May 24, 2017

#ThisisBaltimore: Spring Edition

We haven’t had a #ThisisBaltimore post for a while, and now that spring has sprung and it’s fully bloomed out, it’s time to show you spring in Baltimore!

In March, I taught my iPhone photography class, and just before I did, I upgraded my phone to a 7+, which I love. It has dual lenses to take some really cool portrait photographs, so I’ve had a great time playing around with it. Also, in the few weeks before the class, I really worked on editing my images with SnapSeed, an amazing (but non-intuitive) photo editing app from Google. Some of the results are shown below!

The wooden chapel at Crimea, Leakin Park, Baltimoreimage

A.T. Jones Costumers, a long-time Baltimore institution.image

DLA Piper building, designed by local architect, Charlie Brickbauerimage

First race of the season – Green Spring Houndsimage

Brooklyn Park Water Tank – it has more than 20 different shades of brick.image

Ingram Manor, a beautiful 1920’s apartment house.image

Cloud Computing after the morning gallops at Pimlicoimage

Short & Sweet peony season.image

A long-time Baltimore tradition.image

Thanks for following along!

May 17, 2017

Peony Time!

It's the most wonderful time of the year! The peonies are blooming and they are just stunning. I think that peonies are one of my favourite blooms, and I always take advantage of their short season to get as many as I can.

Luckily, I have friends and neighbours who are willing to share their bounty with me, and if that fails, I can usually find them, during the season, at Whole Foods.

This year, my next-door neighbour's peonies are blooming away, but the ones at my friends' farm, just 15 miles to the north, are still mostly in tight bud stage. 

But the few that were out when I was there yesterday were stunning. We are having an event on Thursday, so I only took pictures of the peonies at the farm, and didn't cut any. 

Although the season is short, my appreciation of these stunning flowers is vast. 

And, as I said, I am lucky to have friends and neighbours who are willing and happy to share!

May 11, 2017

It's a Madcap World...

I was so pleased to attend the grand re-opening of the local Calico (no longer Calico Corners) store, which featured two design friends: Jason Oliver Nixon and John Locke, the gents from Madcap Cottage! I had met the two of them several years ago in High Point, and in a major coincidence, Jason's sister and I live in the same neighbourhood in Baltimore!

Jason and John's trademark style is bright and exuberant.
This was immediately apparent by the blazers they were wearing - made from their own fabrics and piped with bright trim.

John & Jason gave a nice talk about how to layer fabrics so that they don't look like a mish-mash, but a comprehensive whole. 

I fell in love with one of their fabrics, which you can see on the left - the green one. It's called Mocambo and it comes in several lush colourways. All of the fabrics are designed and drawn by John & Jason, and invoke places they've been and things that they love. Many are named after country houses and gardens in England.

As part of the opening festivities, Calico hosted several drawings for pillows made from Madcap's fabrics, two custom designed pillows and a beautiful wing chair with several of the fabrics from their collection. 

I was thrilled to be the winner of two custom-designed pillows and had the fun experience of picking out which of their many fabrics I wanted. As I mentioned, I was drawn to this print called Mocambo. 

I really had a hard time deciding which colourway, and what to pair it with. But after a bit lot of thought, I decided on these two.

I loved the little ginkgo print called Howard's End, and loved how well it paired with the Mocambo both in colour and scale. I am so excited about this and can't wait to get them.

Thanks so much to Calico and Madcap Cottage for a fun evening!

May 3, 2017

Mint Juleps for Derby Day

These drinking weekends are coming fast and furious, with the Hunt Cup last weekend and the Kentucky Derby this weekend. 

I am going to a birthday party on Saturday and texted the host to remind him that it was also Derby Day, and we've all watched the race together for the past few years. Should I bring my julep cups and some mint? I knew that he had plenty of bourbon on hand (Maker's Mark is the house brand), but lacked cups. Of course, he replied.

So, I hunted up the julep cups that I now have and began the process of polishing them.

Sad story: my silver cups, one of which I received each year, for a number of years, were stolen right after I moved back to the States, so I just have odd ones from Williams-Sonoma and other places. Unfortunately, Williams-Sonoma is no longer selling the ones I liked.

This year, I actually have enough mint that I can cannibalize my mint plants without worrying that I will kill them. So, julep cups and mint. That's my contribution to the party, because the host said no gifts. 

Here's the recipe, in case you'd like to try it at home: 

Make a simple syrup by boiling two cups of sugar and two cups of water together for five minutes. Cool, and place in a covered container with six or so springs of fresh mint and then refrigerate overnight. Put a few mint leaves and a little bit of sugar in the bottom of a julep cup and muddle the mint and sugar, releasing the essential oils. Fill the cup with crushed ice. My feeling is that the ice that comes out of the fridge is too coarse, and needs to be smaller. Add a tablespoon of the simple syrup and bourbon. Stir to frost the outside of the cup and garnish with a sprig of mint. 

April 27, 2017

"What Fresh Hell Is This?"

The title is one of my favourite quotes from the late, great writer and poet, Dorothy Parker. As part of my #ThisIsBaltimore2017 quest, I decided to go find her grave. And yes, she is interred here in Baltimore!

In her will, she specified that her ashes, and her estate be given to Martin Luther Kings, and if he was deceased, to the NAACP, which is headquartered here in Baltimore. Lillian Hellman was the executor of her estate, and thought that Dorothy should have left her literary rights to her, and so after Parker's death, she really held up publishing permissions. 

And the ashes remained in a drawer of a filing cabinet for 15 years after Parker's death. A small site in the back of the HQ building was cleared and a circle of bricks and stones was laid, in homage to the famed Algonquin Roundtable. 

