August 29, 2013

Ready for the Weekend?

It’s the long Labor Day weekend here in the States, and there’s lots happening. But first, some updates!

It’s been pretty much decided that the doorknobs are really Mark Twain. No word whether the owner of the house agrees, but I’ve gotten some irrefutable evidence that it’s Mark, including this from my dear Flo…

Best thing I've found so far is this similar-looking doorknob, similar in that the material/metal appears to be the same, and the crappy casting job appears to be the same, the spacing of the head/bust within the circle are alike, the raised ridges do not occur in the same sequences,man on the face is of the similar doorknob is identified by the auction house as Robert E Lee - which THEN made me wonder What do Twain and Lee have in common so that there would be doorknobs made of them, ah! maybe some earnest foundry produced a great-Americans series of doorknobs at the turn of the century.image

Also, my friend Ben, aka General Rubric, who is the owner of Housewerks Salvage, said this:

Before I even read the background, I thought it looked like Mark Twain, who was at the height of his fame in the early 20th century and the fact that there are other similar knobs would seem to support that these knobs bear his likeness. I am not so sure he needs to have a Baltimore connection in order for someone to appreciate his likeness in their home. You could also try and contact the American Doorknob Collectors Association for additional insights…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Thanks to everyone who took the time to take the survey I posted. If you haven’t taken it yet, there is still a little time. I will be picking a name from those who responded (and left their contact information) on September 1. You can take the survey here. There have been some excellent suggestions, great comments, and good ideas. I will be compiling the results this weekend and it will help me improve and build a better blog.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It was a gorgeous evening and the grass had just been cut, so I took advantage of it all and sat outside with Connor for a little while and contemplated the day. Of course, I had to fire up the chandelier that’s hanging from my mulberry tree. There’s nothing better than sitting outside on a quite late-summer’s evening.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

If you remember the pillows that I made for my friends a month or so ago, I got a commission to make another set… for a big deal author!
KT test 1 KT test 2

I will be whipping them up this weekend and shipping them off for her to put in her rental cottage on Tybee Island, Georgia.

I will also be adding some more items to my Etsy shop!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Other than that, a couple of dinners, some meet-ups with friends, and some general work around the house, not much happening over the weekend. What about you?

August 28, 2013

Help Find This Mystery Man!

I got an e-mail from a reader asking me to help figure out who a specific man of mystery is. Since I don’t know, I thought I’d throw it out to you to see if you can help. doorknob 1

Here’s the background from RKMW:

We are looking to find out who the man on all of our door-knobs is. The house was originally built around 1850, renovated around turn of the century (doorknobs are in keeping with late 1800 to early 1900 style, so probably from turn of the century). Later renovations preserved architectural details (including the doorknobs).

We believe it was originally a single family home, but later came to be a "family hotel", and we've seen letters indicating that immediately after the 1904 fire, one of the counsel for the B&O Railroad either lived there or had offices there (or both).

The suspicion is that it is Mark Twain, and that all of the knobs were added during the early 1900’s renovation, but Twain doesn’t have a close enough connection with Baltimore for that to be the case – unless someone was a huge fan.

There’s an auction site with the same doorknob, describing it as Mark Twain, but I am still doubtful. image

Because many of the early building records were destroyed during a massive fire that leveled Baltimore in 1904, it’s often hard to find early records. The house was designed by some “famous local architects”, so once I find out who they are, I can check some of our records at the Baltimore Architecture Foundation and see if there’s any information.

Here’s another view from an auction house that lists it as “thought to be Mark Twain”.image

Usually, the images of Mark Twain have him with much wilder hair.image

So, any thoughts to help identify our mystery man?

August 27, 2013

New Words in the OED*

The *Oxford English Dictionary has just released their list of new words added this year. I love words and especially like to learn new ones. While I am fairly certain I won’t be using some most of these, others are quite good.

Selfie is one of the new words, and although I took one, once, I doubt it will be come a part of my every day language.image

Omnishambles is an excellent word, and it probably more appropriate to use in conversation than the similar-meaning cluster-f**k. imageThe definition is thus: a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations.

Digital Detox is something that I think I should take advantage of a little more frequently.imageI really try and limit my computer use on the weekends, and try and leave my phone in an inconvenient spot.

But then that brings on my FOMO, fear of missing out!

Chandelier earrings imageand fauxhawksimage both seem a little too old to be included, but it did allow me to add a picture of David Beckham, so it’s all good.

