April 29, 2014

A Country House in Virginia

My friend Keith posted some gorgeous pictures on Facebook over the weekend and when he mentioned the name of the house, I thought it sounded familiar. imageAfter pondering it for a few minutes, I realized that it’s owned by the aunt of a very good friend, and that he decorated it. image

The house was on the market briefly this spring, but it’s already been snapped up. I remembered that there were some images of the interiors of this house online, so I thought I’d share them with you.

The house was built in the late 1810’s and was very sympathetically restored over a four-year period. This is the view from the other side of the top image. The house is sited on the top of a hill, placed to catch the summer breezes. image

The house is furnished mainly in European antiques, and of those, mainly French ones. The attention to detail is amazing, from the brass rail around the top of the wall for hanging the paintings to the chandelier and the bust placed perfectly. image

Even though there are numerous priceless antiques and textiles in the house, it retains a feeling of warmth. I love all of the books arranged on the table. I know the owner is a lover of words. image

The previous kitchen was too modern for the house and so it was replaced with one more sympathetic to the property. Although the original kitchen is in the cellar, there’s a summer kitchen in an out-building that’s now a guest house. image

The house was designed by an architect who worked on the plans for the University of Virginia with Thomas Jefferson, and another Charlottesville firm oversaw the restoration and decoration of the property.

Lush is one of the words that comes to mind when you see the interiors of the house, but everything has been chosen with great care and excellent taste. image

Her collection of china is something I’d like to see in person!image

The owner’s moving on now, to someplace a little smaller than the 110-acre estate with 10 buildings, and to a place that doesn’t need renovations or restorations. The house was recently open for a garden tour, and thousands of people stopped in to see it, perhaps getting a last look at this amazing house and its beautiful rooms.

Thanks to Keith MacKay and to the WSJ for the images!

April 28, 2014

Shelfie: The New Selfie

I was reading the Wall Street Journal this afternoon and noticed an article entitled “The Rise of the Shelfie”. Naturally, I had to read it and see what it was all about. The second header said it all: Self-indulgent ego trip—or a thoughtful way to show off your great taste on social media?

Apparently, it’s an Instagram phenomenon to take pictures of your “well-curated” (cue teeth grinding) shelf or shelf-like space and show off your goods. I have no patience for that well- and carefully-arranged vignette of your bed in the morning covered with all manner of things, or what’s in your handbag (ohh, Chanel lippie). But I do like a shelfie like this:imageOf course, it was David Hicks who first started the “shelfie” concept when he coined the concept of tablescapes. imageHe arranged things according to colour or type and it all looked gorgeous. imageFor Hicks, the concept wasn’t about being conspicuous in showing off what he had, it was in the arrangements of the pieces and how they fit together.image

What we’re seeing in many of today’s shelfies is the showing off of possessions, many arranged over hours to get the right light and look. It’s the “museum of you”, as is so much of what we do today. image

However, the WSJ cautions that there are clich├ęs in shelfies, and warns against them. Here are some of them:

  • The Stunning Espresso Foam Design
  • The Haunting Glass Cloche
  • The Casual Magazine Tableau
  • The Evocative Pair of Spectacles

What do you think about this trend? Over-sharing and narcissistic or artistic?

Tally Ho!

That’s actually more of a fox-hunting cry than a horse-racing cry, but I will use it anyway! Saturday was the big race in town… or the second biggest race. There’s another one next month sometime. This was the 118th running of the Maryland Hunt Cup, one of the most notoriously difficult timber races in the country. In fact, the winner of this race gets an automatic invitation to the English Grand National.

But before the race begins, there’s much tail-gating and socializing to be done. The centerpiece of our picnic was this gorgeous flower arrangement, in the silver Hunt Cup trophy that had been won by our friend’s father. Because spring is so late this year, the pickings were a bit slimmer than last year’s flowers, but it was gorgeous, none-the-less, and got many admiring comments.

Everyone in our group brings something, from fabulous deviled eggs, which are always snapped up in a hurry, to fried chicken, to asparagus, to desserts. My Pimento Cheese was a success and everyone who tried it raved about it… or they were being nice and saying so. Sadly, as I was unpacking after the picnic, I dropped the little tureen that I’d taken to the picnic, and it shattered into a million little pieces.


The fun thing about tailgating is the friends who stop by, spend a few minutes and then move on. It’s like a movable feast and it’s such fun to see old friends and new. Our friend, and Antiques Roadshow “personality”, Michael Flanigan explains the betting to our friend’s son.MF&GCG

And seriously, isn’t this just the cutest kid? GCGActually, he’s second cutest…

There was a bookie there to take bets, and the horse I was interested in, Foyle, was topping the list. Its jockey, Sam Waley-Cohen, is an English rider who is good friends with Princes William and Harry. He’s an amateur rider and won the prestigious Cheltenham Gold Cup a few years ago, against several dozen professional jump jockeys.

Our friend, Sam Robinson, was on hand to paint pictures of the scenes around him, and luckily, the weather was perfect and the clouds were artistic!

