December 31, 2010

New Year’s Eve Dinner

If you ever read my now-defunct food blog, you might know that my two best friends in the ‘hood, Cat and Dog, are chefs!  And their dog, Halas, is Connor’s best friend, too.

I had a gorgeous dinner at their house this evening and then headed home to sedate Connor for the fireworks at the Harbour. He hates all loud bangs, fireworks, thunder, guns, etc.

NYE dinner2So, here’s what was on the menu, from the bottom and going clockwise:

* Braised/roasted onions… amazingly sweet and mild. 
* Proscuitto wrapped around mango. Just a twist on the old standard, with an onion, mint marmalade.
* Hummus, carrots and crackers
* A blue goat cheese, a brie, mango, mozzarella and two types of Italian sausages 
* Sushi

My contribution was lemon curd and raspberry jam in phyllo tarts.

For drinks, we had prosecco with kumquats. Fabulous! Did you know that you can just pop a kumquat into your mouth and eat it? I didn’t!NYE dinner Happy New Year to Everyone, and thanks to Cat & Dog for another fine and fun evening!

Photos by the incredible Chef Cat!

Happy 2011!

May 2011 bring you all of the joy, happiness and success that your heart desires! 

Many thanks for reading Pigtown*Design over the past year.
It means so much to me to have you as a reader.This isn't me!
 Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 
And never brought to mind? 
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 
And auld lang syne!

For auld lang syne, my dear, 
For auld lang syne. 
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet, 
For auld lang syne.

Cheers!

PS: This isn’t me in the picture! Don’t own a kilt, spats or a bagpipe!

December 28, 2010

Thank YOU!

Just a wee word of thanks for all of the lovely comments everyone left on this post. I can’t think of a better way to end a great year of blogging than to read such lovely and supportive comments!

Thank you so very much!

(Now back to being curled up in bed, sick as a dog!)

December 27, 2010

Tally Ho!

As a child, I remember attending the Thanksgiving Day Blessing of the Hounds at the Green Spring Valley Hunt at our family church, St. Thomas in the Green Spring Valley. Hunting runs deep in my family, as one of my ancestors, Robert Brooke, brought the first pack of hounds to the not quite yet, United States, in 1650. Lines from this original pack still hunt up and down the east coast today.

Coming full circle, I saw some wonderful images of the Boxing Day Hunt in Loughborough (luffbruh), England. My father went to school at Loughborough College.

Gathering before the hunt.tally ho1 The hounds waiting to be called into action.tally ho2 Having a tipple before the hunt in Chipping Norton in the Cotswolds. It’s is a gorgeous little village!tally ho3 Leading out the hounds at Prestwold Hall in Loughborough.tally ho4Beautiful hunting “pinks”. Many of these jackets are passed along through families. If you click the link, you’ll understand why!tally ho5 The whipper-in, with his whip and hunting horn. We had one of these horns growing up and I used to blow out my ears trying to get it to sound.tally ho6 If you’re interested in learning about fox hunting in America, there are no better books than those by Rita Mae Brown, set in the Virginia hunt country. Her Mrs. Murphy books and “Sister” Jane foxhunting mysteries spin a great story, while she also imparts some good information about the relationship between hunters and their prey.

Me? Or You? I Think it’s YOU!

Well, Christmas weekend just zipped by, didn’t it!  It was a great weekend here at Pigtown Design, with lots of time spent with family and friends, and a little bit of time home alone. Merry Christmas, Everyone![2]I was recently accused by a commenter of using the blog as a self-promotion. She kindly informed me that she thinks that I am gloating and shallow, and that it is “all about me”. Poor dear, she is misinformed. 

My blog is all about you, my wonderful reader. I work every day to think of things that will interest you, educate you and hopefully, amuse you. Everything I write is with you in mind. If I was doing this just for myself, it would be private.

