April 12, 2018


I’ve written about my bestie, Andrea,from Bosom Buddy Bags for years. She designs hand-bags, floral arrangements, and much more. She’s had some big changes in her life – foremost, her first grandchild – and is scaling back. She and her husband, whose family owned the Stieff Silver Company, are having a sale on Everything But The House! And some of her gorgeous silver and collections can be yours. I thought I’d share some of my favourite selections from the sale with you.

Sterling silver bull, bear and penguin.image

Mackenzie Childs flower arrangement with hurricane. Someone, not mentioning any names, designs for them.image

Kirk-Stieff Red "Cloisonné Embassy" Flatware. This was the first set of silver I bought for myself.


Assorted silver, including some made for the White House.image

Silverplate Chinese Fortune Cookiesimage

Five Stieff Pewter Washington Camp Cups… or julep cups!image

Edwardian-style containers. Line with moss and use as centerpieces!image

1,850 Lincoln Wheat Pennies! Glad I didn’t have to count them!image

Salt & Pepper shakers and Cigarette Urns. PERFECT for tiny flower arrangements!image

Stieff Christmas Ornaments and Perfume Atomizersimage

The sale goes on until Monday, April 16th at 8:15 p.m. Eastern Time. Bid early and often!

April 2, 2018


If you have been reading Pigtown*Design for any length of time, you might have noticed two things: I love auctions and I love old quilts. I’ve written about the intersection of the two here and here. Saturday afternoon, I realized that I didn’t really have anything on my schedule – a rare event – so I checked the schedule of a country auction that I attend every few months, and found that they had an auction beginning in about 45 minutes, just about the length of time it would take for me to drive there. I also saw that they had some old quilts up for auction, so that cemented my decision to hop in the car and head north.

There were two auctions being held simultaneously, so you can imagine the cacaphony in the building. One thing I like about auctions, other than the sheer excitement of them, is that you have the chance to look at each item and examine it carefully for marks, flaws and craftsmanship. Another thing I love is the absolute randomness of what’s up for auction. Since this was a country auction, there were more building and farming tools than china and silver. But that really wasn’t an issue.

This particular auction, and I am not revealing my sources, does not auction the items in any particular order. The “runners” just grab things off the shelves and take them to the front of the room to be sold. So, I really had to pay attention to watch for the quilts. I actually lost one because I was moving between the two auctions and had just walked over to the main side when they were hammering down one of the quilts. So irritated at myself. But I learned my lesson quickly and stayed put until they’d all been sold.

Because the auction is in Amish country, most of the quilts were clearly hand-stiched, and not done on a machine. And because I had examined the quilts before I bid on them, it was easy to discern which were commercially made quilts. Another set of quilts that I’d bought previously had been authenticated by the county historical society and each one had a cloth tag verifiying that it was handmade in the county.

Here is the real find of the day, and I am assuming you’ll realize why I had to buy it! Funnily, there was also one, clearly by the same maker, that was all L’s! I skipped that one. This is the better side of the quilt, and I am toying with the idea of cutting it up and making pillow covers from each of the big squares. Tell me if I am right or wrong to do this.image

I love this one! It has such a great pattern and you can see how much thought went into it. The slight differences in each of the squares delights your eyes.image

By the time I won my third quilt, the runner was laughing that I would never get cold! I told him that I got this one because it reminded me of the Maryland flag, which is quite distinctive. I also love how it’s been quilted in squares to reflect the main pattern.image

maryland flag big

The final quilt is machine sewn, but I loved the pattern on one side of it. They actually had the darker side displayed and so I was pleased to be able to check it out and find the brighter side.image

When I was hanging these out to be photographed, I noticed some stains and spots and they smelled like a smoker owned them (gag). In my past experience, I have had very good luck in cleaning them in the washer on a very gentle cycle. I usually soak them first to loosen the stains and then when everything’s finished, I hang them on the clothes-line to dry, using lots of clothes-pins to the weight is evenly distributed. If one seems particularly fragile, I will put a sheet on the grass and lay the quilt on that to let it dry in the sun. 

Some of these might end up on my Etsy site, since I don’t have enough beds in my house to use all of these!

