October 30, 2007

Happy Halloween!

This is the first year in ages I haven't carved a pumpkin. My best intention was to go to the farmer's market on Sunday morning, but since I had gotten home from that Housewerks party in the wee hours, pumpkin shopping went by the wayside. When I lived in Wales, we got pumpkins for the children I lived with, but they lost interest in carving them in about 30 seconds. Since their father is an artist, his was way better than mine.
I am amazed by how competitive pumpkin carving has become, and how intricate pumpkins are carved. I will miss the wonderful smell of pumpkin seeds roasting in the oven with a tiny bit of butter and sea salt after I carve the pumpkin.
There are some great-looking pumpkins around the web. My neighbours have the "puking pumpkin" and every time I walk the dog, it just cracks me up!

October 28, 2007

Halloween Treat

Continuing with the original content theme this week, I thought I would show you all some pix from the amazing Halloween party I went to last night. It was held at Housewerks, our local architectural salvage store. Housewerks is in a Victorian-era gasworks and it the perfect venue for a Halloween party... or any party!
The hallmarks of this party are the creative types who attend, the unique entertainment and Guti's goulash cooked in a cauldron by a dear friend. Lots of old friends are always at this party, so that makes it especially fun.
My costume was "Nightmares in My Kitchen" and I donned a chef's toque, jacket and pants. I decorated the jacket with clip art pictures of rats, roaches and ants that I'd fused on with t-shirt transfer paper. My friend, Mr. Big, went as a pirate (he's a top yacht racer in our fleet). We had a great time fixing his make-up to reflect his pirate status!
The entertainment this year was two hoop dancers, three belly dancers and a fire dancer! They were all great, especially the fire dancer. As usual, the costumes were creative and clever. They included a disco ball, a lego, a deviled egg, Braveheart, Blueman, a shark attack, a gecco, several prom queens, Elvis, Anthony & Cleopatra, Bjork, Willie Wonka and many more!

Belly Dancers with Cherub in Background

Bjork and Willie WonkaFire Dancer
Cute Aussie Gecko!

Great Party! Thanks Antony & Cleopatra!

October 23, 2007

Original Content Week

The wonderful blog, Decorno (decor + porno) has declared this week to be "Original Content Week", so I am going to give it a shot. I don't usually scan pages of magazines, but I do grab things off the interweb to illustrate points I am writing about. My foodie blog is mostly original photos, except for the other night when the restaurant was too dark to even read the meny, so I do try.

When I lived in the UK, I got in the habit of carrying my camera everywhere, because I never knew what amazing thing was around the corner. I've kept that habit and try and shoot pictures wherever I can. So, I thought I would show you some of my favourite photos.
I love the way this photo is framed by the trees, the viaduct and the lawn, all leading your eye out to the Bristol Channel in South Wales where I lived. This is taken from the verandah of an amazing guest house outside of Cardiff.
This was taken on my last day at the castle where I worked. I was sad to be leaving and the sky matched my mood. This is the dry moat and the front portcullus of the immense St. Donat's Castle.
Mount Clare Museum House, near where I live is always a great place to take phtographs. You would never guess that I-95 runs about a half-mile from here. I like the solidness of the pillars and the organic shape of the tree behind it.
This is another shot from Mount Clare. They had an exhibit of 300 years of Wedgwood. The bowl is Wedgwood and is about 100+ years old. It was used in a dairy. The light in this picture reminds me of a Flemish still-life, and all of the elements, except the apples, are 100+ years old.
I love blue willow china. I love fresh Maryland corn. I love, love, love my wonderful French Ivory-handled cutlery that I have collected piece by piece. I really like how the handle of the fork echoes the colour of the corn. Last but not least, a pig picture. I went to a dinner to celebrate the year of the pig, and the hostess collects pigs. I put my camera on the table, turned off the flash and set the timer to take a lot of pictures in candle-light with the sparkle of fine crystal reflecting what light there was. Oh, and we drank about six bottles of wine that night.

October 21, 2007

*** UPDATED*** Another Book Thing Bonanza!

I love book stores, but especially the Book Thing. It's such a crap-shoot as to what you will find and when I went yesterday, it was looking bleak. Not really anything in the design/decorating section... oh, but what's that old book back there? Another copy of Decorating is Fun by Dorothy Draper. I've got a copy and have a home for this one.
On to the humour section... Oh my gosh! It's a copy of Blandings' Way, the sequal to Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. If you haven't seen the wonderful blog Mrs. Blandings, hop on over there and check it out. She's got great taste and an even better sense of humour. I didn't know that the house that Mr. Blandings builds is a real house. Read this article to see the back story. Funnily enough, the Washington Post reviewed Mr. Blandings Builds... this summer in an occasional series they do on overlooked books. Amazingly, I was back at the Book Thing on Sunday, October 28, and they had the original book, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. Unfortunately, it didn't have its cover, but it is a first edition. This will also end up in the library of Mr. & Mrs. Blandings of KC, Mo.
Cruise around to the maps/geography section to find an old Baedekers book on London with its distinctive red cover. I have some of my father's collection of old Baedekers guides to the UK.
Nothing in biographies that I was inspired to get, but I did find some early copies of the magazine Budget Living, a great little magazine that had a three year run. Click here for an interesting article about it and its demise. It was sort of a precursor to Blueprint mag.

