December 2, 2016

Decorating for the Festive Season

When I lived in the UK, the train stations used to advertise the train times for “The Festive Season”, thereby encompassing all of the myriad holidays that fall this time of the year. I have incorporated that phrase into my thinking, in part, because I am not a huge fan of red and green Christmas decorations.

I love looking through the UK’s House & Garden magazine’s ideas for alternate holiday decorations, and thought I’d share some of them with you, like I did last year!

Stick stickers back-to-back on string and then hang them everywhere. I’ve done this on my all-purpose gardenia, which serves as my de facto Christmas tree. image

You can even use little triangles or squares for the garlands. This is great for kids to help with.image

Taking things one step further, you could adorn the trim with stick-on gold foil dots!image

The amazing Ben Pentreath has decorated his country house with wonderful greenery. I especially live the single ball hanging from the ceiling.image

Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and other grocery stores often have table-top trees, which are simple to decorate.image

And why stop at one tree?image

Craft stores often have bags of pompoms and you could use them to decorate a tree.image

Although stringing little bells on a chain might be a chore, you could put them onto a brighly coloured ribbon, knotting at each bell. image

A winter walk in the woods might yield a great branch that you could use to decorate. Use those great little copper wire fairy lights to light the tree and then tiny balls to make it sparkle.image

Or maybe a bough of fir with tiny ornaments strung from bright ribbons.image

I love the idea of massing bright balls down the center of the table. It would also look amazing with low candles interspersed throughout.image

How do you decorate for the Festive Season? I’d love to know.

November 22, 2016

Think & Thank

When I was in the UK in March, I spotted a beautiful memorial window at the Chester Cathedral. T&TIt was in the cloistered area of the church, which would not originally have had glass windows. But clearly, after the First World War, when so many young men in the UK were lost to war, families installed windows in memory of their loved ones.

This phrase really struck me, and I have been trying to live according to it: Think about others in what I do, and Thank those who do things for me. And, I might add, be thankful for all that I have. In comparison to some people, I don’t have much, but in comparison to many people I have very much. think and thank

So, I am thankful for all I have, my good life, great friends, a loving family, a safe place to live, a job that I love, volunteer work that keeps me fulfilled, a little dog who makes me laugh, interests that keep me busy and readers who follow my blog.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and those you love.

November 17, 2016


So, I saw someone whose dog had more than 20,000 followers on Instagram, so I decided that I’d go for world domination and get Figue her own Instagram account: Figue_the_Pup! image

As much as I loved Connor, Figue is entirely different.image She’s funny and bouncyimage and has a ton of personality. imageThe fact that she can come and curl up on my lap,image or sit on my shoulderimage makes her a lot more cuddly than Connor. I hope you will follow along on her adventures! Click here to keep up to date with Figue!

November 10, 2016

Shameless Self Promotion: Tea Towels

I have had a lot of requests for my tea towels, especially since they make great presents for the holidays. maryland crabBut since the company that prints them is getting busy and the lead time is growing, I need to have any orders in by November 20th. forks on chalkboard

I have added a lot of new designs, and can do custom designs for you, as well.Sows I have added the entire catalogue to Google Drive, where you can see it. Click towel is designed to hang over the oven handle)

All of the ordering information is in the catalogue, or you can check my Etsy page for some of the designs and lots of other great gift ideas. Thanks!

November 9, 2016

Instagram: Some Pretty Things

The past few days have been bruising to some of us, and overwhelming for many others. So, I thought I’d post some pretty things from a range of sources.

Who is leading whom? Figue is leading her cousin, Phoebe. Or is Phoebe walking Figue.image

Jill Andrews designs and makes custom gowns. I had a chance to stop by her atelier recently.image

The last of the dahlias. Gave this arrangement to a friend whose mother died.image

I love the colour of this antique patchwork quilt.image

The portico of one of my favourite Baltimore buildings, the McKim Free School.image

I finally found a copy of the book, This Petty Pace, by Mary Petty. I adore her work.image

As part of an auction lot, I got this huge bunch of pheasant feathers. image

Figue wanted to let you know that she did her civic duty.image

Take care!

