May 31, 2010

A Housewerks Wedding

On Sunday, there was a wedding at Housewerks. It’s a stellar location for a party, with a fabulous Victorian-era pumping station, fascinating pieces all around and a view of the skyline of Baltimore City.5-30 052The timing for the wedding was excellent, as the crew from Housewerks had just been up to sell at Brimfield and had sold lots of their stock – much of it before the show even opened! 5-30 032 So instead of being jam-packed with merchandise and treasures, the stock was relatively sparse. However, that meant that the pieces remaining were shown to their best advantage.5-30 042The chuppah for the services was stretched between four columns, and set against two heavy mahogany doors. 5-30 037 Lots of Housewerks’ artifacts were pressed into service as candleholders. 5-30 043And some other pieces were set up to use as coolers, to be filled with ice and bottles of wine and champagne.5-30 034 Outside, visitors were greeted with flapping pennants (made by moi, from remnants of my pillows!) 5-30 047 and a double row of glass floats from Japanese fishing nets, which then lead into the building. 5-30 046

Here are some more pictures, so you can get an idea of what a great space this is.

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Having a wedding in a space like Housewerks is not for everyone. But, personally, I’d much rather have an event at a place like this than somewhere traditional.

May 30, 2010

Flowers on Sunday and Some Book Thing Finds

During six months of the year, my friend Julie and I have a routine. We meet at the Farmers’ Market in downtown Baltimore at 8:00 a.m. sharp. We do a looking lap and then a buying lap at the market, all while greeting and chatting with friends we see.

Following that, we head somewhere for breakfast. We have some favourite places, but are always looking to find a new place, which we did today.

After breakfast, we go to Book Thing, where Julie, an amazing cook with an awesome kitchen, heads for the cook book section and I head for the design and decorating section.

Come on along with us!

There were still some peonies at the market, but I am really just sick of the smell of them. They can be so sweet and cloying and I am over them for the season, surprisingly!  I found some beautiful Bachelors Buttons, an easy plant to grow, and one which comes in some beautiful shades of blue, and pink and white.

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For breakfast, we headed to Grand View, an interesting place at the top of a senior living facility! I’d seen a sign for it recently, and realized that it was probably the highest point in Baltimore. 5-30 022 As we suspected, the view was indeed grand, with sightlines in every direction. It was clear enough that we could see all the way out the harbour into the Chesapeake Bay. 5-30 016 We were both amazed to see what a green city Baltimore is. Although you do get that sense driving around, it’s verified by an aerial view.

A quick trip to Book Thing yielded two treasures, including Architectural Digest’s Celebrity Homes, dating from 1977. The selection of celebrities is interesting: it ranges from Senator Edward Kennedy to Julia Child, from Pauline Trigere to Diana Vreeland. 5-30 029 The other treasure was Chanel: Her Style and Her Life, by Janet Wallach. This book will be a great read, and it’s got a lot of images that I haven’t seen before. 5-30 030 Although I haven’t had a chance to read through either book, I am sure I will be fascinated by them both.

May 27, 2010

Gardenias, Chanel & Me

I adore gardenias, as you might have noticed. My heirloom plant is currently blooming and I’ve been giving flowers to the older ladies who sit across the street from my house and watch the neighbourhood. gardenia 004One of the things I love about gardenias, aside from their creamy white flowers, is their peppery scent. While I love the peonies I’ve been getting, I often find their scent to be cloyingly sweet. The gardenia is much more gardenia

I received an e-mail from Chanel today, announcing their GARDÉNIA perfume, in which fresh gardenias and dewy greens combine for an intoxicating scent.Chanel Gardenia Bottle and this is what they had to say about it:

Sweet and voluptuous, an intense fragrance of absolute femininity. Created by CHANEL Master Perfumer Ernest Beaux in 1925, GARDÉNIA is an olfactive ode to Mademoiselle Chanel's favorite flower. gardenia 001 A vanilla base rises to meet a heart of sweet fruit and creamy gardenia petals, accented with coconut. Sending the scent aloft: the crisp greens of the flower's morning leaves.

At $200 for 6.8 oz. I think I will just enjoy the scent of my own gardenias.

