March 31, 2010

April Food Day!

Today is April Food Day and it’s no joke.  April Food Day 2010[5]

More and more people in our country are going hungry because they have lost their jobs, their benefits have ended, they can’t find a job and have no place left to turn but to their local food bank. But the nation’s food banks are stretched to the limit because of the increased number of people needing their services.

You might think that none of your friends are going hungry, but I read a comment on a piece NPR  did about a photography exhibit about hunger in America, and think it could apply to any one of us:

…a dear friend and community member crossed over. At his one year crossing remembrance, stories began to come out and I realized with great sorrow, our friend went hungry. I feel sad when I think of it, that our dear friend who gave so much and was so generous in spirit and friendship was hungry and we never knew that. How did we not make it our business to know how it was with him we loved so?

Please make a donation to Feeding America, or your local food bank, and count yourself as one of the lucky ones if you’re not going to bed hungry every night.  Feeding America has set up a special URL for April Food Day so they can see how much we’ve donated.

If you’re a blogger, tweeter, facebooker or have an e-mail list, please share this address. Let me know if you’ve posted about April Food Day, and we will add you to the list of participants on the April Food Day site.

Thank you very much.

New Georgian Classics

Months ago, I wrote about the Georgian Group Awards Scheme, in which many of the UK’s deteriorating Georgian country homes are being brought back to life.austen7 Each year, there are several awards given to the best of these projects. Austen1Austen Redman, who works with the firm, Francis Johnson & Partners, classic architects in England, contacted me to tell me about some of their projects, and just recently sent me a small video of their work. austen2The amazing thing is that each of the homes shown in the video is less than 20 years old! austen4 We often lament that workmanship like that done in the Georgian era is no longer available, but Austen has shown us that it is. austen5Making the visuals in this video even more wonderful is the music flowing through it. The piece is Nocturne No.1 by John Field (1782-1837), performed by Julian Savory.austen6 The video is here. I hope you will take a few minutes to watch it.

March 29, 2010

April Food Day – Won’t You Help?

We’re getting ready for April Food Day 2010, and in anticipation, I set up a special gmail account, and sent out about 240 e-mails asking fellow bloggers and other friends to blog about it, or tweet, facebook or e-mail about it. Of the e-mails I sent more than 160 were returned! Apparently, if you have a new account, you can’t send more than one e-mail at a time, and you certainly can’t add an attachment!

After several hours of screeching frustration, and then finding out that the gmail account changed all the settings for my blogs, I deleted it. What I had wanted to do was this:

  • send a reminder to everyone to post about April Food Day on April 1
  • give everyone the specific April Food Day link for Feeding America, so donations can be tracked
  • give everyone the logo for April Food Day 2010
  • ask for your support for this project

April Food Day2010.docA year after we did the first April Food Day, the issue of hunger in America is still as desperate as ever. People you know - your neighbours, your relatives and your friends – are visiting food banks to help make ends meet. People who never in a million years thought they’d have to get food are visiting food banks. And the food banks are more stretched than they’ve ever been.

Chris, the editor of Easy & Elegant Life, and I would really appreciate your support on this project. Last year, we had 150 bloggers post something, and we’d love it if we could double that number this year.

E-mail me here or Chris, here, if you need any further information.  Thanks, in advance, for your help!

March 28, 2010

What Goes Around…

I believe firmly in the theory of “what goes around, comes around” or “play it forward”, so when I had excellent luck at the Book Thing this weekend, I had a sneaking suspicion that I knew what had brought my good fortune.

As I was driving back into Baltimore, the old Mark Knopfler tune, “Quality Shoe” came on my ipod. As I listened to the lines, “… You don't want no stand-by pair, 'Cos these'll take the wear and tear. Made to take good care of you.  For that trip by road or rail, For extra grip on those rocky trails, You're gonna need a quality shoe…”  images from my new friend Dusty’s blog, Maxminimus, came into my mind. By the time I arrived back home, I knew I wanted to make a little video for him. Seriously, the man has more shoes than almost any woman I know!  Take a look at the video… I am pretty happy with the synch of the pictures and lyrics.

So when I was at the Book Thing today, and started spotting treasures right and left, I thought that I might be getting back some of the good karma for making the video.

First up, a book I’ve been wanting to add to my collection for a while now. In fact, I wrote about the subject the first year of my blog, and even included a picture of the cover of this book. Book Ting 006 Regardless of what you think of the Duchess of Windsor, she was very influential in her lifetime, and since she’s a Baltimore gal, she’s even more interesting to me.

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I must have gotten to Book Thing just after a devoted Royalist dropped off a cache of books, because I also found “Royalty in Vogue” a collection of pictures from the pages of Vogue magazine. Most of the royals pictured are from the British royal family, but there are a few other of the older European houses as well.  Some of the images are really quite lovely, including those of Princess Anne and Princess Margaret.

