November 30, 2014

What I Have Been Doing

The past few days have certainly been a whirlwind! Thursday saw a meet-up with fellow blogger, CouldaWouldaShoulda (sorry,too hard to links) and a trip to the Royal Academy. We had a nice wander along Regents Street
and then a peek into the Ham Yard Hotel which is fabulous.
Some wonderful friends, who have just returned from two years in New York invited me for a lovely Thanksgiving dinner which made me very happy.

The next morning, I was off to Oxford to meet my cousins and have a tour of some of the colleges.






When I got back to London, I had a chance to meander along Oxford Street where Black Friday was in full swing.

Saturday was low key, just hanging on the boat where I had been staying and watching the world go by.

In the afternoon, I made my way to Alfie's Antique Market to meet up with my dear friend, The House of Beauty & Culture for a late and raucous lunch.

Happy to say he is well and hopes to get back to blogging!

Sunday was off to Wales to meet up with Dianne from Yonks and attend a country auction. I sat on my hands most of the time, but still managed to win one or two lots!

More later! I have taken tons of pictures and will take loads more, I am sure!


November 26, 2014

Poppies at the Tower

One of the things that was on the top of my London list was to seen the amazing commemoration of the centenary of the beginning of World War I. A public art project filled the moat around the Tower of London with more than 800,000 ceramic poppies, each representing someone who died during the war.





The installation is very dramatic and also very moving. While I wish I had been able to see the full effect, I got a good taste of what was done.

November 23, 2014

Radio Silence

I am heading off to the UK on holiday, and I am not taking along my computer. The last time I went, I lugged my laptop along, and realized that it kept me chained to my real life. So I am only taking a tablet, and iPhone, neither of which is conducive to doing a lot of writing. So, over the next two weeks, you might check in for sporadic posts, which will mainly be images. You might also check my Instagram account, where I will be posting the majority of images.

For those of you who receive the blog via e-mail, I am going to try and set up an RSS feed, but I haven’t had much luck with that in the past, so I hope it works this time! I will know when you know, and there will be enough time before I leave to make some adjustments if necessary!

I will be back to the regular posting schedule of Monday, Wednesday and Friday beginning December 8th!

November 21, 2014

Pink Flamingos

Or Female Trouble, or Hairspray! That might give you an idea of the lecture I attended on Thursday night.IMG_5936

If you want to see John speak, he’s heading off on a 17 city tour next week for his annual Christmas show! In Baltimore you can find tickets at Sound Stage, here.IMG_5929 He is a great raconteur and weaves funny stories in and out of his lectures. His newest book, Carsick, tells about his adventures hitch-hiking across the USA last summer. IMG_5930

I was lucky enough have my picture taken with him and it will be framed and put in a place of pride!IMG_5933

Although I see John around town all of the time, it was a lot of fun to spend an evening listening to him reminisce!

November 18, 2014

What I Am Reading

I am a perpetual reader and I can hardly sit still without reading something, even the cereal box. So when I received the “Interiors” catalogues from the Sotheby’s Auction of Mrs. Paul Mellon for my birthday (thanks, STC!), that was reading material for hours and days.IMG_5913

I wrote about the collection here, but the catalogues just blow the Sotheby’s website out of the water, coming in at something over 1,000 pages – almost 400 in the smaller catalogue, and 600+ in the larger one. They must weigh about 15 lbs.!

One of my newish fun reads is the Town & Country’s on-line magazine. They’re always running fun, but short pieces and I just read a great one entitled How to Collect Things Without Going Overboard, wherein they reference Mrs. Mellon’s collections image

and the sheer size, scope and depth of them!image

Some of the other recent pieces have been 10 Things You Need To Buy When You're In France, What Black Tie Means in 2014 (some people should have read this before last Saturday’s party!), 8 Reasons We Love a Camelhair Coat and many more. They’re not earth-shaking or rocket science, but they are fun to read!

