May 31, 2012

Jubilee: Souvenirs

Of course, everyone’s hopping on the Diamond Jubilee bandwagon with souvenirs galore, and some of them are quite wonderful, and others are terribly tacky!

Emma Bridgewater always has such fun crockery and I saw some of her pieces in Liberty of London earlier this spring, like this tea pot. emma-bridgewater-teapot

And then there’s this great cookie jar.news_bridgewater

I liked this colourful china from Alison Gardiner.alison gardiner

And there are tea towels galore, from the charming, cath kidston

to the clever,singing in the reign

to the celebratory,hunkydory home

to the crass.henry-holland-tea-towel

There those who’ve chosen to re-brand their items, like Marmite, maamite-spreadand Hunter.Hunter boots

And those who go for the elegant touch, like this silk pocket scarf from Drake’s in London.drakes london

Overall, these souvenirs seem to be a lot nicer than the ones for Will and Kate’s wedding last year.  If you have a favourite souvenir, add the link in the comments.

May 30, 2012

Jubilee: Events

One of the things I loved most about living in the UK was that there is a series of events through the year that more or less unites the whole country. Events like Guy Fawkes Day or Bonfire Night, the Last Night of the Proms which is celebrated in London, Swansea, Edinburgh and Belfast, and the Queen’s Christmas Speech. promsThe Diamond Jubilee events begin on Saturday when HM The Queen attends the Epsom Derby. On Sunday, there will be street parties all over the UK. More than 9500 applications to close off streets to traffic have been received. Queens-Jubilee-street-party-posterIt’s basically a huge potluck party with all of the neighbours joining in.

Meanwhile, on the Thames, there will be more than 1000 boats sailing or motoring in a flotilla to celebrate the Jubilee. I am so pleased to see that the Royal National Lifeboat Institute, an amazing organization, will have one of the lead boats. bargeAs the Royal Family boards their Royal Barge, they will be saluted by red-coated Chelsea Pensioners.

On Monday, there will be a huge rock concert at Buckingham Palace… or actually at the Winged Victory statue in front of the Palace.

After the concert, a network of Beacons will be lit by communities throughout the United Kingdom, as well as the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the Commonwealth. The organizers had originally planned for 2012 beacons, but more than 4000 have been registered. This is just the map of my old part of the world.beacons mapA beacon chain, once used as a tool for communication, has now become a symbol of unity across towns, borders, countries and continents.  As in 2002, The Queen will light the National Beacon, the final one to be lit.Beacon GoldenOf all of the events, this is the one that I would love to see the most. I love the idea of the beacons stretching out across the land. beaconsOne of my fondest memories was on the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, driving with Andy to some remote historical docking to see HRH Princess Anne light a beacon. We never did find the fire or the Princess, but we sure got to know the Barry Island docks pretty well.

On Tuesday, the Jubilee Celebrations will culminate with a Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s, and then a carriage procession from Westminster to Buckingham Palace.

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In unrelated news, I came thisclose to getting Connor a little friend! As I was crossing a major intersection in downtown Baltimore, I noticed a mother duck and her six babies stranded on a median strip. The ducklings were too small to get up the curb, and they were in danger of being flattened. I threw down my gear, and started picking them up, one by one, as traffic flew by. Who knew that ducklings were so fast? Anyway, it was all I could do not to stash one in my bag to bring home as a playmate for Connor.

May 29, 2012

JUBILEE WEEK + A Giveaway!

If you’re not a fan of HM The Queen, you might want to check back next Monday, because for the rest of the week, I am going to be featuring all things Diamond Jubilee!HMTQSince I am distraught about not being in the UK to celebrate in Wales with Andy and the children at a street party, and I am missing the Flotilla on the Thames, as well as the 2000 beacons which are being lit up and down the UK, I was delighted to receive an offer to view and review two DVDs from BBC America, the Queen’s Palaces: Buckingham, Windsor and Holyrood House, and the Diamond Queen.QDJ_English_Uncoated_CMYK

Each of the DVDs is three hours long, and although I haven’t finished either, the hour or more I’ve seen of each has shown me that this is another quality BBC production. Inlay

The Queen’s Palaces is narrated by Fiona Bruce of Antiques Roadshow fame. She’s excellent, bringing a lot of history along with a bit of humour and a flash of leg. The Queen's PalacesThe BBC seemed to have wide access to the palaces and take the viewer into areas not on the tourist routes. The Palaces has an introduction by the Prince of Wales, which itself is fascinating to see.US_DIAMOND QUEEN_FINAL_InlayThe Diamond Queen is narrated by BBC newsman and commentator, Andrew Marr, who has the most elastic face I’ve ever seen. I was always a big fan of his insight and opinions when I lived in the UK, so it’s fun to see him on this video… even if he does look like Opie.AndrewMarr460But he’s balanced by HM The Queen in her bright colours, beautiful jewels and measured tones. Not only does Marr talk about The Queen’s life, but he also delves into what she actually does.The Diamond Queen He interviews HM’s children and grandchildren, including Princes Harry and William. He talks to Prime Ministers and heads of state who give personal insight on her impact.