I knew some of this, so decided to go find the grave. I was very disappointed to find it in the back of the building, with broken cement benches scattered around, a tipped over plant laying on top of the plaque and the whole site in general disrepair. If I had a broom with me, I would have cleaned it up a bit, but alas...

The NAACP is her literary agent, and I am sure they get a significant sum from acting as such. The least they could do is care for Dorothy Parker's final resting place. 

April 18, 2017

Spring in the City

So sorry for the lack of recent posts. I am still having problems with the platform I use to post, and I absolutely hate posting through the blogger platform because it doesn't format correctly! Ugh.

Anyway... spring has finally arrived in Baltimore, better late than never. And it's simply glorious here. It's hard to see, but the hedge in front of the carriage house is all lilacs! 
Figue and I took a walk with our friends MacKenzie and Andrea through the gorgeous Sherwood Gardens, one of Baltimore's most beautiful public spaces. Andrea tried to bribe Figue to stop barking with a treat...

The tulips at Sherwood Gardens are at their peak this week, aided by 80* temperatures on Easter. 

And the gardens are surrounded by some of the most beautiful and elegant houses in Baltimore, so a walk through the area yields some great architectural treats.

In addition to seeing flowers in public spaces, I've been lucky enough to get some spring flowers for my house. My neighbours have two camellias and told me to help myself to some of them. I was sure I was being greedy taking four of them, but they assured me I wasn't!

And then the gal who helps me with my sewing told me to cut some of the lilacs in her front yard. So I did! These are the deepest purple, rather than the paler purple that you see more often. 

Last week, fellow blogger, The Devoted Classicist was in Baltimore to give a lecture at the esteemed Evergreen House. Last month's lecture took place a day after a snowstorm, but spring is in full effect now. 

One of the things I adore about this time of year is the soft light, and the soft evening air. I took this just before the lecture, and think this is emblematic of a spring evening in Baltimore. 

I am so glad spring is here and hope that it doesn't get too hot too quickly!

April 3, 2017

Off to the Races

Ever since I was a child, I've been attending the steeplechase horse races just north of Baltimore. They take place in the spring and fall, and this past weekend was the beginning of the 2017 series of spring races. I was lucky enough to be given a pass for the races, and especially lucky, since it was on Founders Hill, with a great view of the finish line. 

Although the day was overcast, and we'd had more than an inch of rain the day before, the field was perfect for the horses - very soft, with a lot of fresh grass. 

A few local friends, as well as friends visiting from Atlanta, joined me for the races, and soon more friends found us, and we joined forces and food to have a great afternoon.

First up are the pony races with the kids on board. They are lead around the course, complete with jumps, by a field master, and then at the last straight-away to the finish line, they're cut loose to go as fast as they can. It's such fun to see the traditions continue with the younger generations.
You can just glimpse me and my handsome date, just between the two jockeys, who are about 14 years old!

Because it wasn't sunny and warm, only the most die-hard race fans came out to watch, and almost everyone was wearing a version of the same thing: corduroys, sweaters, down or wool vests, barn coats or Barbour jackets and a hat!

We packed a picnic of fried chicken, crudite and some other things, but decided not to day drink as we were headed to a cocktail party after the races. But our friends brought some booze, so we indulged.

The spring card of races continues for the next four Saturdays, and tickets, which are required, can be purchased through the Maryland Steeplechase Association

My great thanks to Mike Wharton who did an exemplary job organizing the races for the Green Spring Point-to-Point, and for including me in the day!

March 29, 2017

This is Baltimore: Our Brigadoon

Dickeyville, a small neighbourhood in Baltimore, fits the dictionary definition of Brigadoon perfectly: a place that is idyllic, unaffected by time, or remote from reality. Dickeyville is off the beaten path, down a turn from a busy road, nestled in a small river valley, and completely, utterly charming!

As part of my #thisisbaltimore2017 exploration of the city, I took an afternoon to search out the village of Dickeyville, which is on the western edge of Baltimore City. I had planned to walk through the village, but it was misting heavily , so I just drove around, and will visit later for a walk-about. But I fell in love with this place and wanted to share it with you.

I’ve found that Sundays are a good day to go exploring, as commercial sites aren’t well-populated, and I can wander pretty freely. As I headed over from my first stop, an old mansion on some hospital grounds, where a loggia leads from the mansion to the actual hospital,

I spotted this perched on the hill above the valley.

Naturally, I had to follow the road and find out what it was. I think I could live there!

I finally wended my way down to the village and just fell in love. I have actually been to a few weddings in this church, but never went into the village to explore… mainly because every wedding I went to there, I got lost.

Let’s wander around.

Family friends owned this house when I was a child. It’s a converted church, with a ballroom on the top floor.
Many of the homes are constructed of local stone, and were built for utilitarian purposes, this one a small barn.
This was the Mechanics Hall and later a theatre. It still has the original stage and lights.
This is the last house in the village and was built for the mill supervisor.
You have to cross a scary bridge to get to the mills.
The mill buildings are still in use for other purposes. I LOVE the trimwork on this!

(Shhhh… I was totally trespassing for this shot!)

Here’s the Gwynns Falls which originally powered the mills.
This mill building was converted to an artist’s studio in the 1930’s, and has been occupied by artists ever since.
This was built as the first International Order of Odd Fellows hall, and now houses an art gallery.
This house is currently on the market for less than $300k.
I love the cheery yellow door on this one and I love that the village has these wonderful white picket fences throughout.

I know I’ve already shown this image, but seriously, isn’t that entrance just the most amazing thing!

There’s a annual garden tour of Dickeyville in May, and you can find more information about the village here. I hope that you enjoyed discovering Dickeyville, just as I did!

PS.. I am having issues with my blog platform, so please excuse the wonky formatting. Ugh!