October 19, 2007

Van Day Truex

I was shopping for some books for my niece, who turns three later this month. I got a selection of pig-themed books, although I realize that she might not understand the significance. While I was at the bookstore, I was browsing their design selection and found a book on Van Day Truex (1904-1979), titled Van Day Truex: The Man Who Defined Twentieth-Century Taste and Style. Albert Hadley wrote the preface to the book. This isn't a gossipy, tell-all book, rather a text on classical design in the mid-20th century, as well as on the society of the day.

VDT was the president of the Parsons School of Design and later the design director at Tiffany & Co. He also lived in Paris between the two world wars. Early in the book, VDT's design mantra is revealed: Control. Edit. Distill. I am still working on all three! There's not a lot of information about VDT around, so this book will be a great learning tool.

One of his best friends was Baltimorean Billy Baldwin, and was great friends with Albert Hadley. When he met Bunny Williams early in her career, he told her that kitchens should only be white.
Interiors speak! Rooms emphasize whether one exists or lives, and there is a great difference between the two! ...Van Day Truex, Interiors

October 16, 2007

The Envelope Please...

(and it's an envelope from Mrs. John L. Strong, of course)

And the award of the House in My Head goes to... The House of Beauty & Culture. Mwah! Mwah! Kiss! Kiss! You are wonderful, darlings!

Thanks, Style Magazine

I also write a foodie blog, where I mostly review restaurants. Pigtown Pigout was mentioned in Baltimore's Style Magazine along with 15 other local foodie bloggers. Take a look at the review here. Style is a great local magazine, and I used to ask my mother to send me copies when I lived in the UK. Thanks, Style!

October 14, 2007

Restoration Hardware

I went up to the Restoration Hardware warehouse sale outside of Baltimore on Saturday. Resto Hardware only has two warehouses, one in Maryland and the other in California. The sale used to be held twice a year, but they've recently been holding them one weekend a month because they have a surplus of inventory. Good for us, bad for them!
They had a lot of their summer furniture on sale, as well as loads of beds and sofas. Things were generally marked at 40% to 60% off their regular prices. They also had sort of a Christmas Market, with lots of their decorations on sale. I picked up a bunch of small ornaments, and votive glasses to give as hostess gifts to give out at holiday parties. They told me that people come from all over the east coast to come to this sale. If you love their look and want good prices, this is worth the trip.

October 12, 2007

A Celebration of Grace

From Sotheby's:

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the passing of Her Serene Highness Princess Grace. In commemoration of the life of the Oscar-winning Hollywood star and style icon, an unprecedented exhibition, The Grace Kelly Years, will be held at the Grimaldi Forum Monaco from 12 July to 23 September.

Princess Grace remains one of the most beloved women of the 20th century, and this exhibition offers her legions of admirers the opportunity to enter her private world, through many unseen personal belongings such as her letters, clothes, fashion accessories, sound recordings and film clips. Many of these items will be exhibited at Sotheby's New York from 15 to 26 October.

A very select number of items will be offered in a live auction at the 25th Anniversary Princess Awards Gala on October 25, 2007, including two outfits that she wore: a Givenchy-designed green sleeveless dress with matching jacket worn on an official 1961 visit with Prince Rainier to lunch at the White House with President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy, and a Helen Rose ball gown worn by Grace Kelly in 1956 musical comedy High Society.
Click here to view the tribute to Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace.

October 11, 2007

Don't Forget

If you want the copy of The House in My Head, post a comment on the post below and tell me why by midnight on Friday!

October 10, 2007

Carolyne Roehm - SALE

I just got an e-mail from Carolyne Roehm saying that they're having a Fin de Serie sale... If your French is a little rusty, it means an end of the season sale!
Some of the items for sale are papers, ribbons, bags and tie-ons, just for the holidays. I especially love her faux-alligator gift bags. And as always, the colours are just lush!Shop early for the best selections... and while you're on CR's site, look around. She's got great things!

