November 29, 2012

Holiday Crafts This Weekend

Baltimore is a great place for artists, for two main reasons: It’s an inexpensive place to live and have a studio, and it’s home to one of the best art schools, Maryland Institute College of Art, or MICA. Many artists who come here to go to school, stay here because of the arts community and the support they get.

This weekend, many of the local artists and crafts people will be showing their wares at two big shows. On Saturday, December 1, it’s the Holiday Heap of Craft, which I attended last year with Mary from Barn Bug Studio. It’s held in an old church which is now an event space, and it is jam packed. In fact, it was hard to see things last year because it was so crowded. imageThe event is hosted by the local Etsy Street Team and the Charm City Craft Mafia. Details are here.

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On Sunday, the Creative Alliance is hosting the Merry Mart.image

The Creative Alliance is located in an old theatre in the Highlandtown neighborhood in Baltimore. Just so you can pronounce it correctly, it’s “Hollandtown”, hon. imageMerry Mart will be held on Sunday, December 2 from 11:00 to 5:00. Information and bios of the vendors are here.

If you really want to shop locally this year, a crafts fair is the place to do it. You’re supporting local artists and craftspeople and helping them do what they love.

November 28, 2012

Royal Copenhagen Christmas Tables

Each year, Royal Copenhagen invites Danish designers to come to their flagship store in Copenhagen and decorate tables for Christmas. This year’s theme is Christmas songs, and they will be having six Danish vocalists will be interpreting their favourite holiday songs. I wrote about another year’s tables here.imageThis year’s tables range from the rustic to the sophisticated. I love how the table above even uses rough flooring to set the scene.

Here are the other tables.

Julie Berthelsen designed this to reflect the cold of Greenland.berthelsen2

Marie Carmen Koppel took her inspiration from a classic Danish Christmas carol.koppel2

Actress, singer and director Hella Joof has put together a rustic table for Christmas.joof2

Anne Dorthe Michelsen has put together a table that describes the light in the dark.michelsen2

The singer Cæcilie Norby has put together a table illustrating togetherness, tradition and music at the head of the table norby2and cooking is central to the celebration.norby1

Singer Caroline Henderson’s Christmas table celebrates her Swedish roots which meet the magnificence of Paris and New York.henderson2

You can see a short video of the tables being set here.

Which table do you like the most?

November 27, 2012

Quiz Time!

I love these quick quizzes that promise to tell you who your first lady style twin is (!) or what your decorating choices say about you. So how could I resist sharing a quiz that promises to tell you which royal palace is your dream home. Hmmmm.image

“Have you dreamed of living in a luxurious palace, surrounded by rolling hills, with a team of servants at your beck and call? Take our quiz and find out what real-life palace is your dream home. From Monaco to Brunei, there is a royal mansion for every taste!”imageOf course, I am suspicious of any quiz that includes Diva as one of the personalities you can choose from. image

And, I might have rigged the answers slightly to get this:

Your Dream Palace Is Windsor Castle

You are traditional, sensible and family-oriented, like England’s Queen Elizabeth. It’s no surprise that your dream home is Windsor Castle, the monarch’s official weekend residence. This medieval castle sits in the British countryside and is the longest-occupied palace castle in Europe. You’ll enjoy exploring the rolling hills and the palace architecture; if you’re feeling spiritual, you can head to the castle’s 15th-century chapel. A bonus: You might bump into Prince William and his beloved Kate when you’re strolling the grounds!

Been there, done that. But I guess that these people don’t know that there’s a difference between a castle and a palace. Castles are for defending the territory, and palaces are for living in.

I {Heart} Cashmere!

Right before I left for college, a friend of my mother’s gave me some hand-me-down cashmere sweaters, and I’ve been in love ever since. It’s gotten to the point where I can no longer wear wool sweaters – except an old one someone’s gran in Ireland made that I bought at a carboot sale in Wales for about 50p. imageI have two big cashmere throws that I wrap up in when I take an afternoon nap. One’s cream and one’s French blue. imageLast summer, when I moved into my 110-year old farm house, I neglected to re-pack my sweater collection which I had accumulated over several years. The moths got into the sweaters and I was furious that I’d let that happen. But, ever the optimist, I decided to take the sweaters and remake them into something useful. I’ve been cutting them up and remaking them into patchwork scarves.

As you might have gathered, one of my favourite ways to spend an afternoon is to “poke around”.  During my travels, I always check the sweater section and look for cashmere sweaters. And it’s quite amazing how often I pick up one or two… or more. sweaters (1)I make a habit of never paying more than about $5.00 for one, although I have gotten them for as little as $.79! Most have a hole or two, which doesn’t bother me, because I can cut around them. And most of them are “name brand” sweaters, some even of great Scottish cashmere.sweaters (8) I wash them in special cashmere wash from The Laundress in New York. And then I chuck them in the dryer, because I don’t care if they shrink, which they don’t, because cashmere doesn’t felt like wool.

My favourite part of the process is putting together the colours to make each scarf. sweaters (5)The scarf on the left was built around a blue sweater with a grey Fair Isle pattern, so I used a white cable knit sweater, and two grey ones. The scarf on the right was built around the pink paisley and so I used moss green, celadon green, pink and white sweaters.