Without Pigtown*Design, how would you ever have known about the amazing DeBois Textiles, home to incredible and inexpensive, top-of-the-line fabrics? And a treasure trove of vintage clothes! I discovered DeBois Textiles in January and shared it with all of my readers. The morning after I revealed the location of DeBois, a number of readers were lined up waiting for them to open. People still go there and tell them they found out about DeBois on Pigtown Design. 02-15-10 007 Without Pigtown*Design, who would have commiserated with me as we suffered through weeks and weeks of snow, eventually totaling 108 inches, in a place that closes schools for a mere dusting!  It was so wonderful to be able to keep communicating with people from around the world while I was hunkered down for days on end.02-06-10 018 Without Pigtown*Design, far fewer people would have known about the talented John Gutierrez, a metal artist in Baltimore and brother of my best college friend, who died too young at age 45. Your kind comments and thoughtful words helped both me, and John’s friends and family during a difficult time. 3-1-10 042 Without Pigtown*Design, it wouldn’t have been half as much fun to find two Herm├Ęs scarves when I was out “poking around” looking for fun things for my Etsy shop. I knew that my blog friends would understand the excitement I felt finding such a treasure.Granny in her fave Hermes-scarfOver the past few years, I’ve received more than 11,000 comments. This is not including the ones that are spam, and the very few I’ve deleted, like Miss Unpleasant, whose input does not elevate the conversation. I consider this blog a dialogue between me and you. I look forward to writing these 1100+ posts, and to hearing your thoughts and suggestions.

Yes, sometimes, it’s about me, but to my mind, it’s really all about you. So thank you very much for allowing me into your life to share mine.

December 24, 2010

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas

My Christmas season and all of the rest of my year are filled with such great friends, amazing blog readers and commenters, fun adventures, new blog friends and so much more, that twelve men doing something or another, just seems so insignificant!t-giving 039
From my house to yours, all of the joys of the season!

Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols, An Annual Tradition

One of the most important parts of my preparation for Christmas is listening to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve morning as I am preparing for the festivities later on in the day. This is a quiet contemplation of what Christmas is all about, and comes from the spectacular King's College Chapel in Cambridge, England.

The BBC's weekly radio newsletter puts it beautifully:

As the winter evening shadows lengthen, a solo chorister sings the first verse of “Once in Royal David's City” in the expectant stillness of King's College Chapel, Cambridge. The experience we have here is shared with millions around the world...

The solo chorister is chosen minutes before the service begins so that he won't have time to get nervous. Every time I hear the opening notes of "Once in Royal David's City", I just burst into tears. There's just something so moving about this.

The Festival was something that my father and I both loved deeply and I was lucky enough to spend a summer afternoon at King's College Chapel with him and my mother. I have an abiding image in my mind of my father and his sister as children in England listening to the service on their old radio while their father prepared their Christmas dinner.kings_choir

There's also a lovely line in the service about remembering "all those who rejoice with us, but on another shore and in a greater light", which was a reference to those lost during the Second World War, although I used to think it referred to my grandfather in England. kings college cambridge

The Nine Lessons tradition began in 1928 and has only not happened once, in 1930. The service continued during WWII even though the magnificent stained glass windows of the chapel had been removed for safekeeping.

You can listen to this service on BBC World Service or on public radio stations in the US. It is usually repeated on Christmas Day.

Reprinted from Pigtown Design, December 2007

December 23, 2010

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas

As a child, we always anticipated the arrival of parcels from the UK. My Auntie Margaret and then my cousins would post a package sometime in November, and with the surface mail, usually on a slow boat, it would arrive just before, or just after Christmas. brown paper packageIt had been bounced around and handled so much, that the brown paper packaging was soft from wear. My father would open the parcel and there would be a half dozen or so small packages, all wrapped in the lovely English paper. 

That wonderful experience was repeated yesterday when a massive parcel arrived for me from Andy in Wales. When I picked it up from reception, I was gobsmacked at how heavy it was – somewhere upwards of 15 lbs. I started opening it, but then decided to wait until I had someone to share the fun with… and I knew just who to call.12-21 011I rang my pal, David Wiesand, owner of the fabulous McLain-Wiesand, and told him what had arrived. Once I arrived at the shop with my parcel, he and I got to work like two greedy children, opening all of the little packages.

