February 29, 2012

World Book Day

Did you know that March 1st is World Book Day? It’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in more than 100 countries all over the world.Prof MackseyI am behind World Book Day 100%! I can’t imagine not having books to read. Or not being able to read. I can’t sit still without reading something… anything, even the back of the cereal box!  We are so lucky to have the Book Thing in Baltimore. Since all of the books are FREE, I can take and keep the ones I want, and return the ones I’ve finished.adventureSome of my favourite design books are listed along the right side of the blog, and they all have links either to posts I did about them, or where you can buy them.dictionaries a la kate spadeI can’t remember when I first started reading, but I do remember reading books like Nancy Drew, which started my life long love of mysteries.  Both of the houses where I grew up had libraries, and I remember sitting for hours, looking at the books there. 1049You can just see my father’s collection of red Baedekers’ Travel Guides in the left corner of this room. He had shelves built in on the wall opposite the fireplace for all of his books. At one point, he had more than 4,000 books! But that’s nowhere near the number that Johns Hopkins Professor Richard Macksey has in his house (top image). His floors had to be reinforced!This is just a small portion of one of my book cases, and you can see some of my father’s old travel books in the upper left of the book case.

Happy World Book Day!

February 28, 2012

London Viewlines

A very kind and charming reader dropped off the May 2012 issue of British Heritage for me this afternoon because he knew I might be interested in reading the story about Wales and its music. {Thanks, Tony!}

But the article that really fascinated me was on the 26 best views of London. viewlines greenwichIn 1934, a surveyor who feared that all of the “skyscrapers” being built would obstruct the views of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, worked out eight corridors or viewlines from all over London, so that St. Paul’s could be seen. Now there are 26 protected views of London which were re-ratified in 2002 and again in 2008 after some developers fiddled with the views.

There are four types of protected views. Linear Views, such as the Richmond view, where there’s a hole cut into a hedge on a mound with a direct sightline to St. Paul’s is a great example.viewlines richmondpark River Prospects are the view from any of the wonderful bridges across the Thames, or a view from the Victoria & Albert  like this old lion’s head used for tying up barges and boats on the Thames. There’s an old verse – If the lion drinks, then London sinks.viewlines victoria embankmentPanoramas are the sweeping views that encompass much of the capital, like the view from Greenwich in the top image, or from Alexandra Palace, or Ally Pally as it’s commonly known. You can look over many of the iconic buildings in London, with the Swiss Re, or Gherkin on the left and St. Paul’s on the far right.viewlines ally pally Townscape Views, such as the Tower of London from Queen’s Walk, across the Thames are the ones you most often see on postcards. viewlines tower of londonI am fascinated by things like this, and am delighted to know that there are markers along the river and at other stops, so I will know where some of the best views in London are. There was even an instructive map in the magazine with details,

or if you want further detail on the program or the different viewlines, you can click on this PDF for more information.

February 27, 2012


Thanks so much to everyone who left good suggestions about my plates. I do have a large white ironstone platter with a green transfer-ware pattern on it that I could use for the centerpiece of the arrangement. plates allglitters fornasetti adam and eve dishesThe issue with the photoshopped images from my last post was that the scale wasn’t right. The plates ranged from six to twelve inches, but I hadn’t managed to scale them. There are also duplicates of two of the plates.plates houseandhome_comI am hoping that in my travels next week, including a stop at Portobello Road, and Bermondsey Market, as well as some of the millions of charity shops, I might find several good examples of transferware to bring home. plates stylishserendipity_blogspot_comLord knows, I am practically taking an empty suitcase (except for presents for everyone), so I will have room to schlep all of my treasures home. And you know you’ll see them on my Etsy shop, soon after.Plates Vignette designBy the way, I do plan on doing some blogging while I am gone. I have a lot scheduled, including a trip to the school where I used to work to spend some time photographing the place with my soon-to-be new friend, Yonks. I am also meeting up with some other bloggers, some of whom I already know and some who will become new friends. plates runninginstilletosI also want to attend the V&A exhibition of Cecil Beaton’s photographs of the Royal Family, taken from 1939 to 1968. I plan on taking a big memory card and an extra camera battery because I am certain I will be taking lots of pictures.