October 9, 2007

Blue Porch Paint

Well, today the painters were scraping the windows outside my office. Of course, today Baltimore also broke a heat record, with temps in the upper 90's recorded downtown. My office has a window air conditioner, which the workers took out. They also covered the windows with plastic to seal them against the dust from the lead paint. As you might imagine, my office was hot and stuffy! I persuaded them not to put my gigantic air conditioner back in the window until next summer, so now I can open my windows!
The estate manager told me that he's getting good comments on the blue ceiling, but that he personally hates it! I wandered down to look at it, and I mostly like it. They should have painted the sprinkler pipes blue to match. I may still be able to talk them into it! The floor of the porch is apparently Trex, so we're not painting it. Thanks for all of your good suggestions though!

The pale yellow that we chose for the woodwork is looking wonderful. After another coat, it will really sparkle.

October 7, 2007

I am Giving Away The House In My Head


You can't have my brain, but you can have The House in My Head. This is a classic book by Dorothy Rodgers, the wife of composer Richard Rodgers of Rodgers & Hammerstein, Rodgers & Hart fame. This 1967 book is about the construction of the Rodgers' house in Connecticut and all that went on to build it. It's a fascinating story of every little thing that she thought about before, during and after construction. It also has some fun 1960's American Cuisine recipes in the back of the book... just in case you want to do some lavish entertaining!
I found a copy of it at the Book Thing a few months ago, and read it straight through. Today, there was another copy in nearly mint condition, so I thought of you and snapped it up. To win a copy of The House in My Head, just send a comment and tell me why you'd like a copy of the book.On Friday, I will pick one person and send the book to them.

October 4, 2007

Dorothy Draper Auction

Don't get too excited... I couldn't go.
The night before the auction, we had about 15 minutes of fireworks (or shooting the players) at the Orioles/Yankees game, about three blocks from my house. The Connor dog went nuts and was tearing around the house, and when I went to grab him and wrestle him to the ground (he's a yellow lab, not a little dog), I threw out my back.

It was still killing me the next morning and I didn't want to make the hour plus drive down to Alexandria. Since I had a bidding number, I bid on-line and then sat back to wait on my winning bid, (and watch the Wales-Fiji Rugby World Cup match streaming from France - I lived in Wales and a bunch of these players lived near us).

Well, I never heard from the auction house if my bid was accepted, whether I won (guess not) or what the bids were like. My bid wasn't even acknowledged via e-mail. I tried to re-bid, but they had closed the bids. The chair I bid on went for $125, which I would have paid had I been there in person.

I e-mailed the company, and haven't heard back from them. I am a little annoyed about the way it worked. I should have been suspicious that things wouldn't work too well when the first set of bidding numbers and IDs went into my junk mail box.
I checked the Potomack Company site and they are showing all of the items, along with the estimates and the hammer prices. For example, they have the mirror below listed with a winning price of either $4000 or $4700. (Their site says both.) The estimate was $300-$500. The table above had an estimate of $200-$400 and went for $2300, with multiples of that item.The prices were all over the board. Six Hepplewhite-style mahogany chairs, with an estimate of $200-$400, sold for $700, and an eight panel Chinese cormondel screen with an estimate of $300-$500, sold for $475. A modern coffee table, with an estimate of $200-$400 went for $2200, and there were four or five of these, all selling in this range. This cabinet was estimated at $1000-$1500 and sold for $4000.
So, I am disappointed that I didn't get to go, but the prices were out of my price range.

October 2, 2007

Josephine Ryan Antiques & Interiors

I get the Guardian Wrap on-line each morning, just a summary of the UK news, but very interesting points of view that we don't see here in the US. Their Observer on Sunday magazine was always a part of my weekend reading when I lived in Wales. Today, I found an article about Josephine Ryan Antiques and Interiors. She's just published a book called French Home, and although it doesn't look like it is available in the US, I want it!
Josephine's description of French decor is wonderful "...perfect imperfection... a look pulled together with a certain nonchalance underscored by enormous confidence. It's also about putting objects into new contexts: slatted garden chairs (like those in Paris's Jardin du Luxembourg) are welcomed into any room in the house, or glass soda siphon bottles are transformed into lamp bases. This mentality is bound up with seeing the multifunctional potential in any piece: an armoire, for example, can be used not only for storing clothes and bedlinen but also for crockery or food."
Her shop in Clapham Common in London is going to be on the list for my next trip over there. I love her mix of rough and smooth, soft and hard and old and not so old. The slightly faded and scratched only serve to highlight their history.What fun things! I can't wait to visit the store in person!

October 1, 2007

{Pink Post}

Today, a group of blogging buddies have made the commitment to post about PINK to raise awareness for breast cancer. Pink is such a versatile colour and comes in such great shades, from the chalky Pepto pink, to a whisper of a baby pink. Pinks with more orange and yellow in them are coral and salmon hues, while ones with more blue tend towards hot pink. One of my favourite quotes comes from Diana Vreeland who said "Pink is the navy blue of India".
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Remember to think PINK!