May 26, 2010

I’ll Take This… Gatehouse

Diana's House is a truly unique and fascinating Grade II* building, reputedly dating from 1600. It was the Gatehouse to Amesbury Abbey. It has flint elevations with stone quoins and dressings, a fissile stone slate roof, and a triangular block with octagonal stair tower attached to the south. An inscription over the ground floor door reads 'Diana, her hous 1600'. Amesbury1Diana is alleged to have been the mistress of Edward Seymour who lived in Amesbury Abbey. The front door opens into an entrance vestibule, off which is an irregular shaped sitting room, dining room, kitchen and bathroom. The main bedroom is approached by a circular staircase in the tower which continues up into a small room in the top of the tower. C:\FPS\11EasyCad Southern\FLOOR\KB  Southern\Jackson Stopps\Diana's House Amesbury Abbey Church Street Amesbury SP4 7EX.FCWApproached off the back driveway, Diana's House has a private area of mature gardens which lead down to the river and private parking. It also enjoys the benefit of the beautiful Abbey grounds and fishing on the River Avon.Amesbury2The only issue? The property is the gatehouse to Amesbury Abbey, a posh private nursing home. Amesbury Abbey You have to be older than 55 to purchase the property, which is only £180,000!

May 25, 2010

Bits & Pieces… Literally!

As I am sewing, it just kills me to throw away the bits and pieces left over from my projects. I was trying to think of something to do with the left over pieces, and last night, I thought that I needed something to replace the über-ratty Tibetan prayer flags in my back garden. 5-25 01

Do you know about Tibetan prayer flags? They’re squares of light cotton in bright colours with prayers printed on them. Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space. As wind passes over the surface of the flags, which are sensitive to the slightest movement of the wind, the air is purified and sanctified by the mantras.5-25 02 So I thought that I would try making some bunting. You know… the triangle flags that fly over car dealerships and country fairs. I made a template for an elongated triangle and started cutting them out, using pinking shears so that the edges wouldn’t fray. 5-25 004Then I strung them together using some seam binding, and sewed them up. I made a nine-foot long string of bunting, and was pleased with the way that it worked. I think I need to use a narrower binding to make it more in scale with the flags. 5-25 005Funnily enough, this morning when I was reading The Guardian, there was an article on how to make bunting. Great minds and all of that… You can see the flags blowing above my a/c vent – Connor’s favourite place to sleep.5-25 006The house where I am moving has a wee back garden with a wood fence with brick pillars around it, and I thought some bunting would be a fun thing to help make it cheery.

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PS… I want to thank Beth over at Chinoiserie Chic. She’s been featuring my pillows on her gorgeous blog and as soon as she posts them, they’ve sold!

May 24, 2010


When I lived in the UK, I saw some of the most hideous wallpapers imaginable. They were flocked with faux velveteen, every single inch of the paper was covered in some sort of colour or pattern and most of them had been hanging since Victorian times.

When I saw these two papers from the DIY chain, B&Q, which is like Home Depot or Lowes, I was totally shocked. These papers are brilliant and I’d use them in a room in a heartbeat.

This one’s called La Vie Ordinaire and has scenes of life in New York, London and is Birds of a Feather, and features little birds on a line, with Union Jacks to add some colour. birds-of-feather  At £19.98 a roll, they’re not too expensive.

May 23, 2010

Flowers on Sunday & A Memory

It was a grey morning at the Farmers’ Market here in Baltimore, and with all of the rain we’ve been having, it looked as though I was getting the last of the peonies.5-23 001 The vendors either had tightly budded stems or ones that were all of they way open. 5-23 003I picked out several pale pink ones, and then bought the only fuchsia one in the bunch. They just smell so incredible and their scent really fills my small house. 