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Also in the haul was “The Story of the Royal Family” with a foreword by the Earl of Litchfield. Loads and loads of pictures, and the history of the family through the 20th century.Book Ting 002 Finally, the grandmother of them all, the late Queen Mother. Her long life spanned one of the most amazing periods in time, covering two world wars, the abdication of her brother-in-law, the sudden death of her grand-daughter-in-law and much more. She was a feisty old gal, and apparently quite funny!

Book Ting 003 Book Ting 005

Speaking of things coming and going around, we did spend a part of the weekend at a less highbrow pursuit – the local Charm City Roller Girls semi-finals!  Yes, this is the old roller derby that you remember, and it’s quite a lot of fun. More than 1200 people of all ages showed up to cheer the girls on! It’s a very family-friendly event as evidenced by the 6:00 p.m. start. Derby Girlz 003

I hope that you had a great weekend, too!

Earth Hour

Did you remember to turn out your lights at Earth Hour on Saturday? I was out, but had made sure to turn all lights out but one, before I left. I kept one light on for Connor.

All across the world, huge landmarks turned out their lights for an hour, and made a statement about how we keep so many lights on unnecessarily.

Here are some pictures, from the Guardian, that show landmarks around the world with their lights out.

Two views of China’s Forbidden City, before (top) and during (bottom).

Earth Hour1 Earth Hour2

Sidney Harbour BridgeEarth Hour3

Tower Bridge – LondonEarth hour5

Welsh Assembly Government – This is a couple of blocks from where I lived in Cardiff and is a very green building.Earth-hour--004 Houses of Parliament - LondonEarth-hour--002

Did your city or town turn out the lights?

March 25, 2010

Spring House Tours

In the past two days, I’ve received information about the Maryland House & Garden Tour, an annual event from several sources. This year, a number of the houses featured are in the Baltimore neighbourhood of Guilford, about which I wrote here and here. Guilford

As the brochure says:

Guilford's history dates back more than 200 years. Originally comprised of 10 patents granted to British citizens from the mid-1600s through the 1700s, the area was valued for its "gentleswells, which afford many beautiful views of the city and bay." The entire area was sold in 1780 as confiscated British property to Revolutionary War veteran General William McDonald. General McDonald gave Guilford its name and began the tradition of celebrated architecture still evident today. The land that is Sherwood Gardens today included a small and beautiful lake with foot bridges and winding paths graced with shrubs and statuary. In the mid-1800s, a buffalo was seen strolling the grounds with a herd of deer, much to the delight and surprise of passersby. Then as today, architectural and natural beauty were equally valued.

Guilford2 The tour will be held on April 25th, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and will be a brilliant opportunity to see the interiors and gardens of about a dozen of Baltimore’s most spectacular private houses. Guilford3

Information on the tour is here. I am sure that there are house and garden tours in your area, too!

March 24, 2010

What a Day!

Have you ever had one of those days when completely unexpected things happen, but everything falls into place seamlessly? That was my day, today.

Fellow blogger, historic house maven and friend, JCB and I were scheduled to attend the Evergreen lecture this evening, but when I found out that she was going to be spending the afternoon museum-hopping, I decided to take the afternoon off from work and join her. JCB and I agreed to meet at Gertrude’s restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art, have lunch and see the CĂ©zanne exhibit there and then head up to Evergreen.BMA 002Little did I know that there was someone else there waiting for me. Someone I know, but have never met. Someone I’ve laughed and joked with, but have never spoken to. Someone who made a lovely donation to Woodbourne, and whom I thanked, but did not know it was them. Someone who I was supposed to be meeting today at the place and time where I was, but I didn’t know it.BMA 010

As I glanced across the hall at the BMA, I saw a pair of ‘go to hell’ trousers that I’d seen on a blog that morning, recognized a fondness for monkstrap shoes, caught the twinkling eye I’d spotted in numerous photographs. As I went up to introduce myself, there was a second of not knowing, then warmth and welcoming… of course you’re here, we told you we’d be here. What? No, I am with JCB…

Didn’t you get our e-mail saying we’d be here and to come join us? No, I am here with JCB…

Then why are you here, now? Because I am supposed to be here…BMA 013

A case of e-mails not received, invitations missed, but ending up in the exact right spot, at the exact right moment, at the exact right place to have a wonderful long lunch with two new friends, one old one, and lots and lots of laughter and love. Thanks, Dusty and friend. I am so glad the karmic vibes came across time and space and landed me right where I was supposed to be! BMA 014What a great day!

March 23, 2010

I’ll Take This… Flat Next to Windsor Castle

It’s a wee flat, with just one bedroom and one bath, which is all marble, but the place is nestled next to the grand walls of Windsor Castle.  The flat is in Chapter Mews, a purpose-built development opened by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II in 1982. windsor mews The provenance of the flat couldn’t be any better, as it was formerly owned by Lord Wellesley & The Duchess of Wellington,  It has a gated and secure location with CCTV surveillance and castle views. windsor mewsThe interior is a bit stark and modern for my taste, and less than 550 square feet, windsor mews2but it’s all about location, location, location!

