November 30, 2009

Simon Doonan Decorates the White House for Christmas!

In another sign that this isn’t the Bush’s White House, Barney’s window dresser, and author of numerous hilarious books, Simon Doonan, has been chosen by the White House to organize the public displays! simon doonan barneys christmas 2009 Mrs. Obama will open the White House to visitors beginning on Wednesday, so I will be looking forward to seeing what creative things Mr. Doonan has done!simon doonan barneysDuring the Clinton administration, the creative group from Ralph Lauren decorated the house, and the late Robert Isabell did the flowers.

The Hallway: Part XII

The prep work for the painting started this morning with the two painting professionals arriving before I did and waiting for me to walk through and answer their questions. 11-28 004Because of the nature of the building, and our limited budget, we decided that they would make their best decisions on whether to patch or sand. 11-28 003 In some places, there are large settling cracks, but if they break open the cracks, there may be something even worse behind them. 11-28 001

There are some spots where the plaster was applied on a fiber backing, such as burlap or hessian. This was a common way to apply plaster walls to a mortar background. There were a couple of places, especially on the hallways and staircase, that I could see the pattern of a cloth behind the paint. 11-28 007They will be able to patch this and then apply a skim coat of “mud” to the rest of the wall to make a smooth surface. A good plasterer is worth his weight in gold, especially when you’re working on a building of this vintage. 

By late afternoon, the two painters had started applying the first coat of paint. You can see where they covered the colour samples and let it dry (left image).

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It will dry overnight and then they will do the second coat on the walls, and the first coat on the trim tomorrow. We came out of a meeting and everyone gasped at how great it was looking!

November 29, 2009

Sunday in the City

One of the things I love about living in a city like Baltimore is that you continually see unexpected things. As we were leaving breakfast this morning, we heard bells pealing and bagpipes playing in the distance.

Today is St. Andrew’s Day, the national holiday of Scotland which is celebrated all over the world on November 30th. One of the churches in downtown Baltimore had a special service this morning in commemoration of the day. This was homecoming year for Scots all around the world to visit their homeland.St Andrews dayI spent a lot of time in Scotland when I lived in the UK and even considered living in Edinburgh, which is a wonderful city. My family has a lot of Scottish roots, so I feel very connected to the country. Plus, there’s nothing like a man in a kilt!  For a great Scot, check out fellow blogger Scot Meacham Wood who writes The Adventures of TartanScot.

Here’s a little video I took of the pipers parading through Baltimore this morning.

The December Elle Decor had a great article about some terrific tartan pieces for the winter, including this desk set from Williams-Sonoma Home.WS Home Tartan DeskI love tartan at the holidays!

November 28, 2009

Lazy Saturday

Just some housekeeping on a Saturday afternoon…

  • Don’t forget the Christmas ornament give-away. Connor was supposed to pick a winner on Thanksgiving, but that tryptophan coma prevented him from doing so. He will be picking a name on Monday afternoon, so anyone who comments will be entered in the give-awayMcLain Wiesand 11-21 059
  • Valorie Hart at Visual Vamp has included me in her shopping tour, featuring goods from a number of bloggers across the blogosphere. Click here to see who else is selling.11-26 008
  • My house is being shown to a potential buyer tomorrow. I have realized that the more you clean up and try to get rid of things, the bigger mess you make. I am accumulating a huge pile of books to take back to the Book Thing tomorrow. {But not these!}books 004
  • My neighbour is having her annual Jewelry Craftastic Holiday Shopping Extravaganza on Saturday, December 5th. If you’re in Baltimore, stop on by. There will be lots of great things for sale, including some things I’ve made. For information, click here.xmas copy

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Today, as we celebrate Thanksgiving in the US, I am thankful for good health, a good and loving family, scan0020stellar friends, NYC 2007 002 a sweet (mostly) dog, Xmas 068 a job that I love, SMALL Watercolour adventures past and present, 6d 001 and the ever-unfolding surprises that meeting my fellow bloggers bring. bloggers shooting Happy Thanksgiving to you!

November 25, 2009

The Hallway: Part XI

The big day is almost here and I’ve just found out that Earl is going to be out for the next two weeks! That means it’s on to me to oversee the project. YIKES!

I got Earl to do a walk-about yesterday to go over all of the details, what gets sanded, 11-25 012 what gets patched, 11-25 011what is painted white and what’s Silver Sage.

We are starting with the front hall and hope need to finish it by Thursday’s board meeting. Then the painters will go to the top floor and work their way back down to the lower staircase.

Earl’s guys have removed almost all of the furniture from the front hall and the paintings, quilts and information case from the walls. It’s a big echo chamber now.

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When they removed the trophy case, the floor under it was in awful shape.  11-25 007 There was a spot on the wall where something must have really banged into it and there’s a hole in the plaster. It’s fascinating to see through to the 150+ year old mortar, with coarse sand and pebbles in it. 11-25 010 I wish we could have afforded to hire a historic paint expert to see what the original colours were, but in the scheme of things, we’ve got a lot more important things to do… like care for children! With this many layers of paint, there’s sure to be a lot of lead paint, so the best thing is to cover it. 11-25 009The most ironic thing is that there seem to be several layers of yellow paint… one of the colours we’d originally considered.