I’ve got a ton of stuff, both at home and at work, to do before I leave, but once I board the plane and take a handy-dandy Ambien, I will be on my way!

February 26, 2012

Home Plates

I’ve been somewhat inadvertently collecting transfer-ware plates with scenes from the British Isles on them, and now that I have about 10 of them in black, red, blue and purple, I’ve been thinking of what to do with them.

Since my main room is just one large room, sort of divided into a living area and a dining area, I thought it would be fun to use the plates over a serpentine-front dresser I have. I had two pictures above it, but moved them to the other side of the room to have a gallery-style arrangement of pictures.

Here’s what it looked like just after I moved the pictures from the other side of the room. The picture above the lamp is a sketch of Venice on the back of an old magazine that my parents got form a gondolier in Venice. The engraving above the house picture (read about it here) is of Chepstow Castle on the Welsh borders. I used to go to Chepstow Race Course when I lived in Wales, so this brings back memories. When I was at my mother’s for dinner, I remembered that she had a stash of pictures that hung on our old house, but that she didn’t have hanging in the new one. So I asked to rifle through them to see of anything appealed to me. I found a watercolour from 1971 of an alley in Vienna that my father had picked up on a trip. Once I hung it, I realized it went brilliantly with the other painting I’d gotten last year. The colours and the subjects are very similar and they work perfectly together.

The other picture was a tiny photograph of some boats at a mooring in Chester, England from 1908. It is from my father’s family, and it encompasses my love of sailing and my background in the UK. It was too difficult to capture the photograph, but you can see it right under the lamp. I still have one more picture to hang, but I need to work out where it will go in the arrangement.

So, I need to hang the other side of the room, but I thought I’d leave that until I get back from the UK in a few weeks, since I am hoping to pick up another plate or two that will be souvenirs of my trip. However, I played around with some arrangements for the plates.
Thank god for Photoshop, so I can work out the arrangement before I hang all of the plates. I have mostly blue and red plates, but I have one each in purple and white. I can’t decide whether to hang the plates in a symmetrical arrangement, or just randomly.
Any suggestions?

February 25, 2012


A pair of rocks for $59.00? And they’re sold???OKL WTFThanks to reader Amy for giving me the heads up on this.

February 24, 2012

Maryland Antiques Show @ Hunt Valley

I attended the Maryland Antiques Show at Hunt Valley as the guest of the committee this morning and it was a great event. Soon after I arrived, the lecture with José Solís Betancourt & Paul Sherrill who were talking about their book, Elegant Transformations.hb-essential-elegance- They basically went through the book and talked about some of the projects they’d worked on, including a transformation so dramatic that they tore the house down!

One of the houses in the book was a place they’d done in DC 20 years ago, and it looked as fresh as if it was done last year. A design element that I thought was brilliant was to hang artwork from bronze rails, and run the power cords through the rails, so there wouldn’t be any unattractive power outlets marring the walls.

In this image, I particularly liked the gossamer-sheer covering on the hall table.José Solís Betancourt & Paul Sherrill’s main take-away was that your house should be so special to you that you look forward with great anticipation to returning home. What a great idea!

Following the lecture, I had a chance to tour the show. One of the first booths I came across was Rick Scott, from San Francisco, who featured the most wonderful selection of beautiful tortoise-shell and quill boxes. The detail work was just extraordinary and each piece had something to recommend it. I especially liked the little box made from the shell, in the center, above.

And how could I not love the beautiful silver at Spencer Marks from Southampton, Mass.! You can see the red from my sweater reflected in this ewer and cups. I can’t even imagine having to polish all of this silver, but it was stunning.

I loved these clocks from Lotz’s Antiques in St. Louis. A very contemporary look in a very old piece.

