September 2, 2014

Tin Plates or Sèvres China?

I recently posted an image on my Instagram feed, and got a lot of compliments and comments about the plate. Although it looks quite fancy, it’s actually a tin plate and is just the thing for a late afternoon snack in the garden or a picnic at the horse races. IMG_2963x

I think I picked up the first one or two of these at a museum shop, and over the years, I have accumulated about a dozen of them in total. IMG_3052They are all copies of antique china patterns, including Sèvres from Chatsworth in England and the Hermitage in Russia. Most of the plates I have are from the Wallace Collection in London or Mottahedeh here in the States. mottahedahOccasionally, you can find them in the gift shops at house museums. When Restoration Hardware was what it used to be, and not all this over-sized crap, you could find specialty sets of tin picnic plates. I picked up a set of circus plates for my nieces and nephew and a set of Christmas plates. Another source is eBay. IMG_3044I have had mine for about ten or more years, and use them with some frequency. They are lightweight and very durable. I don’t put them (or anything else) in the dishwasher, so I can’t speak to how well they’d hold up if put in the washer. IMG_3045

When I am eating outside, I grab one of these plates because I don’t have any worries about it breaking. And we always use them for our tailgate at the Hunt Cup. My friend’s plates are on the right and one of mine is on the left. image

Legend has it that Annette de la Renta bought hundreds of these plates for her daughter’s wedding dinner. They were featured in the pages of Vogue and became quite the chic item to acquire. IMG_3049

The other brilliant thing about these places are that they’re totally green – no plastic at picnics and you can use them over and over again.

September 1, 2014

Shocking

It’s shocking that it’s been 17 years since we awoke to the news that Princess Diana had been killed in a car accident in Paris. I remember getting up before the crack of dawn to watch her wedding with a group of friends, but I couldn’t bring myself to watch the funeral. It was just too emotional for me. PrincessDiana

She was a beautiful woman, and as she grew older, she became even more beautiful. Her look and make-up was toned way down and she became a very classic beauty.image

Diana was a beautiful subject for photographers, whether candid snaps or in the studio. imageThe series of photographs she did with Mario Testino before she died are among some of the most beautiful of her. image

However, there are still a few unflattering ones of her floating around the web. image

It is interesting to think about what she would have accomplished had she lived. image

But we’ll never know.

August 29, 2014

Bunny@Ballard

Bunny Williams has, for many years, been one of my arbiters of great taste. I’ve been lucky enough to meet her on a number of occasions, and she’s proven to be more than warm and gracious every time. While many people are jacks of all trades, she’s a master of all! And what-ever she puts her hand to, and her name on, is always of high quality and great beauty. Such is the case with her collaboration with Ballard Designs. BunnyWilliamsimageMost of the collection is tabletop and features china, cutlery and glassware, as well as accessories. Let’s take a look.

The Campbell Collection, a 16 piece set of chinaimage

Tortoise-handled cutlery, made in Italyimage

Silver-wire cachepot, perfect for holding a pint of ice-cream!image

Clear spiral glass and cobalt gobletsimage

Tortoise hurricaneimage

Melange dinner-wareimageimageMercury glass votives, which also come in silver and amberimage

Beaded pagoda candle coverimage

Charging station. I could totally use one of these! It also comes in chocolate.image

Kitchen hearth table clothimage

Straight out of Beatrix Potter, watering can place card holdersimage

Banded dinner napkins which also come in natural and whiteimage

Horn salt & pepper setimage

Although the collection won’t be shipped until September 25, it is available for order now. The price points on this collection are very reasonable. To see more of the collection, please click here.

August 26, 2014

A Country Garden at the End of August

I had a chance to see Jonathan’s garden over the weekend after a day of light but steady rain. I was there a little the “golden hour”, that time an hour or so before the sun sets, when the light is clear and golden, but it was stunning nevertheless. It’s fun to look back at the garden over the past few months and see how much it has flourished. June. July. It is set up for the washed out dinner party. IMG_2740

One of the things I like most about this garden is all of the “rooms” with something at the end of the vista that draws your eye. This old iron bench is the perfect example, and it’s just one of a number scattered through the gardens.IMG_2743

The cutting garden, which is anchored by an iron armillary, is a riot of colours, shapes and scents. IMG_2754IMG_2752

There are plants as varied as globe amaranth, dahlias, zinnias, cockscomb, and even some lowly marigolds. IMG_2748IMG_2750IMG_2761IMG_2763IMG_2765IMG_2766IMG_2777

The garden then opens up into one of several more rooms, this one with white cast iron benches around the perimeter, just waiting for a game of combat croquet on the beautiful and flat lawn. Funnily enough, before this garden was built, I remember a cut-throat game of softball between the staffs at the Baltimore Museum of Art, where I worked, and the Maryland Historical Society where my friend worked. IMG_2779

Looking at one of the center urns, you see another variety of plants, including this wavy datura, or the poisonous jimsonweed. IMG_2780It’s only when you look closely at the plant that you see the incredible seed pods. IMG_2783

The plants in the urn have really flourished, and the sweet-potato vine is spilling over the edges and the coleus around the base carries on the green and deep purple theme. IMG_2785

Moving through the arches of hyacynth beans,IMG_2801IMG_2803 IMG_2823

you come to the big cutting and vegetable garden and it is a RIOT of colour!IMG_2845IMG_2805IMG_2843IMG_2849IMG_2841IMG_2833

The tomatoes at the top, and pumpkins at the bottom, are both going crazy, IMG_2815

the espaliered apples are looking like they will provide a good crop, IMG_2837

and somehow, even the figs managed to survive the winter and fruit (which we ate with prosciutto around them).IMG_2797

As we headed back towards the house, we stopped to look at the spent clematis, IMG_2859

and gather the dogs. IMG_2867

By this time, it really was the golden hour and I managed to get a couple of shots of the lawn set up for the washed out dinner. IMG_2871IMG_2873IMG_2877

After dinner, as I was leaving, I remarked that I could smell gardenias blooming, and Jonathan gave me one, which put mine to shame! This had to be at least four inches across! Mine might be two inches.IMG_2881

Thanks to Jonathan for a tour of the garden and for a great Sunday supper of Saturday’s leftovers… and some other dishes!