November 16, 2014

Night at the Museum

Over the weekend, we celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the opening of the Baltimore Museum of Art, with a gala party in the museum’s galleries. It was the most amazing party, and I am so lucky that I had an opportunity to attend the dinner and then the after-party. image

It’s highly unusual for a museum to allow food and drink in the galleries with so much valuable artwork, but the BMA made an exception for this “Party of the Century” and allowed a number of the galleries to become small dinner parties. Each gallery’s d├ęcor echoed something in the paintings – the cloths and the flowers were all coordinated.IMG_5821IMG_5823IMG_5824IMG_5830IMG_5832IMG_5839

The modern art galleries had more contemporary arrangements, featuring loads of orchids, tulips and peonies, while the classical galleries had arrangements which were more befitting of them. IMG_5843

The flowers were absolutely spectacular! We had a chance to walk around before the party really started, and get a good look at the tables and flowers. IMG_5835

I took a little bit of time to look at some of my favourite decorative art galleries, which continue to be one of the Museum’s highlights for me.IMG_5846IMG_5848IMG_5850

This is such an incredible example of a gallery wall done right! The Museum has pulled paintings out that haven’t been displayed for years, and it was fun to see what they’d chosen and how they were hung.IMG_5849

The dinner was terrific and I had two great dinner partners who kept me entertained through the evening. One of the fun pieces of dinner was the luscious dessert which was a raspberry chocolate bombe, decorated with a picture of the Museum.IMG_5862

The after-party started about two hours after the dinner and featured two things that fill me with dread – interpretive dancers and performance art. There’s a lot of that I don’t understand, and certainly don’t even pretend to understand, like this guy in toe shoes sprawled down the Museum’s front stairs, or any of the other characters. imageIMG_5865IMG_5866IMG_5886There seemed to be an inordinate amount of bubble and saran wrap used in their costumes.

My village came together to help me get ready for the party, especially after an early morning phone call from the hair stylist saying she was sick. A few frantic phone calls later scared up a local salon who could fit me in during the late afternoon. Dozens of hair pins and a half a gallon of hairspray later, my up-do finally held, complete with diamond brooch!IMG_5819

I lost an earring within five minutes of arriving, but it was a cheapie, so I just took the other one out and didn’t bother looking for the one I dropped. People weren’t as dressed up as I assumed they would be, given the occasion. If I had known that, I might not have expended the effort and energy to have pulled my outfit together. Oh well!IMG_5822IMG_5875

The party was lots of fun, I saw a lot of old and new friends, and best of all, the Museum’s got a fabulous new renovation! All in all, a great evening!IMG_5896

Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to make this such a wonderful night!

November 13, 2014

Silvery Things

While I am in the UK, I plan on stocking up on one of my favourite things: bone-handled cutlery. I started collecting it years ago, when I’d find one piece here and another there, always knives. On the very rarest occasion, I’d find a fork, but not often. Martha Stewart started collecting this type of cutlery and sort of cornered the American market on it, and what pieces I did see, were way over priced.knives

Many of these are either butter knives or fruit knives, and if they’re highly decorated, they’re called fish knives. image

Sets like the one above are very rare in the US, but quite common in the UK. The handles are either French Ivory, which is a form of Bakelite, Ivorine, bone-effect or bone. The striations on the French Ivory are more regular than on bone or ivory. I have some of each. IMG_5628IMG_5634IMG_5640

You can find new pieces like these, but without the soul and character the old ones have. In fact, I found some similar-ish pieces at Target!

One one trip back to England, I thought I’d hunt for some spoons to go with the knives and forks, only to find they never made spoons. If you’ve been reading Pigtown*Design for a long time, you will know the story of one of my London friends having a set of spoons made for me.image You can read about the spoons here.

My friend Yonks and I are going to an auction in the Welsh countryside, and she assures me that there are a lot of old country-houses and farms in the area, so I am hoping that it means a lot of this silver! I would frequently find sets in cases, called caskets, which were in perfect condition and had rarely been used. image

What’s also interesting about these, is that while the blades and tines are EPNS (Electro-Plated Nickel Silver), the collars are actual silver, and therefore hallmarked, so you can tell the date of the pieces. image

I’ve sold nearly all of the pieces of this that I once had – seriously, I had more than 70 pieces of it when I moved back to the States – and thought I’d try and replenish my stocks in the UK. It will be easier to bring this back than a set of china! I still have a set of knives and forks that I use for my everyday silver and I love it.

Check my Etsy sidebar on the right to see when I am selling some of it!