Amending the All Work and No Play mentality..

Dear Blog,

I know it has been a while since I’ve written, but I promise that I still care about you! I have been so busy these past few months, I never had the time to sit down and collect my thoughts. Contrary to my prior all-work-and-no-play lifestyle, I decided that massive amounts of hard work and designing schedules that consume all daylight hours do actually merit some time away, even if I don’t leave the comfort of the West Coast.

With that in mind, I have tried to schedule time to see family, get some fresh air, and try my hand at some new baking recipes (one of which I’ll share this weekend.)

Much love,

Victoria

PS- Here’s a glimpse of what I’ve been up to in my blogging absence..

April..

After my Fab.com sale ended, we took a couple of days up north to relax along the Sonoma County Coast, and spent some time at the Timber Cove Inn (with a room overlooking the cove and shoreline.) Foggy mornings mixed with patchy afternoon sun, delicious food, no television, and little to no cellphone reception made for a peaceful and rejuvenating escape.

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May…

The month of May brought with it an engagement, followed by a graduation ceremony for my fiance, in which I watched him speak to his graduating class as Valedictorian!…

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Antique edwardian ringAnother shot to show off the beautiful detailing (it’s an antique!)

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Towards the end of May, I also had the privilege of seeing some of my jewelry designs on TV! They were on the air in Salt Lake City for a Celebration Gifts segment on The Daily Dish.

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You can see my jewelry there in the center! (Heart lockets, constellation lockets, and constellation compasses, all available on my website http://www.victoriaallison.com.)

June…

Both May and June were so busy with gifts for graduates! Some of my most popular designs were the quote compasses:

Working Compass Necklace - Robert Frost Two Roads Diverge Poem - 4Working Compass Necklace with Vintage Map and Robert Frost Quote – The Road Not Taken (http://www.victoriaallison.com/Working-Compass-Necklace-Vintage-Map-Robert-Frost-p/lgcompass-map-rfrostquote.htm) Available with the quote shown, or a custom quote of your choice!

..as well as my constellation compasses, in the small size:

Custom Small Working Constellation Compass Small Working Compass Necklace with Personalized Zodiac Constellation (http://www.victoriaallison.com/Small-Brass-Zodiac-Constellation-Compass-Necklace-p/smallconstellationcompassbrass.htm)

But, keeping with the mindset of not living an all work and no play life, we decided to take a road trip down south for some family time. We visited my sister and her family in So. Cal, as well as my future brother-in-law and his wife in Las Vegas.

Cutie pie kids.. my oldest niece, and my nephew (youngest of 4!)

During our San Diego visit, we visited some friends, went to the San Diego Zoo, as well as the Old Town area for some fun. Our time in Vegas included a backstage tour of the Celine Dion production at The Colosseum (or maybe I should say “up stage”, as we saw where the crew production takes place!,) played a few slot machines (obligatory,) visited the Boot Barn (lots of cowboy hats and boots!,) and ended with the Bellagio fountains show via a fabulous view from the Louis Vuitton balcony.

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As for July.. well, the month is only half over! I have a recipe to post for you this weekend – cherry crumb bars! They were so delicious, I’ve been daydreaming about them for days since we finished eating them.

Hope you’re having a great summer!

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Oakland Rose Garden and a Special Giveaway

Having only lived in the bay area a few years, there’s still so much we haven’t discovered or visited yet. One of the “places to see” on my list was the Morcom Rose Garden in Oakland. Given that we have dry season here almost year round, I figured there were only a few months of the year when I could catch the roses in full bloom after the California rains have finally fallen.

I recently had the pleasure of visiting this beautiful garden last month with one of my nieces, and I am so glad we went! The garden was much larger than I had anticipated. Among the rows upon rows of gorgeous roses, each one different (and labeled!.. although I didn’t bring a notebook..) the garden also had a gigantic multi-tiered waterfall that cascaded down the hill.

We meandered through each pathway and took many pictures, of course! Here’s a few of my favorites.

See the resemblance?!

Well, that garden sure was inspiring, to say the least. Now onto the giveaway!

As part of my Etsy Christmas in July special (and because I just love flowers, which is obvious) I’m giving away a pair of my Petite White Clay Rose Earrings! Want to win them? Here’s how to enter:

Required: Leave a comment telling me what your favorite kind of flower is. No, it doesn’t have to be roses to qualify. 😉

Additional Entries: Up to two bonus entries can be earned by doing either of the following (Please leave a separate comment for each additional entry)..

A. Become a fan of Victoria Camp Designs on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/victoriacampdesigns. Leave a comment here to tell me you did! (Addendum 7/11: Already a FB fan? Gain this extra entry if a friend signs up! For privacy, just let me know their initials in your comment here so that I can verify on my page that they’ve joined. FYI, fan name lists do not show up publicly on the FB page!)

B. “Pin” one of my jewelry items onto Pinterest and comment with the link of your pin! Items can be pinned from my Etsy shop, Website, or this blog. You can pin as many items as you want, but please be aware that only one extra entry per person will qualify.

Entries will be accepted from 7/11/2012-7/22-2012 midnight PST. I will randomly select a winner using a number generator from random.org on 7/23/2012. Winner will be notified via email and announced on this entry. Good luck!

7/23/2012- Time’s up! Congratulations to winner number 11, Marj!

Patterson House Jewelry Inspiration

Last summer I visited the Ardenwood Historic Farm (and Patterson House, located on the property) in Fremont, CA. If you live in the bay area and haven’t been here yet, I recommend it! This place is pretty awesome. They have various gardens and animals (sheep, goats, etc.) as well as an on-site blacksmith. Throughout the year they hold various events and festivals, depending on the season. It’s a great place for kids, but I’m an adult (sans kids) and I had fun too.

