December 6, 2017

Picking A Wreath

For many years, I made my wreaths by hand, picking magnolia and boxwood branches and trying to fashion them into an amazing artistic expression. Mostly, it went okay, but with much sweating and swearing. My ambitions and aspirations are great, but my talent is limited.

I think that this was a cheapie wreath from Ikea with a ton of boxwood tucked in behind it.image

My friend, Andrea, is a master of wreath-making!image

I bought a bunch of pheasant feathers last year, and think they make a great addition to a wreath.image

I did this one year. I collected tons and tons of vintage ornaments and glue-gunned them to a wreath form. Hung it on my front door.
Then it rained, all the glue dissolved and the ornaments fell off. I was broken-hearted.image

I really love magnolia leaf wreaths, but I might embellish this a little more.image

Like this one with some gilded leaves and a few tiny lights.image

In a fit of insanity one year, I made this cranberry wreath. It was gorgeous but I don’t know if the glue-gun burns were worth the effort.image

It’s always fun to collect pinecones on a fall walk in the woods. image

Last year, I bought Williams-Sonoma’s jingle bell wreath. This year, I think I will re-visit it with some sprigs of boxwood surrounding it.image

November 21, 2017

Lunchtime Safari

Luckily, my office is in the center of the city, and I always try and get out for a bit during lunch, just to clear my head and get some fresh air. I can get almost anywhere in the city and back during my lunch hour, so I set a goal of a building to see or a neighbourhood to explore and see what I can get done.

I’ve hashtagged images from lunch as #LunchtimeSafari, so that I can easily access them on Instagram, although some other people have snuck theirs in as well! Take a look…

A dramatic sky and a little photo-editing combined to make this moody photo.image

I stumbled across this gorgeous Georgian-style school building, only to find out later that it’s by the same architecture firm that designed my offices in 1909. image

Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that this is also Ellicott & Emmart, the architects of our building. image

Speaking of which, this is my offices, built in 1909 and overseen by our ghost, Marcia. IMG_0004

St. Katherine’s Church looks like it belongs in a country village, not the heart of the city.image

I just found this Italianate villa, perched on the top of a hill overlooking Baltimore. image

This is part of the Montebello Water Filtration plant. I love the Moorish look that this has.image

This is on the same property. I think it would make an amazing house!image

The old Beaux Arts Congress Hotel. image

I love discovering new-to-me buildings, and revisiting old buildings that I’ve known for years. Thanks for coming along!

November 13, 2017

Team Tea Caddy

For the past few months, I’ve been working on a project with two friends: the exhibition “As Precious As Gold: The History of Tea Caddies from the Bramble Collection.” Since that’s a bit of a mouthful, we call ourselves Team Tea Caddy because each of us has had a critical part in putting together the exhibition, which opened last week at Homewood House & Museum in Baltimore: Mark Bramble is the collector, Stiles Colwill is the curator and I am the tech support, photographer, scribe and general dogsbody.image

In the early 1700’s, tea was as precious as gold, and was parsed out in small batches, and kept in a place of honour in the home, often under lock and key. imageThe journey from China to England, Europe and America was long and arduous and so tea was quite expensive when it reached its final destination. And today, after water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world.

If you were affluent enough to have tea, you stored it in decorative containers that would be brought to table and the hostess would mix the tea with hot water in the presence of her guests. imageThe word “caddy” comes from the Malay Chinese “kati,” which means a measure of tea weighing about a pound and one-third. By the second half of the 18th century, tea mania had taken hold in Europe and especially in England where it was all the rage.image Of all the different items used in the tea service, the caddy is the object upon which craftsmen and artists lavished their greatest skills and materials.image

Mark Bramble, who is a Broadway author and director, has traveled the world with his shows, and that’s given him the opportunity to also scour antique shops and markets searching for tea caddies.imageHe took over the collection from his mother after her death and has made it into one of the best and most extensive in the world.

