June 30, 2013

Use the Good China

I was listening to NPR this morning and they did a report about the fact that foods taste better if you eat them off silver and china. Researchers have been studying how “cutlery, dishes and other inedible accoutrements to a meal” can alter our perceptions of taste. I’ve said this for ages.

When I moved two years ago, I made the decision to use all of “the good stuff”. I was given beautiful Royal Copenhagen china, blue-fluted-half-lace-jpgWilliam Yeoward glassware and Kings patterned silverwareimage when I returned from the UK, mainly because my brother-in-law felt sorry for me because I didn’t have china, silver or glassware. I kept it packed away for the first few years after I returned, but then decided that was stupid, and I should use it.

So I do. Everything but the silver, which sort of scares me. The knives are more than 12 inches long and sharp as swords. I use my beautiful French Ivory silverware, including the gorgeous spoons that the lovely “House of Beauty & Culture” had made for me. imageEverything I eat with those spoons tastes better, all because I know those spoons were made for me with love. You can read the story of the spoons here.

I have oodles of linen napkins, which I use all of the time. Since I generally paid about 50¢ a piece for the napkins, I don’t worry too much if they get stained. I don’t bother ironing them, I just hang them on the clothesline to dry them and then fold them. imageEven if I am just having a simple supper of pasta and pesto, or just a bowl of yoghurt with fresh berries, I use the good china and silver.

Do you use your “good stuff” every day? If you don’t, why not?

June 27, 2013

Refresh Magazine

When I was in High Point in April, Katie Denham from the Katie Did blog, and I were wandering around the CR Laine Showroom, when we ran into Holly Blalock, their design director, taking some other people on a tour of the showroom. Holly kindly included us in the tour, and we shortly found out that one of the other people was Lacey Howard, the editor of the new BHG special interest publication “Refresh”.

Lacey told us that the magazine would be coming out in late May, so when I saw it at the store, I grabbed it! The basic premise of the magazine is that to refresh your house you don’t have to start from scratch, you can use what you have, maybe in a different way, you can find inspiration from many sources, and budget items can have a huge impact.

As we were wandering around the showroom, we ran into Jason and John, the brilliant minds behind Madcap Cottage. It turns out that they’d contributed a make-over article to Refresh magazine (and that Jason’s sister lives in my neighbourhood in Baltimore).

There’s lots of good information in Refresh, as well as lots of tips and trends, including this amazing bathroom where the homeowner painted her bathroom walls with Sharpie markers. You can read her story here.

There are lots of clever ideas, including this one of painting your firescreen in a bright colour. You can get an autobody shop to do this for you, or you can do it with spraypaint, if you’re good!I think that this is a great idea for summer, when you’re not using your fireplace.

The magazine will be on the shelves until the end of August, so be sure and look for it...

And don’t google Refresh magazine unless you’d like an eyeful of beefy British men. Apparently, there’s another magazine called reFresh.

June 26, 2013


I got nothing for you today! I had a big lecture at work that we’ve been getting ready for all week.burrito1 Of course, right as people were set to arrive, a huge storm hit the area. A bolt of lightning hit our building, turning on fire alarms and knocking out the internet, which of course, we needed for the lecture. IMG_7491After the fire engines showed up, checked that all was well, including climbing into one of the attics via a trap door in the men’s room. connor1 (5)The lecture went off perfectly. In fact, the speaker was interesting and quite funny. IMG_6063So, I thought instead of a real post, I’d show some of my favourite pictures of dear Connor, who had hidden in the walk-in shower in my house until the storm had passed. I am quite curious however, as to how and why everything from the shower got into the mudroom.IMG_6364

I think my favourite image is still the one of Connor-as-burrito.

June 25, 2013


Now that it’s officially summer, and feeling like it in this part of the Mid-Atlantic states, I have one question.sailabration4What are you doing this summer?

I don’t have much planned, mainly because I started at a new position less than three months ago. But I hope to get to NYC for a few days, down to the beach for a few and to see friends who have houses on the water. I am sure I will have a few parties, plan some adventures and work on a lecture I am giving in October.