March 26, 2018

#ThisIsBaltimore2018: When Will Spring Ever Arrive??

I was out running errands yesterday and it started snowing AGAIN. It’s the end of March! It’s supposed to be getting warm, and the flowers are supposed to be blooming. Instead, the temperatures are never going to get above the 60’s and there are still snow-showers forcast this week!image

I am still out and about taking pictures during my Lunchtime Safaris, and exploring the city. I thought I’d share some recent pictures with you.

The Louisa May Alcott School, which someone referred to as accidental Wes Anderson.image

I love the details on this old, and seemingly abandoned, stone house. image

Another sad abandoned house, but the millwork is stunning.image

This Stanford White-designed building is just around the corner from my office. Love it!image

I love alleys and little side streets, one of which yielded this unexpected surprise.image

The Octagon Building. Perched high on a hill overlooking the Jones Falls Valley. Circa 1855.image

One of my new tea towel designs. I know SO many people who need this!image

It’s so sad that buildings like this are no longer designed and built. The level of detail is amazing.image

Buildings like this collegiate Gothic/Tudor revival gem would never be built now.image

I love seeing the shadows of old advertisements on buildings. This is for Bull Durham tobacco.image

I am headed into an intense next few months with lectures I am giving and attending, conferences I am hosting, classes I am teaching, trips I am taking and much more! I hope to try and keep posting about once a week, but do check my Instagram account for more updated pictures and to see what’s happening. As always, thank you so much for reading!

March 15, 2018

Tweeds, Tattersalls, Feathers & Furs

Yes, I know… there are a lot of people out there who disagree with using fur in fashion, so if you’re one of them, just click away now.

I love this time of year because it’s the start of the racing season, beginning with the big one in England – the Cheltenham Racing Festival, culminating with the Gold Cup and the English Grand National. Then, here in Maryland, we swing into the steeplechase racing season with the Maryland Hunt Cup, and then towards the Triple Crown, and it ends back in England with Ascot in early summer. image

The Wednesday of the Festival is Ladies Day, and I love to scour the English newspapers to see what people are wearing to the races. Although the spectrum is broad, I tend to skew towards tweeds, tattersalls, feathers and furs. I’ve written about these styles before, here and here, so you can get a good idea of what I like.

Here are some of the top picks from this year’s Cheltenham Racing Festival.

This gal got a LOT of press! The hat was pretty amazing, and I love the obviously bespoke outfit.image

Orange was a big colour this year.image

More orangeimage

Feathers and fursimage

I love this tartan tweed cape lined with a silk scarf. I have a lot of tweed I could make into this!image

Very simple. Very elegantimage

Princess Anne in a 40-year old coat!image

It was very chilly and quite windy, but they’re dressed for it. image

The Duchess of Cornwall, aka Camillaimage

Completely classicimage

All vintage, but as elegant as ever.image

I have a hat like this that I wore to the Hunt Cup a few years ago. image

This might be a bit much for me.image

I might need to work a little harder on my hat this year!hunt cup 2016 (42)

To see more, check out my Pinterest page, What to Wear to the Races… Or Not and let us know which was your favourite outfit.

March 7, 2018


A few weeks ago, the local Junior League hosted their annual Trinkets & Treasures sale. I try and go most years because they really do have some treasures – here and here! This year’s treasure for me was a huge box of ephemera. image

If you don’t already know, here’s what ephemera is: 1: something of no lasting significance —usually used in plural. 2 ephemera plural : paper items (such as posters, broadsides, and tickets) that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectibles.

As you can see, there are a lot of botanical prints, which I adore. I scanned a lot of them into the computer and cleaned them up. I “inverted” some of the prints which made them look like old blueprints. Now I will have to think of some uses for them. Maybe teatowels, or stationery?

I “inverted” some of the prints which made them look like old blueprints. This is a fritillaria.double 8

Here are some of my favourite pieces from the collection.

Thistle flowersthistle2

More thistles7

Mountain LaurelMountail Laurel

Jack in the Pulpitjack

Poison Ivypoison ivy


Little micemice

I am still going through the box, which has several hundred pieces in it. I can’t wait to see what other treasures are there, and then decide what to do with them!