September 30, 2008

New Header

Some of you have asked about the new header, so I thought I would tell you about. I like to change out my header every few months, and since the season is changing here in the mid-Atlantic, the fountain header was looking a little too summery. I was looking through my image library and came across this copyright-free image I had downloaded from Dover Publications.
Since 1941, Dover has published books in the public domain, meaning that there are no longer any copyright issues to be dealth with. Sometimes, the original books are scanned and printed in their original format. In addition, they publish books of images, also in the public domain, including clip art, colouring books and much more. Some of their books come with a CD with high resolution images.
The picture I chose is a packing label for oranges from California. Since I am heading back to England, I thought this image was perfect. Look for more Brit-themed images over the next few weeks. I took the original image, and then in Photoshop, erased the words, cut the bottom edge and moved it up, and then added my blog name in a type combination that I designed earlier this summer. Then I saved it as a new image.

Dover has a weekly sampler of images, so in addition to the image books I've purchased, I also get the samples!

September 29, 2008

Book Thing Concept

In one of the comments in the post below, Visual Vamp said that since so many of you couldn't get to the Book Thing, I should set up an on-line store and sell books to you all. I would love to sell you all the books, but I can't.
For those of you who are new here, Book Thing is a non-profit organization that gives away books to anyone and everyone. You can take one book or you can pull up a tractor trailer and fill it to the brim. There are books being donated and arriving at Book Thing around the clock - literally. They have bins out back for people to stop and donate books.

Books are given away on Saturdays and Sundays from 9-6. But 99.998% of the books at Book Thing are marked with this stamp:
The other .002% of the books are sold to support the mission of Book Thing. They are mostly rare books or first editions that have been donated, either knowingly or unknowingly. Book Thing also accepts monetary donations and receives grants from some of the foundations in Baltimore. What Russell Wattenberg, the founder of Book Thing, is doing is truly a mission to make all types of books accessible to everyone.
You can get an idea of what a bare-bones operation Book Thing is here. Seriously. No heat or air conditioning, no coffee bar and no bathrooms. The empty shelves in the middle of the image above are where the Decorating and Gardening sections are located.

So while I am happy to send you books that I find or extra copies, I just can't sell them to you.

September 28, 2008

Sunday Books

This was the weekend of the huge Baltimore Book Festival, but unfortunately we got more than four inches of rain in the past 48 hours, and it was pretty much of a wash-out. Book Thing always has a booth at the festival and they give away thousands of books over the three-day long festival.

Since I'd already gotten soaked to the skin once yesterday, I bailed on my partner-in-books, Julie. But I did zip by the Book Thing warehouse today anyway... It was pretty crowded, probably with all of the people who were going to go to the festival. I managed to find some good books, regardless of the crowds.

First up is a stunning Rizzoli (is that redundant?) book, Wedding Flowers. I am not planning on getting married anytime soon, unless I Marry Adventure, but I thought I might get some good tips and hints on flower arranging. The book is by Paula Pryke and is beautifully photographed by Chris Tubbs.

Since I am going back to England next month, it was fortuitous that I found The Better Picture Guide to Travel Photography. It's full of technical information and loads of great travel photographs. Even if I only learn a few things from the book, it will be worth it if my pictures turn out better than before.

I love those funny 1950's and 1960's books like Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream Home. In the same vein, I found Sold to the Lady in the Green Hat by Emma Bailey. It's the autobiography of America's first woman auctioneer. I thought it would be a quick and easy read.

After my three-week long adventures with a houseguest this summer, Town & Country's Social Graces seemed like a perfect way to make sure I am a better guest when I stay with my old housemate in Wales next month. I also think that it's important to make sure you remember manners that you may have forgotten.

Finally, I found a biography of Marjorie Merriweather Post, American Empress by Nancy Rubin. Everyone in our area is familiar with her name, as a major music venue is named after her. I am sure that most people don't even realize that Merriweather Post was a real person. Her father was the breakfast foods magnate C.W. Post and her long life chronicles 20th century America, from the Roaring Twenties through the early 1970's. Hillwood, her house in Washington, DC, is a treasure-trove of French and Russian arts, including some Faberge eggs.

September 25, 2008

Blue and White With Carolyne Roehm

In today's New York Times, both on-line and in print, there's a terrific article promoting Carolyne Roehm and her new book, A Passion for Blue and White” (Broadway Books), which will be published on Oct. 28. Included on-line is a slide show of Carolyne's favourite blue items, ranging from a $4.99 bowl from Pearl River to a $9,000 Delft vase.

September 24, 2008

Take Me out to the Ballgame

Another sign of summer winding down is the end of the baseball season. I live about a seven-minute walk from Oriole Park at Camden Yards and Ravens Stadium, both in the heart of downtown Baltimore. Camden Yards is a great "old-fashioned" stadium, very intimate and warm and nestled into the surrounding community (unlike Ravens Stadium, next door).
The eastern part of the stadium is a quarter-mile long, and 25-foot wide warehouse, once used a part of the B&O railroad system and now used as office space for the Orioles and other businesses. You can see the warehouse on the right side of the image above, which was taken by the pilot of this balloon.