Because he wanted to share his knowledge with the world, in conjunction with the exhibit, Mark has also published an accompanying book, A Tea Caddy Collection. image

On Thursday, November 16, a reception, tour, book talk and signing will be held at Homewood House and Remsen Hall at Johns Hopkins. imageMark will discuss his multi-generational collection as well as stories of how and where he found some of the caddies and the history of tea and tea caddies.image

The event is free, but you must make a reservation here. I know that it will be an amazing evening and you won’t want to miss how beautiful these caddies look in a historic house of the same period. I hope to see you there!

November 6, 2017

Dinner in the Barn

On Saturday night, I was lucky enough to be invited to “dinner in the barn”, which, on first thought sounds like it might be a hoe-down or a square dance. But I assure you, it was neither. Okay, I concede the food was country-like with amazing fried chicken and a delicious cobbler, but everything else was more elegant than most people’s homes!IMG_5768

The barn is a big rectangle, and in three of the corners, little gathering areas had been set up to have a cozy chat with a few friends. IMG_5786

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There were seven tables, ranging from six to twelve seats at each. Seating was a combination of Chippendale-style chairs, small love seats, benches, and casual bamboo and cane chairs at each table. Old chairs had all been re-covered with fabrics in a variety of brown and green prints, some the reverse of others. IMG_5764IMG_5773IMG_5779IMG_5791

Many of the tables had the same cloth, but all had the same china, silver and glassware. The centerpieces varied wildly – one had a classical staircase in the center, IMG_5769another had a rosemary plant, IMG_5776and a third had a small farm scene. IMG_5784

The walls were lined literally from floor to ceiling with artwork the hosts had collected over the years. The pictures ranged from early 19th century architectural plans to an assortment of male nudes (my view at dinner!). Small vignettes of farm life dotted the tables, like this one of the farm’s two pet steers, Alexander and Napoleon. IMG_5815

Despite the heaving rain outside, the inside of the barn was warm and cozy, lit by iron chandeliers hanging from the rafters, table lamps on many surfaces, and dozens of battery-powered candles scattered everywhere. IMG_5775

All in all, it was a great celebration of the opening of our friend’s tea caddy exhibition and the publication of his accompanying book… more on this in the next post.

November 2, 2017

The Holidays

It is absolutely SHOCKING that it is November! I am in the run up to the last of the three major events in three weeks, with the opening of the Tea Caddy Exhibition at Homewood House in Baltimore previewing this weekend. Here is just one of the 23 cases! (more on these next week!) imageAnd since it’s November already, you and I, and everyone else we know are thinking about presents for our friends and family. Last year, I had dozens and dozens of orders for my tea towels. So I wanted to take the opportunity to remind you that if you’re interested in purchasing tea towels for this year’s holiday season, I need your orders by November 20th. This will allow plenty of time for ordering, fabricating, and shipping. And remember, the tea towels, especially those with maps, can be customized with a specific location. blog

And of course, for everyone in and around Maryland, this is the most popular of the tea towels. maryland crab

To order tea towels as well as the other one-of-a-kind items on my Etsy shop, click the link!

October 24, 2017

Halloween

It’s really amazing what a HUGE event Halloween has become. I think that it’s now second only to Christmas in terms of buying and decorating. But it’s really easy to go overboard and veer into the tacky category of decorating.

If I had children, I am sure I’d put a lot more effort into decorating for Halloween than I do now. Having access to old medical books and their scary illustrations would make a perfect launching point for a line of Halloween decorations. deformed spine

However, I thought I’d share some of the prettier and more elegant decorations I’ve found.

My friend Loi at Tone on Tone has Halloween down to an elegant science.image

Black rails + orange pumpkins + white stairs = Perfectionimage

All you need to make these is a drill.image

You knew I’d have a dome in this collection!image

Spiderweb tableclothimage

Oh, look! More domes.image

If you’re going to have spiders, make them elegant!image

Wine bottles spray-painted matte and gloss black, with black candles. image

A good use for the antique apothecary bottle I found earlier this year.image

Because of the big tea caddy exhibition I am working on that starts on November 4th, I am probably not even going to be home on Halloween. I usually just leave a big bowl of candy, and I have to say, it’s usually got a few pieces left when I get home.