March 22, 2010

This & That

Wednesday evening is the lecture at Evergreen House in Baltimore. The theme for the lectures this year is houses with theatres in them. Our friend, Keith McKay, who is the Director of Historic Preservation at Ten Chimneys, the Lunt/Fontanne house in Wisconsin, is the featured speaker. Click here for more information and tickets.ten chimneys My old friend, Jake, e-mailed to let me know that he’s planning a yard sale in a few weeks. I’ve written about Jake’s sales before, here and here, and this one should be every bit as good. 5-27 012 If you are in Baltimore on Saturday, April 10th, it’s worth a stop. I will provide more details as to the time and location as we get closer to the date.  After you’ve shopped at Jake’s, you can wander around one of Baltimore’s prettiest historic urban neighbourhoods, Bolton Hill. Bolton Hill

Speaking of sales, my friend Tracey of  Housewerks, and I are having a “pop-up sale” in June. We are asking a select group of friends to come sell all things hand-made, re-made and vintage.  Housewerks’ property is about two acres, so there’s plenty of room for our vendors to set up their wares. Pigtown Pop-Up @ HousewerksMy friend, Cat, who is a pastry chef, will be making an assortment of fabulous cupcakes. I might even ask the famous Mr. Lee to come and have a Southsides booth!  There will be lots of great things on offer, so save the first Saturday in June for the Pigtown Pop-Up @ Housewerks!

If you are a blogger, don’t forget that we’re doing April Food Day again this year. We are asking all bloggers that we know to post something about hunger in America on April 1st to raise awareness of this issue. Last year, we had more than 150 participants and we’d like to exceed that number this year. Feeding America gave us a special URL, so that we can track donations to their site. I hope that you will join Chris at Easy & Elegant Life, and me in this effort.April-Food-Day2

Thanks, as always, for reading Pigtown*Design!

March 21, 2010

Tour de Baltimore – Saturday Edition

Saturday was another perfect day – sunny and 70s. We started again at DeBois where our Tourists found some spectacular silks, some gorgeous toiles, new ikats and a prom dress!Tour de Baltimore Part 1 008

Again, we went to Housewerks, where the amazing glass pieces were a big draw, as was the dissertation on refinishing woods by one of the owners! Tour de Baltimore Part 1 014Our next stop was McLain-Wiesand where we were greeted by late morning Mimosas and gorgeous pink cupcakes. Before we even entered the shop, one of the Tourists found the settee of her dreams – right in the front window!01-27 008 Of course, she had to try it before she bought it and to the entertainment of the group, she posed in the front window of McLain Wiesand! The settee even fit in the back of her car, so she bought it on the spot. Tour de Baltimore Part 2 001As she was negotiating the deal, the rest of the group had the chance to see behind the scenes at McLain, and watch some of David’s artisans at work. Lest you think all David’s gang does is produce gorgeous furniture, they also have a sideline in Squishies®. They’ve even made a rock video with the group. Tour de Baltimore Part 2 002xFrom McLain Wiesand, we moved to Gore Dean, where they had champagne, crustless cucumber sandwiches and Easter cookies for us! They were setting up for a Bridal event on Sunday and had stunning place-settings on the tables. I just loved the plates which had different types of mesclun salad leaves around the border, which, I think, are from Hermès.

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As we left, they gave everyone a gorgeous goodie bag, which was such a generous gesture to their visitors! Here are some of the other place-settings.

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One thing I loved at Gore Dean was this sweet stationery from the late Mrs. John L. Strong. I love crocii because they herald the start of spring in Baltimore. I’ve heard rumours that friends of friends have bought Mrs. John L. Strong and may be resurrecting the line!Tour de Baltimore Part 2 013Lunch was loads of fun, especially with Cafe Hon’s all-day brunch. I did notice a few of the group ordering their Eggs Benedict with Crabcakes! WOW!  There was a table next to ours where the girls were celebrating a wedding shower and the bride tried a lovely pink dress to go with her pink flamingo, the motif of Cafe Hon.Tour de Baltimore Part 2 026

Before we ventured to Book Thing, we wandered through the village of Hampden and stopped in a few of the one-off shops along the main street.

I had to warn the Tourists that Book Thing is NOTHING like the sweet book-shop in the film Notting Hill, and that the proprietor is nothing like Hugh Grant. Everyone in the group found books at Book Thing, and we all left laden with interesting books that we’d never have found in any book store. I actually found a slim volume on making curtains!

All in all, two great days with a lot of wonderful new friends. Thanks to all who made this tour such a great time, and thanks to those who took time to come to Baltimore and see my city!