November 3, 2016

The Kennedy Mystique Continues

Although it’s been nearly 60 years since John F. Kennedy died, and more than 20 years since Jackie Kennedy died, there’s still such a mystique about them and their lives.

Potomack Auctions, in Alexandria, Virginia is aucitoning some Kennedy pieces, complete with impeccable provenance, this weekend. Let’s take a look.

Set of two lanterns from the Kennedy’s Georgetown house on N Street.  imageimage

Deed to the house in Georgetown, signed by both Kennedysimage

Brass Chandelier/Hall Lantern from the Georgetown House.image

Letter to the new owner of the house, asking for the return of the lantern.image

Reply to the owner’s letter from JBKOimage

Garden fountain from the Georgetown Houseimage

Bottle of “Jacqueline” signature perfume, which JBKO thought was in bad taste.image

French Provincial bedstand from Glen Ora, Virginia Kennedy retreatimage

Louis XV Commode from JBKO’s bedroom at Glen Oraimage

Napoleon III Ebonized and Brass Table from Glen Oraimage

Small French coffeepot, marked and with a turned wood handle, from Glen Oraimage

Three George III English silver pieces, from Glen Oraimage

For more details about the auction, or to place a bid, contact Potomack Auctions.

November 1, 2016

Marcia, The Friendly Ghost

Have I told you that we have a ghost in our offices? Her name is Marcia Crocker Noyes and she worked for us for 50 years and lived in a penthouse apartment in our building!Marcia-crocker-noyes4

She was quite extraordinary, starting as our librarian in her early 20’s, and working for us until she died in her 70’s. Marcia took our medical library from a sloppy and outdated collection of about 5,000 books to a top medical library of 65,000 volumes of medical books and journals, including some of the most valuable anatomy books in existance.

Her influence is still felt today in the legacy she left as one of the four founders of the Medical Library Association, where the highest award is given in her name. Halloween 2016

On Wednesday, November 2, which is All Soul’s Day, we’re giving a lecture on Marcia’s life, featuring the Academic, the Ethereal and the Artistic. You can get more details here.

October 25, 2016

American Patchwork Quilts

For years, I’ve had a minor interest in American Patchwork Quilts, since finding one bundled up in the back of an old barn sale. It was about $20, so I felt like I didn’t have much to lose if I bought it. When I got home, I consulted some of my old Martha Stewart Magazines (this was in the pre-Google days!) who had consulted specialist, Laura Fisher, to see how to wash it.

image(Totally irrelevant, but you can see the detail of a quilt that Figgy’s on!)

The basic recommendation was to soak it in the bathtub to remove the surface dirt and continually change to water until it ran clean. I was then able to lay it in the back yard to begin the drying process, and after it was almost dry, I hung it on the clothes line. The quilt was white with huge green, orange and pink tulips on it. I loved it.

That was about 20+ years ago, and I find that I am still buying American quilts and use them in my everyday life, not, unfortunately, giving any thought to their value. The white star quilt that shaggy Figgy is sitting on is now her bed and she loves it. The stars were rather worn out, so I didn’t feel too bad about using it for her. image

One of the first things I made when I taught myself to sew about six years ago, was a patchwork quilt in no discernable pattern. I figured it would help me learn to sew in straight lines. I backed the patchwork with a cozy fleece and still use it today, as evidenced by this image from a year ago, while I had Halas the Brown Dog, staying at my house.image

I am pretty casual about chucking the quilts into the washing machine and then hanging them out to dry in the sun and the breeze. This weekend was a perfect time to do that, so out they went!


One of the things I love about these old quilts is how they change as you move closer to them, and then step back to get another perspective. image

The perspective above looks totally different than the one below.image

The workmanship is amazing, and since I got this one at an auction in Southern Pennsylvania, I have a suspicion that it was made by an Amish woman or girl. image

I know that they’re not the rage like they were 25 years ago, when Ralph Lauren cornered the market on them, but they’re such an American icon.

I am in major de-accessioning mode and these and others (except my beginning sewing project) will be on my Etsy shop within the next week or so. imageRegardless of that, I have my eye on one at a local auction that just has me swooning! Killer shade of yellow!