January 9, 2017

Elevenses

When I lived in the UK, at 11:00 every day, the whole place would take a break for tea, which was called “elevenses”. As an American who was used to working through lunch most days, this was a novelty! We also took an office-wide break at 3:00-ish for coffee. image

This blog is your elevenses – a short break for light refreshment. Shockingly, this is my 11th year of blogging. I am as curious about things as I was 11 years ago when I sat down to write my first blog post.  In the early days, I wrote about John Derian, Scalamandre fabrics, tea, copper pots and pans and one of my favourite shops:V.V. Rouleaux, the amazing ribbon shop near Sloane Square in London. image

So, you can see that the things I do and I write about are still as eclectic as ever! After spending several days down with a stomach bug, I did some exploring this weekend and discovered this gorgeous old pumping station in Baltimore.image I should do a series of pictures about the pumping stations in Baltimore, as some are quite lovely!

January is already shaping up to be a busy month, with lots going on at work, including a quick refreshment of our largest room. We added trim and re-hung the painting collection, including a few gathered from other parts of the building. We still have a few things to do, but the improvement in this room is 100%!IMG_5013

While we were working on that, one of the workmen opened a display cabinet for me. I pondered how to open it for three years, and discovered that the panel of glass in front slides up and down, just like a guillotine! The cabinet holds what we call our “Napoleon Chest” and I will write about it later. But here’s just a sneak peek of what is inside!image

Stay tuned!

December 28, 2016

2016 Wrap-Up

You might have noticed that I’ve cut way down on blogging this year. After more than 2,400 posts, and ten (!) years of blogging almost full time – for years, I wrote five times a week – I have found that it is hard to find the time to devote to blogging. I love the community of it, the friends that I’ve made and the experiences I’ve had. But the thought that I had to find a topic, gather images, do the research and then the writing, just got too overwhelming and so I made the decision to slow down. In 2017, I am going to aim to write once a week, and I hope that you will still follow along.

I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite posts of the past year, most of which were crowd faves, too!

First up, the new dog. After losing Connor about 14 months earlier, I found adorable little Figue, a Yorkie mixed with some other things, possibly including poodle. imageShe is so completely and totally different from Connor as to be an entirely new species! She is silly and funny, and fast as lightning. She adores riding in the car, sticking her head out the window, and barking like mad when I stop!image

In the spring, I took my longest vacation in ages – two full weeks in the UK, with stops in London, imageWales imageand the Cotswolds. image

The weeks were enlivened by wonderful visits with family and friends, and the discovery of G&T in cans!image

In September, my friends at Halcyon House Antiques hosted a pop-up shop for me, which was loads of fun. image

I had made some tea-towels as a one-off for the pop-up and the idea has turned out to be phenomenally successful and I had to hire someone to help me hem the towels!image

I am so lucky to have friends with an amazing cutting garden, and every other weekend during the summer, I get a bucket full of flowers. I have such fun arranging them in the myriad vessels in my collection, regardless of whether vase it the original purpose or not!imageimageimageimage

I want to personally thank you for reading Pigtown*Design, and hope that you enjoy it. I always love to read comments and try to respond to each one. Thanks!

December 21, 2016

Bits & Pieces

This year, Christmas and Hanukkah begin at the same time. Are you ready? I am kind of ready… I still have a few loose ends to tie up and then I am good to go. Luckily, I have a few days off, so if anything arises, I have the time. Although I don’t decorate much, I love looking at what others have done with their homes.

Here are some things I am thinking about this season.

  • I love the little copper wire lights that seem to be everywhere now. I got some last winter at Terrain and have added them to my collection (of three) domes. I aspire to have as many domes as this!image
  • I’ve finally gotten the last of the tea-towels mailed. For something I did on a whim, it turned out to be quite a successful project! Thanks to everyone who bought one… or more!maryland crab small
  • I had bought two huge bunches of magnolia branches with the intention of doing some decorating with them, but we had a hard frost and they all turned black. So I just stuck the branches in the urns outside my house. I like this idea. imageBut this would have been the reality!image
  • One thing I love about this time of year is miniature mincemeat tarts. My father used to make pies and tarts with mincemeat, and it’s such a huge reminder of him and our Christmas-time as children. image
  • I am really hoping that Figue cooperates and gets in the Christmas spirit. I tried taking pictures of her wrapped in little lights, and she was having NONE of that. image

What’s on your agenda for the next week or so?