November 24, 2009

Royal Mail Does It Again

In January, I shared some of the new stamps issued by the UK’s Royal Mail (tagline: I am thinking of a letter) and said how great looking they are. RM New-Order Royal Mail has just released some new designs which will be issued after the first of the year. RM The-Clash They depict classic British Rock album covers including Led Zeppelin IV, RM Led-ZeppelinDavid Bowie's The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust, RM David-BowiePink Floyd's The Division Bell, Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells and The Rolling Stones’ Let it Bleed.RM Rolling-StonesThe stamps were designed by London's Studio Dempsey {you MUST click on the link!}.

November 23, 2009

Holiday Shopping: Part II and Shameless Self Promotion

My mission this holiday season is to promote the little guy. The small shops and artisans need us to patronize them this year… and every year! So I am buying presents and gifts from alternative sources. I know it’s easy to give a gift card, but where’s the thought and originality in that?

One great resource of unique items is Etsy. Every time I look at the items for sale, I am blown away by people’s creativity. From this tiny embroidered herb ornament ets1 to this adorable cashmere mouse hat for a baby, ets2 there are tons of incredible items from which to choose.

I always thought that Etsy was for handmade goods, but I recently discovered that they have a vintage section. They describe vintage as anything more than 20 years old (which means that I am vintage!). Buying vintage and antique is a great way to go green.

As you might remember, I am getting ready to move house, and so am adding lots of vintage items I’ve collected over the past few years, both here in the States and in England, Wales and France. Etsy 11-23 013I have listed items for sale in the right-hand column of the blog, like these Bakelite-handled fish knives and forks.

Of course, Etsy is nothing without Regretsy, a hilarious site showing some of the really ghastly items for sale. Like these things… They’re spats for your sandals. ets3 I can pretty much guarantee you that I won’t sell anything like this!

November 22, 2009

Historic House Tour: Cliveden (PA not UK)

Last weekend, several members of the Historic House Group and I went to Philadelphia. We spent most of the time at Stenton, but also found a spare few hours to visit Cliveden, home of the Chew family for more than 200 years.Philadelphia 218The house was the site of the Battle of Germantown in the American Revolution, and 125 British soldiers barricaded themselves in the house while the Americans shot at them. Philadelphia 239 You can still see the marks in the walls. Philadelphia 230

Because the same family lived in the house continuously for more than 200 years, there were very few significant changes to it, other than adding heating and indoor plumbing, and a new wing. Philadelphia 221

Unfortunately, the house is undergoing some major renovations, so we were only able to see the ground floor.Philadelphia 235 It was late in the afternoon when we arrived, and the house is dimly lit, so the photographs I took are not brilliant – or bright!

The woodwork in the house is just stunning and it is so classical in its styling. The broken pediments over the two rooms off the main hallway were just gorgeous. Philadelphia 240Here, you can see where the new wing of the house was added. They’ve taken a window and made a door from it. But when the door is closed, it still blends in with the original woodwork. Philadelphia 251While I loved the inside of the house, it was several of the views of the outside of the house that had me captivated. I loved this little outbuilding and can imagine I’d be quite happy in a house of this size and style. Unfortunately, I don’t think I am likely to find one in my current house-hunt.Philadelphia 215As we rounded a corner, I was delighted to find this little Palladian window and shutters in a corresponding shape. Philadelphia 204The shutter dogs on the windows may be close to original. It’s so pleasing to see even the smallest detail with a great aesthetic.Philadelphia 208I love the sturdiness of these columns in the back of the house. The detailing is spectacular. Philadelphia 205All in all, it was a wonderful day with some great new friends. For more pictures, check out JCB and Architect Design’s posts on our trip.

November 21, 2009

Holiday Shopping: Part I & A Give-Away

In the States, we often use the Thanksgiving weekend as the mark for the beginning of the Christmas Shopping season, but in light of the current economy, I am going to begin early and do a lot of local shopping and show you what I’ve found. I am sure that if you see something you MUST have, you can call the shop mentioned and see if you can make arrangements to acquire it.

While my friend David at McLain-Wiesand usually makes spectacular custom furniture, he and his crew of elves are busy making goodies for Christmas. And to make it even easier to get some of their small pieces, they’ve opened for business on Saturdays, from now until Christmas from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. So stop by for a look around, some cookies and perhaps some Christmas cheer.

Here is some of what’s on offer at McLain Wiesand:

A pair of classical figural candlesticks $45.00/pairMcLain Wiesand 11-21 002 Egyptian Head $35.00

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A selection of exquisite boxes $100-$150

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Small Globe on Stand $35.00McLain Wiesand 11-21 015Sphinx Bookends $64/pairMcLain Wiesand 11-21 022Classical Greek Head with Gilded Laurel Wreath $55McLain Wiesand 11-21 026David’s daughter Lexi is making jewelry with small escutcheons and other furniture jewelry. The necklaces and bracelets are priced at about $20 or less.

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David and his elves are also making Christmas Ornaments for your tree or your wreath. These are cast resin copies of pieces either in David’s shop or details from furniture fixtures. The detail on these pieces is amazing and they’re priced so you can attach one to a bottle of wine or a present, or just hang dozens on your tree. Regardless of what you do with them, they are certain to be a unique addition to your holiday traditions. $2.00 to $15.00

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David has offered me one of his ornaments as a give-away to a reader. You can choose either a gold or silver finish on this beautiful Greek Goddess, which measures about eight inches tall. David cast this from a piece of furniture in his house. McLain Wiesand 11-21 059Just leave a comment, and I will have Connor make a selection on Thanksgiving (November 26). I will mail it to you in time for the holidays.