This may be getting a bit TL:DR for you now (too long, didn’t read), so I will sign off now. TTFN.

August 26, 2013

More Lettuce (sort of)

I wrote about the Lettuce Ware last week and right after that I went to a huge yard sale at the Greek Church close to my office, as I mentioned yesterday. One of the things that I picked up was two green leaf plates.

Not lettuce ware, but green majolica.

Of course, the first thing I did was flip them over, as I do to pretty much any china I see (that’s not in a private home!). I am always so interested in the maker’s marks. When I was looking up to see if I could find any information about plates similar to these, which are unmarked, I discovered that Wedgwood also made a lettuce leaf-style plate.image

The Wedgwood pattern seems to come in several iterations including a dark green, a leafier green and white.image

There also seems to be a huge price range on these plates on Ebay, ranging from $9.00 to $70.00 for one plate!image

Some of the plates are lettuce/cabbage leaves and others are strawberry leaves.image

I am always amazed that you hear or read about something, and then all of a sudden it appears everywhere! What fun!

August 25, 2013

Weekend Update: Late August

What a gorgeous weekend we had here in the mid-Atlantic. Clear, cool and cloud-free! In fact, on Saturday night, I was chilly. I had been at a dinner and we ate outside. Once the sun went down, the temperature fell to about 61* and I got a chill. I had to turn on the heated seats in my car on the way home! In August!!! Who’d have ever thought. The whole evening was worth every second, especially getting to meet the host’s newest acquisition, Miss Peale, on the left. The one on the right is going to live with friends! Not a whole lot cuter than a couple of eight-week old Jack Russells!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I had planned to go to an auction on Saturday morning, but about halfway there, I decided that it was too pretty a morning to spend it inside at the auction rooms. There were really only a few lots that I was interested in, and they had high estimates on them or else there was more in the lot that I didn’t want than what I did want.

I’d have liked to swoop up this bar-cart, but I don’t really have a place in my house for it. Also, it was a bit too orange for me.

Maybe it was owned by the same person who owned these crazy Mid-Century Modern chairs!

I liked this lot of silverplate, but I still have a bunch of pieces from the last auction.

I did go to a yard sale Saturday morning and grabbed this fun piece.lightI haven’t decided what I am going to do with it yet. Any suggestions?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Friday morning, I went to the huge annual yard sale at the Greek Church that’s a half a block from our offices. What a bonanza! imageSince I was practically the first person there, I got first pick. imageIsn’t there a whole genre of blogs of vlogs that just show the “haul” from a shopping trip? Ugh. There were three or four other rooms filled with furniture, books and baby and children’s gear. I am sure that they made a ton of money to support the good works that the church does – in fact, they were very generous to the children at the organization where I used to work.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I want to thank everyone who took the time to fill out the survey I had last week. If you didn’t yet have a chance to answer the fewer than 20 questions, there’s still time. The survey is here. Anyone who fills out the survey before September 1st, and leaves their name, will be entered into a drawing for Mark Hampton’s On Decorating book. Your input will be invaluable as I move forward with Pigtown*Design! Thanks!

August 22, 2013

Peach & Bourbon Preserves

My neighbour, an older Greek man who is the most amazing gardener, brought me over some peaches from one of his trees. While they weren’t the biggest or the most beautiful peaches, I know that they were grown with love, and without lots of chemicals. Since I had just gotten some Maryland peaches the day earlier, I pondered what I could do with them. I remembered last year when Mr. Stephanos had given me some figs, I made fig & bourbon jam from them, so I thought Peach and Bourbon are a great combination, so why not try it.

I hunted around for a recipe, and found a simple one – basically meaning one that meant I didn’t have to leave the house to get any of the ingredients. The recipe came from the Chicago Tribune and it was so easy.peach & bourbon preserves (4)

I wasn’t sure how much my peaches weighed, so I just estimated. I also didn’t have any tapioca, so I used some pectin to help it gel.

To make skinning the peaches easier, I did the boiling water/ice bath technique.
peach & bourbon preserves (2)

Put the fruit/veg in boiling water for about 30 seconds, but not long enough to start it cooking, and then plunge into a bowl of ice-water. The skins will peel right off. This is great for tomatoes, too!

I cut up the peaches, but perhaps not as small as suggested and then added everything to the pot. I added one of the peach pits because, if I remember correctly, they impart some pectin.

