May 4, 2016

What’s Up This Weekend

A lot of my Baltimore area readers chide me for posting after events because they’re interested in taking part. So in the interest of helping you pre-plan your weekend, I thought I’d share some things happening this first weekend of May. And by-the-way, it’s the busiest weekend of the year. Everyone plans something for this weekend.

First up is the annual Ladew Garden Festival, HHladew2016xwhich is always the very best place to buy rare and unusual local plants. image

This year’s Garden Festival features amazing plants, garden accessories, antiques, and more. imageIn addition, your admission gets you into the fabulous topiary gardens, as well as the other gardens which are in full bloom right now! For more information and tickets, please click HERE.

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Another annual spring event is the hilarious and truly insane Kinetic Sculpture Race. Each sculpture must be people and pedal powered and be able to float on the harbour, imagepower through a mud flatimage and drive the streets of Baltimore. image

The Kinetic Sculpture Race begins at the American Visionary Arts Museum and travels around downtown Baltimore. If you’ve never been, it’s quite a spectacle!

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Baltimore’s gorgeous Mount Vernon Place is the site of the 105th FlowerMart, a tradition since 1911. Things are a little more low key now, image

but there are always plenty of flowers, vendors, huge hats, and traditional Baltimore lemon sticks.image

For more information, please click HERE.

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Finally, and this isn’t really an “event”, but friends are holding their occasional sale, called The Yard Sale. It takes place on Sunday and Monday, beginning at 9:00 a.m. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek yesterday and snapped a few pictures. Click the Yard Sale link above for details.the yard sale (5)the yard sale (12)the yard sale (18)the yard sale (28)

I hope to see you over the weekend! It’s gonna be a good one!

May 2, 2016

Off to the Races!

Saturday was the 120th running of the Maryland Hunt Cup, and although the day was overcast, it wasn’t chilly and it didn’t rain, so it was all good!

A group of us had each been assigned or chosen something to bring for the picnic lunch, and we all met up to drive out to the race course together. My contribution again this year was pimento cheese. I might have put a tiny bit of extra Tabasco in it, but every speck of it disappeared. hunt cup 2016 (6)We also had fried chicken, quoina salad, potato salad, cheeses and pâté, fresh asparagus, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and of course, cocktails!hunt cup 2016 (21)

One of the best things about this picnic was the gorgeous Martha-worthy arrangement of brownies and lemon bars!hunt cup 2016 (1)

In the background, you can see the collection of tin plates. They are so much more elegant than paper plates and are perfect for occasions like this. I wrote about them here. I have a pretty good collection of mixed patterns, including a few I picked up in England, but my friend has more, and they all match.

As usual, there was a spectacular arrangement of flowers. This spring has been very cool, so there was not the usual variety of blossoms and blooms, but it was amazing, nevertheless. Their creator is no less spectacular!hunt cup 2016 (62)

Our friend Sam, who painted Connor a few years ago, decided to paint our table and flowers, rather than hang out at the staring line. People stopped by all afternoon to see what he was painting. It’s not quite finished yet, so you’ll have to wait for the unveiling.

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Just before post time, we headed over to the course to watch the 120th running of the Maryland Hunt Cup. hunt cup 2016 (27)hunt cup 2016 (29)hunt cup 2016 (31)

The course is over four miles long, and they make a few loops around parts of it, coming close to where we were and then riding further out into the property.

Senior Senator won by a nose, after leading for most of the race. It was very exciting. hunt cup 2016 (33)

Afterwards, we headed over to the barns to see the winners, and the runners up. hunt cup 2016 (51)hunt cup 2016 (54)hunt cup 2016 (56)hunt cup 2016 (58)All looked in great shape, and everyone had a great day. Another Hunt Cup in the books!

April 28, 2016

All-American House 2016

One of the projects I’ve been working on is the All American House 2016. The organization promotes American made furniture, crafts, textiles and food. The national chair of this year’s event is Alexa Hampton, who, if you don’t know her, is a lot of fun. Each participating company is all American, reflecting the organization’s purpose of revitalizing and sustaining the competitiveness of American commerce and industry in a global economy.

The VIP opening was so much fun, and I thought I’d show you some of the transormations in this house. You can see some of the before pictures here.

The front hall with its spectacular staircase.IMG_0280

The family roomIMG_0282IMG_0284

The dining roomIMG_0288IMG_0289IMG_0294

The living roomIMG_0296

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The upstairs hallIMG_0310

The All American House is open until July, 2016. It’s going to be great!

April 26, 2016

The Regalia of the Races

The last Saturday in April is almost like Christmas to us. It’s the running of the annual Maryland Hunt Cup, often referred to as the most difficult timber race in the world. In fact, the winner of the Hunt Cup is automatically invited to race in England’s Grand National steeplechase the following year (it’s held in early April).image

Much of the planning for spectators at the Hunt Cup is predicated on the weather forecast. If it’s warm and sunny, then shirts and ties, and sundresses and sandals prevail. If it’s cool and overcast, you will see lots of tweeds, cords, Barbour jackets and wellie boots. Regardless of the weather, you will be marked as a rank amateur if you’re wearing high heels, ladies! image

We could take a lesson from some of the race-goers in England with their tweeds and hats. When you see pictures of past Hunt Cups, everyone’s dressed in tweeds, jackets and ties and skirts, including the grooms. This gal in her mustard skirt and jacket and purple tights, and the gents in their tweeds look perfect. Check out my Pinterest board called “What to Wear to the Races… Or Not”. imageOne of the highlights of the day, other than the race, is the pre-race tailgating. Competition for the prettiest and most extravagant picnic is fierce. But we figure that our table has an edge that no one else’s does: We use a retired Hunt Cup Trophy for our floral centerpiece!