Here’s just a peek of what was in the box.  Detail from a fork. 12-22 043 12-22 041 On another set, the knife blade features a fishing creel, a rod and two salmon, amongst other decorative elements. 12-22 023 The handle of this piece is carved like a piece of twig.12-22 028 Detail from the end of a spoon.12-22 057 And of a knife.12-22 025 I am undecided as to whether this is a phoenix or a griffon. Ideas?12-21 030 How about this tulip-shaped pattern on the ends of a set of knives and forks?12-21 031 This set of knives and forks were just stunning. 12-21 025 12-21 029 The handles of this set of knives and forks just stopped both David and me in our tracks. 12-22 004 This set of knives and forks was more elaborately decorated than any other I’ve seen. The knife blade has a little fantastical dolphin on it, and the forks are incised on both sides, as is the knife.12-22 061 Even some of the boxes the silverware came in had wonderful details, like this little clasp on a faux shagreen box.12-22 050 Whew! This was just about the most incredible brown paper package I’ve ever received. If you’re interested in any of these pieces, check my Etsy shop in the next week or so and it will be for sale.

December 21, 2010

I’ll Take This… Vintage Sports Car

I was running errands today at lunch and saw this fabulous car parked on the side of the road. I did a quick u-turn and pulled over to take some pictures, hoping that the owner would appear.12-21 008 Now, you have to understand that the high temperature today hovered somewhere around 35*F, and so driving along in an open car like this one would require me to have a lovely fur driving rug… oh, that’s right, I just got one!12-21 010 I thought this was an old MG, but the badge on the front said MP. 12-21 007Any explanations? 12-21 007x Regardless of what this is, I’ll take it!12-21 009 Would you?

December 20, 2010

On the Tenth Day of Christmas

Ten Lords and lots of children at Woodbourne are leaping! They’re all so excited about how much money we’ve raised for the holidays for them. Click here to watch the video about what the children want for Christmas. tivoli 004 It’s not only at the holidays that we need to buy presents for the children. We also make sure that each and every child in our care has a birthday celebration as well. We make certain that they get a few presents and our devoted kitchen staff bakes each child the birthday cake of their choosing. They share it with the other kids on their units. tivoli 003 The children reside at Woodbourne for up to two years. That’s a long time to be away from family and friends, so for that time, we’re their family. They also attend school at Woodbourne while they’re in residence. That’s our school building above.Untitled-1 copyWe still a little short on our goal for the children, so if you’re able, please make a donation here

A very special thanks to Joni at Cote de Texas for her phenomenal support again this year. She’s the driving force behind the success of this campaign.

All of the staff who work at Woodbourne, 24/7 and care for the children, send our deepest thanks for your generosity. We see the spirit of Christmas in everything you do for us.

On the Ninth Day of Christmas

This is about when I start to panic and realize how many other people still need presents. It’s when I try and think of some creative and fun present that the recipient will appreciate, and not just re-gift!

As I was out playing Santa’s elf yesterday, I saw some fun little last-minute gifts that would be perfect. At Halcyon House, they had the most fun salt and pepper shakers in super clever iterations.  Naturally, I gravitated to these two pigs, who were just posing for the camera. 12-19 013 I adored this dolphin, which reminded me of an etching on some fabulous silver I just acquired. 12-19 014 Here’s the etching on the knife blade. I’ll show you this silver soon, it’s KILLER!12-15 010 The area where Halcyon House is located is in the middle of hunt country and fox hunting takes place on the farms areound the Green Spring Valley. Having said that, these little foxes are everywhere. My mother even has them in her garden. 12-19 018 I loved this salmon… its head was popping up on one place, followed by its tail a bit away.12-19 020 I stopped by Floral Studio, owned by Shawn, a college friend of mine. She’s the one who made the incredible carnation balls, here.  I saw this terrific crocodile, with a watch in its mouth. It reminded me of Peter Pan, when the crocodile swallows a clock and Captain Hook can hear it coming after him.12-19 021 I loved these felted cut-work stockings. Very Scandinavian.

12-19 022 12-19 023

Shawn also had a lot of ranunculus, one of my favourite flowers. Nothing like a spash of pink to cheer up a chilly winter afternoon.12-19 025 I finally got my wreath this morning at the last Farmers’ Market of 2010. It’s huge! And it’s magnolia leaves which I love, love, love. I didn’t think that the wreath needed any additional decoration, but I did dust some of the leaves with gold paint. 12-19 029 How about you? Are you ready yet?