Today is the anniversary of my father’s death. I had just started writing Pigtown*Design a few months earlier and after he died, I came home and wrote a tribute to him. I am reprinting it today so that those of you who weren’t reading Pigtown*Design in May of 2007, will know what an amazing and interesting man he was.Geof 301 2

My father passed away this afternoon after a long and happy life. He was born in Nottingham England in 1924. He served in the British Navy during the war years and spent time in Africa, Asia and India. After the war ended, he emigrated to the US in 1947. He became a US citizen in 1953, but also retained his UK citizenship. He also married my mother that year.Geof 301Dad was a writer for the Baltimore Sun and he maintained ties to the paper for many years, writing articles and features for the paper. He then moved to become the director of public relations at the Walters Art Gallery where he initiated many art in public programs, including the Art Abroad trips to Europe. Finally, he was the special projects for the Baltimore County Library system. After his retirement, he wrote for many publications on a range of topics.Engagement 1953  3My father enjoyed many hobbies, especially reading, gardening and collecting. He was president of the Maryland Horticulture Society and the Baltimore Bibliophiles. He was very interested in history, cooking, travelling and classical music and opera. He loved to read and at one point had more than 4,000 books in his library. He read the Sun, New York Times and Washington Post every day.Geof SnowMy father, just days short of his 83rd birthday, will be missed by all who knew him, especially his three daughters and one son, his seven (soon to be nine) grandchildren and of course, my mother, his wife of 54 years.

Even as recently as a few weeks ago, people have told me how much they loved him and that they miss him. We all do, too.

Geoffrey William Fielding. Born: Nottingham, England, May 28, 1924. Died: Baltimore, Maryland, May 23, 2007. In between, a full life lived well.

May 22, 2010

Billy Baldwin: Decorates and Remembers

There is a quote in the newly opened Billy Baldwin exhibit at Evergreen which resonates with everyone living in Baltimore:

If one is born a Baltimorean, one remains such for life, no matter where it takes you…

I can attest that this is a truism, especially being a 12th generation Baltimorean. But what the exhibit is really about is the way that Baltimore’s conservative decorating sense on the Protestant side of the city, and the more avant garde sense on the Jewish side of the city, both influenced Baldwin’s decorating for his entire life.BB@Baby

While BB was from a wealthy WASPY Baltimore family, he was also exposed to the Jewish side of the city in an era where the two groups didn’t intermingle. BB@Evergreen 009His family’s cook’s sister worked for the Cone sisters whose collection of modern art and literature was unparalleled. BB often visited their apartment with the cook and had the chance to see original Matisse and Picasso paintings hanging on their walls. This influence can be seen on his fabric “Arbre de Matisse” which was used on the cover of Billy Baldwin Decorates.bbaldwinOne of the most fascinating pieces of this small exhibit is a detail of a wall and window covering from Atlanta Hall Farm, just north of Baltimore. This room, designed by BB in 1938, still exists in its complete and original form today. Atlanta Hall Farm It was during this time that he was working for Ruby Ross Wood. He may have met this family through either Wood’s husband, who was active in the Maryland fox hunting scene, which was based out of the area where Atlanta Hall Farm is located, or through his work with the Symington family, where Mrs. Wood first discovered him. One thing you learn if you live in Baltimore, is that everything and everyone is interconnected.

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There is a fabulous little catalogue which goes along with the exhibit and has loads of detail about BB, the show and some of his work in Baltimore. I have not finished reading through it, but already I’ve learned a lot.BB@Evergreen 028The exhibit is open through the summer and it’s well worth the trip to see Evergreen House and this show. The final lecture in the House Beautiful series is this week, so that’s a great opportunity!

May 20, 2010

Isabella Blow’s Style Goes to Auction

From the International Herald Tribune’s Suzy Menkes:

The passionate collaboration between the fashion icon Isabella Blow and the designer Alexander McQueen will be immortalized in September, when Christie’s puts up for auction an extraordinary wardrobe. david_lachappelle

Over 90 McQueen outfits, 50 hats from the milliner Philip Treacy and shoes by Manolo Blahnik will underscore the exceptional eye for style of the late Ms. Blow, who committed suicide in 2007, and the skill of the designer whom she championed from the beginning of his career. He also took his own life earlier this year. IsabellaBlow

“What we have is unique — it shows that McQueen really deserves his place in fashion history and that Isabella was there before anyone else, she saw what was good so far ahead of the game,” said Patricia Frost, director of fashion and textiles at Christie’s in London. Isabella Blow3

The sale, from the Blow estate on behalf of her family, will be held by the auction house in London, South Kensington, on Sept. 15. isabella blow2 

For fashion followers and fans of Philip Treacy, Isabella Blow and Alexander McQueen, this will be a sale to remember.