December 16, 2016

Instagram: Weekend in NYC and More

Between work, parties and events and a weekend away, the past few weeks have been crazy. But I am sure that’s the case with you, too!

I was lucky enough to be invited up to NYC for a quick weekend and I stayed at a friend’s family’s apartment on the Upper East Side. It was a low key weekend with shopping, a quiet Saturday night and Sunday morning, more shopping and then a pretty easy drive home.

This is the cozy nook that was my room for the weekend. It’s between a church and a school, and you can just see a bit of the stained glass through the window.image

One of our first stops was Creel & Gow, a little treasure chest of all things weird and wonderful. It brought back fun memories of the late shop, The House of Beauty & Culture in London.image

The barware selection at Hadley Antiques. LOVED everything!image

Moonrise over Long Island City.image

More of the apartment in NYC. Two views of the dining room.

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The library. image

The owner’s collection of greyhounds.image

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

There is a grove of Japanese maples near my house. Every autumn, it puts on a stunning show.image

The kick off to the Festive Season is always the lighting of the Washington Monument in Baltimoreimage

Some pretty from the party after the lighting.image

Baltimore City Hall at twilight.image

Cozy nestimage

My favourite vistaimage

All for now! Have a great weekend!

December 7, 2016

Giving for the Holidays

My family has an interesting way of doing gifts at Christmas. We choose a letter, this year’s is D, and then we pick names. Everyone has to get something beginning with the chosen letter. Sometimes it’s pretty easy, like the year we had P, but D seems a bit harder. We also try and limit the amount you can spend, so you have to be creative in a number of ways.

I though I’d try and round up some fun suggestions under $50 you to consider. First of all, I love giving books as presents. I can usually find a book, new or old, that matches the recipient’s interests. This year, I love Julia Reed's South, her newest book. It’s funny with great recipes, and the photography is gorgeous.image

One thing that I like to do is give a gorgeous jar of small batch jam, preserves or mustard, along with a beautiful spoon or knife. It’s even better if you’ve made the jam yourself, but a high-quality, gourmet jar will do. Of course, I would have polished the spoon!image

Who doesn’t love a nice candle! There are plenty of great brands with the $50 range, and it’s all about what you’re looking for. Some of the classic brands like Diptyque and Jo Malone have small candles which aren’t too expensive, or you could go with Votivo, Nest, Thymes or even Williams-Sonoma candles. My perennial favourite is Thymes Frasier Fir. image

I love presents which I know the recipient would never give themselves, like some whimsey from Williams-Sonoma. One of the most fun ideas is a mini-blow torch! I’ve served crรจme brulee at dinner parties and then let everyone caramelize their own dessert. Who doesn’t love playing with fire at dinner?image

Ogden Nash once said, “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker” and there’s still truth to that. A box of great chocolates is always welcome. I like finding a great local chocolatier and then picking up a box. image

Or if you know what the recipient drinks, pick up a bottle. I guarantee that it will a welcome gift.

I’d love to hear your suggestions!

December 2, 2016

Decorating for the Festive Season

When I lived in the UK, the train stations used to advertise the train times for “The Festive Season”, thereby encompassing all of the myriad holidays that fall this time of the year. I have incorporated that phrase into my thinking, in part, because I am not a huge fan of red and green Christmas decorations.

I love looking through the UK’s House & Garden magazine’s ideas for alternate holiday decorations, and thought I’d share some of them with you, like I did last year!

Stick stickers back-to-back on string and then hang them everywhere. I’ve done this on my all-purpose gardenia, which serves as my de facto Christmas tree. image

You can even use little triangles or squares for the garlands. This is great for kids to help with.image

Taking things one step further, you could adorn the trim with stick-on gold foil dots!image

The amazing Ben Pentreath has decorated his country house with wonderful greenery. I especially live the single ball hanging from the ceiling.image

Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and other grocery stores often have table-top trees, which are simple to decorate.image

And why stop at one tree?image

Craft stores often have bags of pompoms and you could use them to decorate a tree.image

Although stringing little bells on a chain might be a chore, you could put them onto a brighly coloured ribbon, knotting at each bell. image

A winter walk in the woods might yield a great branch that you could use to decorate. Use those great little copper wire fairy lights to light the tree and then tiny balls to make it sparkle.image

Or maybe a bough of fir with tiny ornaments strung from bright ribbons.image

I love the idea of massing bright balls down the center of the table. It would also look amazing with low candles interspersed throughout.image

How do you decorate for the Festive Season? I’d love to know.