December 31, 2014

December 30, 2014

2014: The Ones I Liked Best!

Last post, I wrote about the stories that resonated with you, the reader of Pigtown*Design. And now I am writing about the stories I liked the most.

1.  I spent hours in my friends’ garden throughout the year and loved having the opportunity to watch it grow and thrive, and then fade again. I am just waiting for some snow to get the final images in the series.imageimageimage

2.  One of the most beautiful houses in Baltimore was on the market and I shared it with you. imageimage

3.  Over the winter, and in an effort to ramp up our vitamin C quotient, we made a series of cocktails and other food items with pink grapefruit, including grapefruit vodka,image

pink grapfruit juice and gin, image

and candied grapefruit peel!image

4.  In April, I went to NYC for the launch of the amazing book, One Man's Folly: The Exceptional Houses of Furlow Gatewood. Honestly, it’s one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read! That’s Julia Reed who wrote the book!imageFurlow Gatewood and Bunny Williams.image

5.  I was thrilled to take you along with me on my trip to the UK earlier this fall. image

It was such a fun trip and I was so thrilled to be able to spend time with so many people who hold a place in my heart, like these three guys!image

All of my very best wishes for a safe New Year’s Eve and a Happy New Year!

December 29, 2014

2014: Year in Review

It’s amazing how quickly this year has passed. I am busier than I’ve ever been with my work at MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society doing fundraising, managing our 215-year old archives and curating our collection of 100+ paintings. My volunteer work includes chairing the Board at the Baltimore Architecture Foundation, and serving on the AIA Baltimore’s Board of Directors, and I also do social media and write a weekly column for Halcyon House Antiques in my spare time!

As I look through the more than 200 posts I’ve written in 2014, some have been wildly popular. I thought I’d recap the top five in terms of comments.

1.  Most recently was a story I did on a gorgeous old ruin of a house here in Baltimore. image

What was once a gorgeous old estate in the city has been left to go to ruin by its current owners – a local church. image

What a shame.

2.  One of the assignments I had at work this year was to refurbish one of the rooms in our 1909 offices. The room was a rather unfortunate shade of pink and had 1980’s era chintz curtains covering the beautiful windows. The millwork got lost in the pink. image

Working with my friends at C2 Paints, we re-did the room, and have just completed it. Here’s a sneak peek: imageimage

It’s amazing how the deep green paint, called Turtleback, brings out the architecture of the room. We’ve just finished hanging paintings and filling the bookshelves with historical books and artifacts. Stay tunes for a full reveal after the first of the year.

3.  I was at an auction earlier this summer where I {accidentally} bid on a set of china, here and here. The china I bought was basically an upgraded version of perennial favourite Blue Willow. image

Auctions are such fun and you can still get incredible bargains at them. Remember that not every auction is like the Bunny Mellon auction!

4.  I’ve written about the “Redneck Taj Mahal” a few times, and each time it elicits a horrified response from you. It’s a ghastly overwrought house in Southern Maryland, close to where I attended college. No discernable architectural style and no sense of proportion. imageimage

Too much money and not enough good taste!

5.  Shabby Chic. Two words that together make me cringe. Shabby Chic images proliferate the ranks of Pinterest and most things that are marked as that, are possibly shabby and certainly not chic. Ball jars, burlap and chipped paint do not make something chic by any stretch of the imagination!imageimage

All of these gals with shabby chic weddings are going to look back at their pictures and wonder what they hell they were thinking!

Which post was your favourite in 2014? I’d love to know!

December 23, 2014

Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols {Repost}

One of the most important parts of my run up to Christmas is listening to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve morning as I am preparing for the festivities later on in the day. This is a quiet contemplation of what Christmas is all about, and comes from the spectacular King's College Chapel in Cambridge, England. imageThe BBC's weekly radio newsletter puts it beautifully:

As the winter evening shadows lengthen, a solo chorister sings the first verse of “Once in Royal David's City” in the expectant stillness of King's College Chapel, Cambridge. The experience we have here is shared with millions around the world...

The solo chorister is chosen minutes before the service begins so that he won't have time to get nervous. Every time I hear the opening notes of "Once in Royal David's City", I just burst into tears. There's just something so moving about this. Kings College ChoirThe Festival was something that my father and I both loved deeply and I was lucky enough to spend a summer afternoon at King's College Chapel with him and my mother. I have an abiding image in my mind of my father and his sister as children in England listening to the service on their old radio while their father prepared their Christmas dinner.kings college cambridge[3]There's a lovely line in the service about remembering "all those who rejoice with us, but on another shore and in a greater light", which was a reference to those lost during the Second World War, although I used to think it referred to my grandfather in England.

The Nine Lessons tradition began in 1918 and has only not happened once, in 1930. The service continued during WWII even though the magnificent stained glass windows of the chapel had been removed for safekeeping. Kings college windowsYou can listen to this service on BBC World Service or on public radio stations in the US. It is usually repeated on Christmas Day.

Updated and reprinted from Pigtown Design, December 2007/2013

December 21, 2014

Baltimore Holiday Traditions

Baltimore’s holiday traditions are as unique as the city itself. As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, and finish up with Chanukah, I thought I’d share some of our traditions with you.

Biggest and most well-known is the Miracle on 34th Street, where the whole block decorates!imageimage

We hang lights from the newly restored Washington Monument, and then shoot fireworks from it!image

Each neighbourhood decorates with as many lights as possible!image

There is even a Chanukah House here. It’s one half of a duplex. Can you imagine living in the other half?image

And they light a giant menorah downtown. The candles are actually old street-lights.image

The Lighted Boat Parade is always fun, and being on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, almost every waterfront community hosts a parade.image

The Mayor’s Christmas Parade takes place about a block from my house.image

One of the city’s fire stations builds an annual Christmas train garden. image

What are the traditions where you live? Anything special?

December 18, 2014

The Christmas House: 2014 Edition

My dear friend Andrea, who owns Bosom Buddy Bags, is one of the most creative people that I know. Anything that she turns her hand to is creative, beautiful and elegant. She’s also an animal lover and has adopted several cats and dogs over the years, including this sweet boy.IMG_7685

Each year, during the festive season, she hosts an open house to benefit the Maryland SPCA, where she got her dogs. This year’s house was the most beautiful that I’ve seen so far. IMG_7608

Andrea set out the most sumptuous buffet, complete with a huge candy-bar for the children (and adults). IMG_7620

She had the cutest cupcakes I’ve ever seen – it was hard to eat them because they were so adorable! The children were just enchanted with these guys!
IMG_7622 IMG_7624

The flowers were just stunning, as they always are. Andrea was a floral designer for many years and her arrangements are always works of art!IMG_7606IMG_7638IMG_7645

And then there were the trees! IMG_7642More than 260 of them! Tiny, small, medium, huge! All sorts of shapes and sizes. And dozens and dozens of bottle brush trees all over the house. IMG_7691IMG_7697IMG_7653IMG_7655IMG_7671IMG_7612

And the small details made all of the difference. IMG_7634IMG_7669IMG_7695

All in all, a wonderful evening, hosted by a fun couple, IMG_7660to benefit a great organization – the Maryland SPCA!