 

The highlight for me was the gorgeous Victorian Patterson House, the focal point of the property. This home was built by George Patterson in the mid 1800s, and underwent various additions and renovations throughout the remainder of the century. Let me tell you – this place is GORGEOUS. They have a lot of the original furniture, which thankfully has stayed with the family, and the architecture of the building is just beautiful. Each room in the house has so many historical nooks and crannies, you could spend all day in there. I took a guided tour with a dear friend of mine, but to be honest, we ended up ‘lagging’ behind everyone else, because we couldn’t stop photographing everything we laid eyes on!

 

By the time we finished the house tour, I was inspired. I knew this house was going to be influential in my designs, especially for bridal. I already completed an entire Spring Bridal Collection based on this amazing Art Nouveau chandelier in one of the bedrooms:

 

Patterson House chandelier - by Victoria Camp

 

Stunning, isn’t it? It’s not only one of my favorite pieces from the home, but one of my favorite chandeliers of all time. Ever. Seriously.

 

Anyway, every time I look at the pictures from this home, I get inspired all over again. Here’s a few favorites that inspired some new pieces in my shop..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you see why I was inspired?

 

Here’s a couple of new designs I made based on my Patterson House guest bedroom inspiration..

 

 

White Rose White Pearls Bridal Necklace with Ribbon Tie - Victoria Camp Designs

White Rose White Pearls Bridal Necklace with Ribbon Tie (2) - Victoria Camp Designs

 http://www.etsy.com/listing/99495719/white-rose-and-white-pearl-ribbon

Peach Pink Rose White Pearls Locket Necklace - Victoria Camp Designs

 

Peach Pink Rose White Pearls Locket Necklace 2 - Victoria Camp Designs

http://www.etsy.com/listing/99494344/pink-rose-and-white-pearl-locket

That’s all for today. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

From Boston to San Francisco..

Have you left your heart in San Francisco? Or perhaps another city across the globe?

This morning I listed two new map locket necklaces – San Francisco and Boston – which got me thinking about my past California travels and the road I took to get here. I felt like sharing a little bit of my history with you, so here it is!

 

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San Francisco Map Heart Locket Necklace

Boston Map Large Locket Necklace

I think it’s safe to say I left my heart in San Francisco, and came back to recover it years later. As a young child growing up in New Hampshire, I’d been out to the California bay area a couple times to visit our grandmother in Santa Cruz and aunts/uncles around the bay. This was always a big adventure, as we had to travel over 3000 miles to get there! One of my favorite memories was the year my older sister and I flew to visit grandma by ourselves..  With multiple packs of bubble tape in tow, we kept ourselves amused on the long flight across the country. I still remember when we landed at the terminal, and saw Grandma come running to us with outstretched arms!

My big sister and I, visiting Santa Cruz in 1990. (Before our younger brother was born!)

Many years later, I visited California with my sweetheart, and my love for California continued to grow. We spent 10 days traveling from the north San Francisco bay all the way down to LA.

Here I am visiting the Embarcadero in San Francisco on our adventure… very windy, but very happy! (2004)

It’s impossible to not fall in love with California’s giant Redwood trees. (2004)

On our return flight home, I think we knew in our hearts we’d end up back here eventually…

 

.. and we did!

In February of 2008, we packed up our apartment in the suburbs of Boston, and began our true journey to California. We drove across the country with all of our belongings in tow, and officially became California residents. I still can’t believe we have lived here 4 years already. It has definitely been adventure, but those stories will have to be shared in future posts!

Your home may be in one place, but where is your heart?

Summer Strawberry Cake

Designing collections essentially means that you’re always thinking at least a full season ahead..usually 6 months or more! This happens so often, that I sometimes forget to live at least a little bit in the season we’re in right this moment.

Not wanting summer to completely pass me by without notice, I took advantage of the beautiful weather and went strawberry picking with my guy. I’ve been wanting to do this since May; needless to say, it was long overdue! We packed a lunch and headed west towards Highway 1, to Swanton Berry Farm in Pescadero – a cute little town along the California coast.  Swanton’s has two strawberry fields to choose from. One field is north of the farmstand, and overlooks the ocean. The second field is adjacent to the farmstand itself. We chose the field overlooking the Pacific. Wouldn’t you?

Sadly, I didn’t remember to bring my camera, but we did get a couple of pics on the cell phone.

 

These berries have a pretty amazing view, don’t you think?

Swanton Berry Farm northern field

 

Pretty little strawberry blossoms..

Strawberry flowers

 

We ended up coming home with 6 pounds of strawberries! Not wasting any time, this weekend I made a batch of strawberry jam, strawberry butter, and strawberry cake. We’ll be having strawberries on our salad today, and will freeze the remaining berries for using later on. (Maybe strawberry rhubarb jam?)

The strawberry cake:

Slice of Strawberry CakeTopped with a dusting of powdered sugar..

Strawberry CakeFull cake!

Strawberry Cake close upClose-up – Yum!

My only regret is that we did not have any vanilla ice cream, or whipped cream. Darn. This recipe was ideal, because it only makes one pan of cake – perfect for two people! (Or four, if you feel like sharing…) Here’s the recipe, courtesy of Martha Stewart’s website:

Strawberry Cake

Martha Stewart Living, June 2005

  • Yield Makes one 10-inch cake

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pie plate
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch pie plate. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl.
  2. Put butter and 1 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low; mix in egg, milk, and vanilla.
  3. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture. Transfer batter to buttered pie plate. Arrange strawberries on top of batter, cut sides down and as close together as possible. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.
  4. Bake cake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 1 hour. Let cool in pie plate on a wire rack. Cut into wedges. Cake can be stored at room temperature, loosely covered, up to 2 days.