As the Orioles play out the last few games of the season, the crowds dwindle and the atmosphere becomes very casual. Before we went into the game (a twilight double-header, the second half of which started at 8:30 p.m.), we wandered around the Plaza of Champions to look at the statue of Babe Ruth and the retired numbers of former Orioles, including Cal Ripken, Jr. and Eddie Murray. Amazingly, it's been 13 years since Cal broke Lou Gehrig's consective games streak at 2131. And if you can't guess, I am a huge Cal Ripken fan.
One of the interesting facts about Camden Yards is that it was built in the exact same place as the tavern that Babe Ruth's father owned in the early 1900's. The house where he grew up is just a few blocks from the baseball park and is now a small museum.

Soon enough, the 2008 baseball season will be just a memory and we can look forward to a better season next year.

September 22, 2008

Happy First Day of Autumn

Fall arrived today at 11:44:16 EDT on the Autumn Equinox. I love the fall and I hate the fall. The days draw in, but the weather is crisp and clear. It's a slippery slope towards winter, but I can finally begin wearing my beloved cashmere sweaters again. Thanksgiving and Christmas are wonderful and I love the planning and parties that go along with them, but then it's the depths of winter! Do you love or hate the fall? Do you even have seasons where you are?

September 21, 2008

The Secret Life of Flowers

As you may have noticed, I've been taking lots of pictures of flowers lately, partially influenced by my new camera, and partially by Irving Penn's book of Flowers, which I found at Book Thing. Since we go to the Farmers Market every Sunday morning, that gives me plenty of flowers to shoot.
This afternoon, I was visiting my mother, and her neighbour is an amazing gardener. She's got a vast array of unusual flowers, and it's always fun to see what stage of bloom they're in.
I am so intrigued with the secret inner life of some of these flowers. When you look at them in a brief glance, you see the petals and leaves, but when you look more closely patterns emerge, and you see that there are many levels and layers that comprise the actual flower.

Here are some images from today:
WOW! What am I going to do when winter comes?

September 20, 2008

Hats at Mount Clare

One of the very first posts I did was about the historic house, Mount Clare Mansion, just a few blocks from where I live. The house museum is run by the Society of Colonial Dames in America of Maryland, of which my mother is one. They have exhibits throughout the year, and the newest one, Hats Off to History, just opened this week. And the best part is that Mount Clare has free admission for everyone during October.
I was lucky enough to be invited over for a tour and tea this afternoon and it was a great exhibit. Mount Clare is fortunate to have much of the original furnishings from the house and even some of the clothes from the Revolutionary War-era owners. The exhibit traces the history of hats for both men and women, in the Carroll family who owned the house, and in Baltimore, which was known for its hat-making industry.
The decline of hat-wearing for men dates from 1960 when John Kennedy was inaugurated and didn't wear a hat, even though the day was bitter cold. And while Jacqueline Kennedy was known for her pill-box hats, women stopped wearing hats by the mid-1960's.
In the UK, there are still many hat-wearing occasions, including Royal Ascot, where both men and women are expected to wear hats. At weddings, almost all the women wear hats, and there are even hat agencies where you can rent a hat to match your outfit. That's very handy when you're flying from the US for a wedding!
I love a nice straw boater. They're just so classic, and remind me of my "brother-in-law", M, who looks great in one!Everyone was asked to wear a hat and one woman really got in the spirit by wearing a vintage dress, with gloves and a great 50's style handbag.
Someone else had a wonderful vintage handbag which she'd left on the table. I thought the bag and sunglasses looked so classic, so I snapped a shot of this vignette.
I have a few hats that I like - a pink straw hat, a rough weave straw hat, a polar-fleece glen plaid hat and a great rain hat. Oh... and a baseball cap or two! Do you wear hats?

September 17, 2008


Our poor dear Joni of Cote de Texas is not having much fun, being hunkered down at her home in Houston without power and without Starbucks, which is her life's blood. Update: Head on over to Cote de Texas to read about Joni's lessons from Ike.But if you want to see some pictures of Joni's great house and how incredibly adorable she is, pick up the October issue of Better Homes & Gardens.
I was at the grocery store today and while I was in the check out line, I noticed that they had the August, September and October issues on display. After riffing through all three issues, I spotted Joni and her French/Texas style house. Since there aren't pictures on the BHG website, as far as I can see, I scanned some of them for you. Joni has such great taste and a feel for classics such as blue and white ginger jars and sunburst mirrors.
I hope you will keep Joni and the multiple thousands of other people in south Texas in your thoughts and prayers or click here to make a contribution to the Red Cross. These people will be feeling the effects of Ike for many years to come.

September 16, 2008

Animal Wall at Cardiff Castle

Cardiff is the youngest capital in the European Union, at just over 50 years old. Wales has its own devolved Assembly government, but not a parliament. Cardiff Castle or Castell Caerdydd in Welsh, is an interesting grouping of several diverse architectures, including a Roman wall, a Norman castle (below) and a Victorian castle. The most interesting part, to me, was the stone wall fronting part of the property.
The wall is notable in that it has a number of animals which look like they're trying to climb over and out to freedom. Originally, there were eight animals, but during a road-widening project in the early 1900's, several more were added. The strange fact is that none of the animals are native to Wales, or even the UK. They include oddities such as a lynx, a vulture, a beaver, a seal, a racoon, an ant-eater, monkeys and a pelican, amongst others. Most look like they were carved by someone who'd never actually seen what the animal looked like.
Pretty funny, huh?