So, what are you doing?

Read Me! (But not on Google Reader)

aliceAs you might know, Google Reader will be ceasing operation on July 1, 2013. I know a lot of my readers read Pigtown*Design in Google Reader and that you’re going to need another solution come the first of July.

I have several suggestions:

  • You can subscribe to Pigtown*Design and have it delivered to your in-box each morning before 8:00 EST. There’s a box to the right where you can enter your e-mail and it will start coming as of the next post. Look for the box that looks like the one below.


  • You can starting reading your feeds through some other services like Feedly.com which has an interface similar to Google Reader’s. Another service is called The Old Reader, which looks like Google Reader before they started fooling with it.

I suggest you start looking around for a service that fits your needs before it all goes away. What are you waiting for? Wikipedia Rabbit Alice_par_John_Tenniel_02Time’s a ticking!

June 23, 2013

City Chalet for Sale

The neighbourhood where I was raised was designed by the landscape firm of Frederick Law Olmsted, and one of their main tenets was letting the land speak and direct the building. My neighbourhood was filled with steep hills and deep valleys. In fact, our house had 24 steps leading up to the front door!

There are a series of four or five houses that hang from the edge of a hillside, overlooking a 100+ year old forest and a small stream. They are the chalet houses and everyone who’s lived in the area knows them. These houses were all built in 1905.imageAnd they don’t come up for sale very often, because the people who own them love them so much that they tend to stay for decades, rather than just years. imageThey were designed by Edward Palmer of the firm Palmer Lamdin, who designed many of the more unique houses in the area. They are quirky and unusual, not your basic square brick four-over-four. Luckily, many of the original details remain, because these houses don’t change hand very often.

The house is cedar shake siding on a stone foundation. It is only accessible via a flight of stone stairs leading down from the road. It’s been neglected, which means that there are no ghastly updates. imageSo you find the original glass-fronted pantry doors, imageand cupboards in the pantry.

One of the great things about this house is the screened porches like you see at the end of this room.  imageI can personally attest to the fact that this part of the neighborhood is a good 5* to 10* cooler than any other part of the area in the summer, and being up in the treetops is a great feeling.

imageThis is the porch from the outside. imageIt looks like the house could do with a slap of paint and some sanding on the floors, which are probably original.

The cedar siding and the other woodwork emphasize the chalet-style feeling of this house. image

There’s a great old wooden staircase leading up to the second floor,imageand down to the ground floor, which leads out to a small patio.

Because the lot is so steep and wooded, there’s no lawn at all, which is great if you’re not into yardwork!image

This is an Instagram I took of the little road that meanders behind this house. deepdene

For more details about this quirky city chalet, please click here.

June 21, 2013

Ascot Hats

All day long, the song about Ascot from My Fair Lady has been running through my mind.

The best news of the day was that HM Queen Elizabeth II’s horse, Estimate, won the Ascot Gold Cup, the biggest race of Ascot Race week. She was so happy and excited by this win and it was just great to see that emotion.


She was due to present the Gold Cup to the winner, but instead, her son, Prince Andrew, presented the cup to her.

As usual, there were crazy hats galore at Ascot, and each year, they get more and more outlandish.

This one’s not so bad, but it’s probably a couture paper boat hat. image

Legos and little lightsimage

It’s hard to tell that there’s even a person in thereimage

She’s probably pulling in satellite signals from outer space.image

It’s not a scene from The Birds, it’s a hat.image

I love the UK, you can bet on pretty much anything.image

Purple it was!image

Preparing for the upcoming Royal birthimage

The gents have it a little easier – a morning suit and a topper.image

The dear Florence Claridge, looking a wee bit skeletal.image

Elegant and appropriateimage

HM looking exceedingly happy with her race manager.image As do Beatrice and Eugenieimage

As her jockey look on, HM gives her winning filly a pat on the nose.image

Guide dog Zoe gets into the act, but doesn’t look too happyimage

I’d say this gal got it pretty right.image

It’s always fun to see what the Ladies wear on Ladies’ Day at Ascot.