After about five minutes, everything began to boil and soften. Oh, where it says to add a half-teaspoon of bourbon? Ha! It was more like a half a cup. I also used sugar that had a vanilla bean in it. peach & bourbon preserves (5)

After cooking for another ten minutes, it was really starting to break down, but to hurry it along, I gave it a couple of wizzes with my immersion blender.

Then I decanted the jam into some of my Weck jars. It was pretty true to the recipe and made about two cups. I got four of the small jars with a 5.4 oz. capacity and one with a 12 oz. capacity.

The peaches might be a little chunkier than I like, but that’s okay. I checked the jam/preserves this morning and the jam had set nicely. The bit I tasted last night was good, but I think that after sitting a little while, it will be even better!

For the recipe, click on the image to enlarge it, or click on this Chicago Tribune link.

August 21, 2013

New Quiz!

Well, not actually a quiz, but a survey. After writing Pigtown*Design for more than seven years, almost 1,900 posts and too many topics to even fathom, I want to stay fresh and relevant!imageI’ve come up with a short list of questions – fewer than 20 – and would love it if you take the survey and answer honestly. Your input will help me make Pigtown*Design an even better and more interesting blog for you to read.

I want to know what you like, how you read the blog, what you’d like to see more of, and several other simple questions. You can click here to take the survey. You will be taken to Survey Monkey’s site to complete the survey.image

As a thank you for taking the survey, I will have a drawing and everyone who takes the survey and leaves their e-mail address will be eligible. The prize will be a copy of Mark Hampton’s On Decorating, one of the bibles of decorating and still a classic.image

The drawing will take place on September 1, 2013. Thank you so much for taking the time to help me!

August 20, 2013

Lettuce Entertain You!

A few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal had a piece about Lettuce Ware, about which I was vaguely aware. Apparently, C.Z. Guest collected it and had tons of pieces of all sorts. This is some of her collection in her kitchen. image

As you might expect, pieces like Lettuce Ware were produced in England during the 18th and 19th centuries. Doesn’t it seem like one of those things that Victorians would love? Of course, around the same time, Majolica from Portugal and Spain started coming into fashion as well, but it wasn’t as realistic as the English pieces.

American potteries such as Wanopee, a no-longer-existing Connecticut company, and Dodie Thayer, from Florida, produced Lettuce Ware. The Duchess of Windsor, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Brooke Astor were all collectors of Dodie Thayer’s Lettuce.image

JBKO’s 20 piece Dodie Thayer Lettuce collection went for almost $7,000 at auction, while Brooke Astor’s 218 piece collection went for over $75,000, even though the estimate was only $9,000! You’ve got to have a lot of confidence to serve a dinner on this, although I’d see it more as luncheon ware. And, of course, it would be only one of your sets of china!

If pieces like this one, on 1st Dibs are a little out of your price range, imageyou can check Ebay and thrift shops for similar pieces. I recently found this small tureen at a local thrift shop. It’s marked “Holland”, so not the good stuff, but it’s a great little piece, nevertheless. It could start me on a whole new area of collections!

Click the links for articles about Lettuce Ware and Dodie Thayer.

August 19, 2013

The Coasters

A few months ago, my friend Wendy came to spend a day or two with me on the way back to NYC from the inauguration festivities in nearby Washington, DC. Wendy was so excited telling me about her new venture, something that she was doing with her sister, Debbie, which was the polar opposite of her high-stress job in television news.

Wendy and Debbie started D&W Stone Crafts which makes custom Travertine marble coasters for your preferred drink. The coasters all have cork bases, so they won’t scratch your furniture. image

Wendy creates the designs and Debbie makes the coasters. imageWhile Wendy was here, I introduced her to my friends at With Gratitude, and we conspired to come up with some designs for our favourite football team, which would shortly go on to win the SuperBowl! imageWendy finished the designs within a few days, and Pam & Courtney picked up the finished coasters when they were in NYC later that week, just in time for the Ravens to win their playoff game, and for the coasters to completely sell out!

Since then, Wendy and Debbie have come up with dozens of new designs. Some of the designs are general sports, or location related, imageand others have custom designs, requested by customers. imageAll of the photographs on D&W Stone Crafts’ page are so well-styled and really show off the product. image

Click here to watch a short video about Wendy and Debbie’s business. And then take a look at D&W’s on-line shop here. Way to go, girls!