road to meet with my adorbs friends, in their equally adorbs apartment.


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Apple Pride

Apple, on whose product I write, requested something simple and cute for a cozy little LGBT celebration at the super lovely Hotel Vitale here in San Francisco.  Well, what to do after the unbelievably bad rainbow fiasco on the streets of The Castro, and all the while not too terribly fond of lots of bright mixed colors in anything else but a fruit salad.  (The client requested color in a very LGBT kind of way – often a chubby RED FLAG for me, but whatevz, I am always up for a challenge and it is truly the goal of John James Designs to Redefine Enchantment and to dazzle clients every step of the way.DSC_0246

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Gift Wrapping, in the most major way!

It is no secret that John James loves a good gift wrap.


I wanted to give a very special thank you to a very special person, Kelly Burns at Hartman Studios and so I went to the super cute new Alchemy Spirits in Oakland to pick up a bottle of local whiskey.  What fabulously attractive, intelligent and sexy young woman doesn’t like a nice bottle of whiskey. Continue reading

Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon

I just finished a very beautiful and very large wedding in collaboration with the inimitable Kathleen Deery down in Carmel California. She reached out to me, and with her expert guidance and design, a truly extraordinarily marvelous event was born. Needless to say, after the beauty, the laughter and the hard work, we all needed a break (“A break from Carmel”, you ask. I know it’s a crazy thing to say). I decided to treat my designers to a quick trip to Portland Oregon, one of my favorite cities.

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Floral Crowns


There is something so wonderful about floral headdresses. The minute they are placed on your head, you immediately feel like a princess.

I was asked by the unbelievably talented Stephanie Bodnar of Evgenia Lingerie San Francisco to create custom floral headdresses for her Fall 2014 look book. Stephanie is one of only 5 designers to be invited to the Macy’s Fashion Incubator and the only lingerie designer ever invited!. The outrageously gifted Kelly Puleio took the shots, and together we created magic.

I used vibrant and rich colored garden roses from the San Francisco Flower Mart that were a perfect match to the floral silk pieces. The black and white rompers and knickers etc. were highlighted with chubby white flowers with accents of butterflies, a signature touch of John James Designs. Continue reading