J. Fred Colwill won the Hunt Cup three times, in 1938, 1939 and 1940, on Blockade, and after the third win, the trophy was retired and a new one was struck. All of these years later, it is back at the Hunt Cup, but this time holding gorgeous flowers from the garden. imageOf course, the food and drink for the picnic is equally important. Luckily, it’s been cool the past few years, so there’s not much danger of things spoiling. We always have fried chicken, and have found that the Royal Farm Stores (RoFo) has very good chicken. You can order it ahead of time for the race.

People are going to pick at the food all afternoon, so finger foods are best. Chips and dips, cheese and crackers, pretzels and goldfish are all good. If you bring a salad, like we did, wait and let everyone dress their own plate, otherwise, it will get soggy. Asparagus wrapped in prosciutto is an elegant finger-friendly dish.imageWhat you want to avoid is people balancing their plates and using knives and forks, all while standing and trying to look chic. Add a napkin and a drink to that and you have a recipe for disaster.

We always like to have some sweets, and bite size brownies are always good. You can add chocolate chips or After Eight mints, or even swirl some raspberry jam through the brownie batter, to up your game on these traditional favorites. It’s fun to also have some fruit, like strawberries or grapes.imageNow, the critical element: the drinks. We always have Southsides. We have always used the late Mr. Lee’s Mix if it’s available, or home-made if it’s not. As an FYI, if you’re trying to reverse-engineer Mr. Lee’s mix, and think that there’s one critical element missing, you are right. Try grating the smallest bit of ginger into the mix and see what happens!

We aren’t big fans of serving our drinks in Ball jars, instead, we use old silver julep cups. But all the pictures of drinks in julep cups were… juleps!imageHave some soft drinks and plenty of bottled water in a cooler, especially if it’s warm out. You don’t want to be responsible for over-serving your guests. That’s being a bad host.

Be sure to stop by and see our friend Sam Robinson (the man who painted Connor’s picture) who will have his paints and easel set up near the finish line. imageSam’s a plein-air painter, and will be painting sketches of the day. It’s fun to watch him work and see how he interprets the scene before him.

See you at the race!

Reprinted from Baltimore Fishbowl, April 25, 2015

April 20, 2016

Bizzy Busy Bee!

What is it about this time of year that makes it super busy? I have several major projects going on all at the same time. 

As you might remember, my friend Andrea and I are decorating a tent for the Circus Ball at Evergreen house next month. We’ve been busy gathering little circus animals to decorate. This is Andrea’s handiwork, glittered, flowered and feathered within an inch of their lives. image

Meanwhile, I am applying my mad spraypainting skillz and making sure all of the little animals are sufficiently painted. I am doing all of the sewing for the tables. In addition to the pennants (which I’ve had several requests to borrow and buy), I am making the tablecloths and decorating the chairs.

The other big project is called the All American House. This year’s house is at the Carroll Museums in Baltimore where I serve on the board. You can read about it here. This early 1800’s mansion was formerly a house museum, but is now being re-invisioned as an event space. imageWorking with the All American House group, and national chair, Alexa Hampton, local decorators, students, furniture makers, etc. are renovating the house to reflect its All American heritage. Each company is all American, reflecting the organization’s purpose of revitalizing and sustaining the competitiveness of American commerce and industry in a global economy. The debut of this project is May 1, and it’s been all hands on deck with everyone. In fact, on Saturday, I spent the afternoon painting a small bathroom, the largest dimension of which was its height!

And then there’s work! My actual job. I just got the funding to digitize our pre-1900 journals, which is going to be great. But before I can take them to the national scanning center, there’s a lot of work to be done. image

I frequently find things like this in the books that I am searching, and I wonder what the circumstance was that lead to someone placing petals in a 1700’s dictionary of chemistry.

I hope you’re  keeping busy, too! Look for images of all of the events in future posts.

April 13, 2016

More UK Trip Pix

All in all, I took more than 700 pictures on my trip, all using my trusty little iPhone 6. Last trip, I took my digital camera and found that I used it only once! Most of the pictures are pretty decent straight out of the camera but others need a little editing to balance the light and the dark, or to make them pop a little. All of my editing is just little tweaks.

Magnolias in London, along Piccadilly Street.IMG_9070

Daffodils were everywhere I went. Just so pretty.IMG_9144

A great use for leftover silver pieces.IMG_9471

The most amazing rest-stop EVER! They also had a butcher shop.IMG_9623

Bibury and a bike race. The most charming village in the Cotswolds… from my car.IMG_9829

Sunset from the top of Primrose Hill, with St. Pauls Church to the far right. IMG_9862

I love St. Pancras Station and Hotel. Victorian excess at its best.IMG_9886

Always a stop at Liberty of London when I am in town. They’re so creative!IMG_9927

Lashings of tea, with scones and clotted cream. IMG_9946

So glad you could come along with me on my trip! Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.