I’d say he got it just about right!

Finally, it was time for the call to the post and the riders were off.

The fences that the horses are jumping are timber fences, one of the reasons that this is such a difficult race.

Twenty-two fences, four miles  and nine minutes later,

it was a photo-finish, with the eventual winner being Guts to Garters. My horse? It fell at the 16th fence, and both rider and horse were fine when I saw them trotting back to the finish line.

And the cutest kid at the Hunt Cup? It was my nephew!JWF

My parents took us to the Hunt Cup when we were children and now my brother’s taking his children. Three generations of our family were at the race!

April 24, 2014

Pimento Cheese

I did not grow up eating things like Pimento Cheese. I think that my British father’s influence didn’t allow for things like this, but went more towards cucumber sandwiches, raspberry tarts and rhubarb crisps. So pimento cheese is something that’s new to me. When I was in NYC earlier this month for the launch of One Man's Folly: The Exceptional Houses of Furlow Gatewood, he and John Rosselli had whipped up several large batches of Pimento Cheese for the guests. It was delicious, and I heard it was simple to make.

On Saturday, I am joining some of the same friends from the book launch to go to the Maryland Hunt Cup, about which I wrote, here. I threw out my intention to make Pimento Cheese on FB, and got all sorts of answers and suggestions. My friend Will strongly suggested I use the recipe found in Garden & Gun Magazine. So, that’s the one I used.

I stopped by the grocery store to pick up the fixins for the Pimento Cheese, and then swung by to have dinner with “the boys”. Since the have more of a familiarity with PC than I do, I asked them to mix it up for me.

Here’s the recipe, courtesy of Garden & Gun Magazine.

Pimento Cheese
Yield: About 1 pint (serves 4 as an appetizer)
2 cups sharp orange cheddar, grated (8 oz.)
½ cup Duke’s mayonnaise
½ cup pimiento peppers, drained and chopped (7-oz. jar)
¼ cup green onion, chopped (use both the green and the white parts)
1 tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cayenne
Dash of Tabasco
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, and stir with a rubber spatula. Serve immediately with crackers, or cover, refrigerate, and let flavors marinate.

Chad chopped the spring onions into a small dice, which means no big chunks in the PC.

Then he drained and re-chopped the pimentos into a small dice.

Add the rest of the ingredients, being sure to use Duke’s Mayonnaise, which doesn’t have any sugar in it, and combine. I cheated and used shredded cheese, with the fine shred, instead of grating my own. I have a fear of grating off bits of skin, so I tend not to use a grater.

We weren’t exact on any of the measurements, and actually ended up adding a little more hot sauce and some more pepper.

You can either eat it right away or refrigerate it for a day or two to let the flavours deepen. I am going to put it into a sweet little Copeland tureenand serve it on petit pain grille, or mini toasted breads.

While I was with the boys, we continued with our Limoncello project. The vodka and lemons have been sitting for about a month now, so it was time to add the simple syrup and let it sit for another week or two.

Someone’s in the kitchen!

April 23, 2014

Sails & Tails

You might remember that I wrote about the Canine Companions for Independence a few months ago.puppy1 I was so impressed with the work that they do providing companion dogs to those who need them.image The local chapter is having its big fundraiser, Sails and Tails, in Annapolis Maryland this weekend, and if you’re in the area, I encourage you to go. puppy 3

Information about the event is here. puppy 2If you can’t support this event for Canine Companions, please support your local chapter. puppy 5

Thank you!

April 22, 2014

High Point: More Favourites

I took hundreds of pictures when I was in High Point earlier this month, and there are still more great things that I haven’t shared yet!

I went to see Barry Dixon’s new line of furnishings for Tomlinson. This was the most amazing fixture! It just glowed from within.

I love how much attention he pays to the little details that bring a piece from ordinary to extraordinary.

Williamsburg brand continues to impress me. After we got to be “friends” on Pinterest, they invited me to see their HP showrooms. Their tagline is “Trend Meets Tradition”. They are taking pieces from their extensive archives and giving them a modern twist.

One of the best pieces I saw at HP was their new mirror, which comes in two sizes.

Williamsburg is also doing lighting, which was terrific.

Each piece is a reflection of something in the village of Williamsburg – a fence, a chair-back or an item in the collections.

They have a series of drum lights that are painted in the original bright and vibrant colours that were in the earliest houses in Williamsburg.The pull on the light was taken from a finial on the top of a building.

I always make a point to stop by and see what William Yeoward has to show, and this visit didn’t disappoint. Last market, his signature table had a fox head, and this year, it’s a ram’s head.

The detail on his pieces is always amazing, and it’s also personal – each piece has a story.

The legs on this piece are modeled after an old briar walking stick and the table top is carved leather, after a William Morris pattern.

The legs on this piece reference an old Jacobean barley-twist piece.

Of course, it’s Yeoward’s beautiful hurricane with Greek keys that adds the final touch!