I had a chance to chat with Alan Cunha from Boston and Nantucket. I think that his was one of the booths that I liked most!  This chest is the 18th century version of my steel cabinet that holds shoes.I loved these glass pieces that are actually car headlights from the 1940’s. The yellow ones are fog lights, and the clear ones are headlights. Car buyers could choose the pattern for the glass.  Their simple frames and stands elevate them to art.

Another everyday item elevated to art was this set of moulds from Chanel and Tiffany used for casting pins and other small metal items. Just before I arrived, a woman came by and swooped up the lot of them.

I am a total sucker for garden antiques, and this display from Finnegan Gallery in Chicago really pulled me in. This summer, I am focusing on the garden at the house, but somehow, I doubt it will ever look this moody.One can only hope!

Another Nantucket dealer, Sylvia Antiques, had a great selection of nautical antiques.

I especially loved this simple pitcher with the sailing ship.Of course, I am mad for china of all types, and saw some great transfer-ware. And in blue…And white…The show this year is the best it has been in years, so I thoroughly recommend that you attend if you’re in the area.

Details are here, and the show runs until Sunday, February 26th.

February 23, 2012

What’s Up!

There’s a lot happening this coming weekend, with two major shows in Baltimore. First up is the Maryland Antiques Show at Hunt Valley, aka The Hunt Valley Antiques Show. Hunt valley

For several years, I was the Director of Development at Family & Children’s Services, so I know firsthand what a great show this is. Friday morning starts with a lecture by José Solís Betancourt and Paul Sherrill, the owners of Solis Betancourt & Sherrill. hb-essential-elegance-The duo recently published a book, Essential Elegance: The Interiors of Solis Betancourt which features a number of stunning rooms the pair have created. Their lecture begins at 10:00 on Friday, and is $40, which includes a catalogue and admission to the show, which runs until Sunday. bracket clockOther events at the show include personal tours by some of my friends. On Friday evening, Deborah Gore Dean will be leading a New Collectors Tour which includes a Maryland wine tasting, as well as a Scotch tasting. Deb will illustrate tasteful and accessible ways to decorate with the Show’s treasures.  On Saturday, James Archer Abbott, Director- Curator, Evergreen Museum & Library, will lead a private tour of the show, highlighting pieces and explaining their importance. Details are here.

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On almost the opposite end of the spectrum is the American Crafts Council Show, which runs through Sunday at the Baltimore Convention Center on the Inner Harbour. Joy HorvathThe wares at the ACC show range from glass to ceramics, from shoes to scarves. In fact, one of my favourite blogging buddies, Elizabeth Rubidge, of The Felted Garden is showing her gorgeous felted scarves again this year.Felted GardenThis is a show where there are always so many amazing things to be seen, and I am overwhelmed at the creativity of people.

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Friday evening, my friends Brooke McDonald and Michael Brassert, who make up the company Houpla Studios, will be presenting their latest work, Maryland Harvest, a film about farmers and chefs airing on Maryland Public Television April 17, 2012.Maryland Harvest The screening will take place at the Roland Park Women's Club at 6:00 pm. There will be a panel discussion featuring Brooke McDonald as moderator, Al Spoler, host of WYPR's Radio Kitchen and The Maryland Harvest, farmer Steve Rouse, and 2012 James Beard award nominee chef and owner of Woodberry Kitchen, Spike Gjerde. To RSVP, click here.

So, what are you doing this weekend?

February 22, 2012

One Love

A little less than two years ago, an old friend of mine’s daughter was murdered. Yeardley Love was a gorgeous girl, smart and athletic, with a beautiful smile and big bright blue eyes. I could see so much of her mother in her. 05_24_10For the past two weeks, the case has been tried in Charlottesville, Virginia, and this evening, the jury came to its decision. Guilty of second-degree murder, guilty of one count of larceny. Total sentence, 26 years. who-yeardley-love-was_awNo parent, no family deserves to go through what this family did. If you think that someone you know is in a dangerous relationship, talk to them. Report it to someone. Make a difference.

If you’d like to learn about the One Love Foundation, click here.