For this scarf, sweaters (6)I used a hot pink and pale tan striped scarf as the base and then added more hot pink and tan, as well as some baby pink. sweaters (7)I pin everything together and then sew it. sweaters (4)Then I press the edges to block the scarf into the shape I want. The scarves are usually about six inches by six feet. Except for this one, which I made in navy blue and white for my cousin Chris whose school colours at Oxford are navy and white, and is about eight feet long.sweaters (2)

I am selling the scarves through With Gratitude in Baltimore, and will eventually put some on my Etsy Shop. sweaters (9)Look for them on the right sidebar. ---> Over that way.

November 25, 2012

Jewelry by Angela Caputi

My house was robbed right after I moved back to Baltimore, and all of my jewelry was stolen. All of the good stuff, since I’d gotten rid of all of the junky jewelry before I moved to the UK, was gone. Since then, I’ve limited myself to very little jewelry, just some earrings, a bracelet or two and a few necklaces. I have a residual fear of being robbed again and losing everything I’ve collected.

But this weekend, I saw some jewelry that might make me change my mind. It’s not “real” jewelry, but it’s fun and it’s priced well. It’s by the Italian designer, Angela Caputi. imageMy friend Jonathan discovered her in Florence this summer. He’s always on the lookout for interesting and unique pieces for his shop, Halcyon House Antiques, and when he spotted this one evening while window shopping, he had to go back and see if he could order it for the shop.Most of the pieces are resin and they’re assembled at the shop in Italy and come in a range of colours, including the gorgeous coral red above, as well as tortoise shell, a steel blue, and also a wonderful celadon, and these blacks and whites, and ivories. I like big, chunky jewelry, because small delicate jewelry just gets lost on me. These are fun, statement pieces, and they are marked at a great price point. Some of the pieces are designed to be worn several ways, making them versatile for a number of outfits.I can clearly see some of these pieces in my immediate future. I especially love the chains. Classic!

To order, please contact Eric at Halcyon House Antiques. Here.

November 23, 2012

Small Business Saturday

I am a huge supporter of small businesses, especially small shops, as many of my friends own one. I probably do 80% of my shopping at non-chain stores. I like that my money stays in the community and provides support locally. shop locallyI thought I’d do a run through of some of my favourite small businesses, in and around Baltimore.

With Gratitude – A gift shop with a varied selection of gifts, jewelry and art, mostly made by small local artisans.image

Halcyon House Antiques – Elegant home accessories, jewelry and interior decorating services. I want every.single.thing.there.image

The House Downtown – Great home furnishings, accessories and home design. image

Housewerks – Architectural Antiques and Salvageimage

The Ivy Bookshop – An independent bookstore with a wide range of titles and a friendly, helpful staff.image

Trohv – Quirky and original home goods.image

Tone-on-Tone – Elegant Swedish Antiques in Bethesdaimage

I hope that you will take advantage of the goods and services at your local small businesses. They want your business!

November 22, 2012

NO Black Friday

The very idea of shopping on Black Friday is anathema to me, and I could no more imaging doing this than jumping off a cliff. I realize that Black Friday shopping is a sport to some people and they get a kick out of waiting in line all night, pushing and shoving people and scrambling for the best bargains. no black friday

I will be at home recovering from an excellent dinner with friends and then having a great lunch with other friends down from New York.

As I mentioned, I made mini-apple pies, which turned out well. I ended up chopping the apples and cranberries in the Cuisinart to make them small enough for the pies. I also made mincemeat tarts, which I wasn’t sure if people would like, but they certainly did. tart1I used a tart pan and put rounds of pastry into the cups. Then I filled each cup with mincemeat and cut out a snowflake shape in pastry and placed it on top. tart2I think that they turned out rather nicely! We had them with some nice sharp cheddar cheese.

I also made the semi-famous Oysters Jeff-a-Peake, which have been a hit on my FB page. I should have taken some pictures of them, but didn’t remember.

Oysters Jeff-a-Peake

  • Shucked and Drained Oysters
  • Bacon
  • Chopped Onions
  • Grated Cheese

Place several oysters, depending on their size, in a lightly greased muffin tin. Add about a third of a slice of uncooked bacon, some chopped onions, and cover with shredded cheese. We use mozzarella, but I think cheddar would also work. Bake until cheese is melted in a 450* oven. Dip in BBQ sauce or eat plain.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!


November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope that you take a few minutes to think about all that you’re thankful for. Regardless of what’s happening in your life, good or bad, there are always things that we can find to be thankful for.

Sunny dayssundogsOur four seasonsred tree (3)Good and plentiful food on the tableFamily, especially this Thanksgiving, my dear niece Eliza (left)IMG_7515Good and great friends, both old and new, especially everyone whom I’ve met through the blog!dinner

As my tagline says, The difference between an ordinary life and an extraordinary life is finding extraordinary things in an ordinary life. Take time to give thanks for all of the ordinary things in your extraordinary life on this Thanksgiving. Thank you for reading Pigtown*Design!