The Diamond Queen will be airing on BBC America on June 3, and The Queen’s Palaces was released May 29th. But I have a copy of each to give away. Just leave a comment telling why you admire HM The Queen and I will pick a winner on Thursday, May 31, and mail the DVD’s out on June 1, so you can watch them during the Diamond Jubilee Weekend. (US readers only!)

There will be downloads, great images, fun facts and more during the rest of this Diamond Jubilee Week on Pigtown*Design. Stay tuned!

Poking Around

You know that there is nothing I like better than poking around. It doesn’t matter if it’s some ratty old thrift shop, or a neighbourhood in Baltimore that I want to explore. You never know what you will discover while you’re poking around. It could be a great ironstone platter, or a terrific building. Oliver StreetPal David and I did some poking around late Monday afternoon, and I saw this gem.  I am completely in love with the windows and doors on the brick building.

May 28, 2012

Then & Now

My friends over on Baltimore Fishbowl just posted a piece about the house where I grew up, and the people who are living there now. We lived in this house for about 30 years and sold it in the late 1990’s. It was such a gorgeous house and property, so it’s fun to see the changes that have occurred.

Here is a reminder of what the house looks like from the front when we lived there, in the spring10413and in the depths of winter, 1041and from the back.104

THEN:  The house had a huge front porch, with Mexican terracotta tiles, a long stone wall and plenty of flowers.1046

1045NOW:new 104

THEN: The front hall was filled with oriental rugs, perfect for rolling back to practice The Shag with friends.10412

Here’s a detail of the column cap.104 1

NOW: new 104 6 THEN: The dining room with its hand-printed Chinese wallpaper and curtains.10411

Here’s a detail of the wallpaper. 104 2

This is the picture that I have as the wallpaper on my laptop.10415

NOW:new 104 4

THEN: The living room with its mahogany chimney breast and stone faces.10410Here’s a detail of one of the stone faces.104 8

NOW:new 104 2

THEN: The landing between the first and second floors. We had a coat of arms in the windows, and removed it when we left.1048


There are more images of the house on Fishbowl, but these are the only ones I have of the same rooms.

May 27, 2012

Memorial Day Monday

It’s the Memorial Day holiday here in the US. I hope that you have lots of fun things planned for today.

Me? I will be replacing all of the blinds that Connor’s pulled down recently, adding lots of items to my Etsy shop, and taking it easy.


May 24, 2012

Weapon of Mass Destruction

What I didn’t know when I came home from dinner last night was that Connor had virtually destroyed my bedroom and work room windows. Or rather, he’d torn down the curtains in my bedroom and chewed off the windowsill, which, luckily, came off in two large pieces. He pulled down the curtains with such zeal that the curtain rods were bent and broken.

In the workroom, where I have a bamboo blind, he’d completely torn that up, and knocked everything off the shelves in front of the window, scattering them around the room.I was really too distraught to take any pictures, and in addition, I was totally freaked out, since I had received a text during dinner, which I hadn’t seen until I was driving home. It was from my neighbour telling me that she could see Connor frantically clawing at the windows and barking. We’re heading to the vet, and I have ordered something called Composure, which comes highly recommended by Halas and his mom and dad. Honestly, I am at the end of my rope. I can’t not go out, and I can’t leave Connor home alone. I don’t want to put him in day care, since this mostly happens in the evenings. We do have a walker who comes at random times during the week. I can’t be constantly worried about how he’s torn my house apart, what damage there is, and whether he’s hurt. I have too much else to worry about right now.

And I can’t give him away.

May 23, 2012

Bling It

I had dinner with pal David this evening, and reminded him that I wanted to look at some fun crystals for my new chandelier while I was at his workshop.He pulled out two huge tubs of crystals and told me to take what I wanted/needed. So I grabbed a couple of hands full of crystals, not even bothering to count out how many I needed (17). I got a bunch of baguette shaped ones, that I will hang from each arm, and some octagonal ones in strings that I will drape between the arms. The octagonal pieces range from about an inch to a half an inch, and are in graduated sizes. I found one extra long baguette that I might hang from the bottom center. I love the piece above… It looks like it could be an earring, doesn’t it? Might be heavy though.I think this will be a project for the long weekend. And if I need more, it’s not like David’s short on crystals!  Thanks, pal!