January 29, 2015

A Gem of a Mystery

I love reading mystery books, and started on Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys when I was quite young. In fact, I am pretty sure I packed a couple of mysteries to read when we were in Vermont. image

When I graduated to grown-up mysteries, I remember discovering the books by Barbara Michaels, aka Elizabeth Peters, but really Barbara Mertz. I found that she lived outside of Baltimore and liked her even more. She was a prolific novelist, but also an acclaimed Egyptologist, with a PhD in the subject from the University of Chicago.

She also had an amazing collection which is set to be auctioned in Baltimore on February 5th at Alex Cooper Auctioneers, a place with which I am a little too familiar. The collection has a strong classical influence, and there are some stunning pieces.

Egyptian Revival enameled 18K gold necklaceimage

Pair of 14K gold mounted carved lava earringsimage

Gold and aquamarine broochimage

Victorian seed pearl parureimage

Edwardian 14K gold & colored gemstone necklaceimage

Pair of 14K white gold, opal & diamond earringsimage

Art Nouveau style diamond and ruby ringimage

Impressive Victorian diamond floral brooch/comb from Garrards, Londonimage

Two Native American silver & turquoise itemsimage

There are almost 200 lots in this auction, and really, something for anyone. Take a look at the catalogue, here.

January 27, 2015

Two Words That Make Me Cringe!

I was reading something on-line and came across this statement:

It’s a hand-curated roundup of tips I don’t share elsewhere.

That one little sentence just made me shudder! Of course, it’s hand-curated, you picked out the tips, you typed them in, and you shared them. Unless you swiped them from someone else, they’re hand-curated. But you should know what the word really means before you use it.


Not everything that is collected or assembled is curated. I am sick of seeing some curating Tweets, or that one should “curate the selection from Instagram” or other such nonsense. I realize that English is a very flexible language, but the saying that you’ve “hand-curated” your pinterest tips diminishes actual museum curators who have spent years learning about the art in their museums.

It’s just so inauthentic.

Which brings me to my next word: authentic. Funnily, as I switched screens and went to check Facebook, this was at the top of my feed:


Of course, the next sentence did nothing to alleviate my nausea: The platform will be a unique opportunity for emerging designers to connect with a new marketplace of design lovers, and for consumers to discover authentic products. The platform will expose an intimate number of designers each day across four disciplines: graphic art, jewelry, homeware and accessories. 

And, might I ask, what is “homeware?”

imageMeet Mr. Authentic Homeware Designer and his emerging unique opportunities.

I am afraid that I have to disagree a bit with this definition of authentic:image

How do you be both real or genuine and at the same time be made to be just like an original? One of these things is not the authentic description. Isn’t everything, in its own way, authentic? It’s such a broad description that it can apply to anything.

This is someone on Etsy. Are her children authentic, too?image

When you strive to become authentic, do you automatically become less so?

Your thoughts?

January 25, 2015

I’ll Take This: House in Town

There’s a house that I drive by with some regularity and I noticed recently that it was on the market. I finally remembered to look it up, and imagine my delight when I saw that it was a terrific place, both inside and out. A really unique house for the center of the city. image

It certainly doesn’t look like the center of the city, does it?image

It’s one of a row of houses set back from the street, with a small fenced front garden. Luckily, these few houses remained when there was some ghastly urban renewal done just up the block.image

When you enter the house, you see that it’s light and airy, and the d├ęcor holds true to the period of the house, probably mid 1800’s.image

There look to be a number of working fireplaces in the house, which is a real bonus.image

There’s a large dining room with some interesting woodwork, and the up-to-the-second Marsala walls.image

The kitchen is contemporary, and what’s that I see peeking out of the back? A second staircase. If you’ve ever had one in a house, you will know who valuable it is!image

Here’s the main staircase.image

The house has four bedrooms, although it looks like they’re not all being used as that. It looks like they’re using one of the bedrooms as a pool room. I’d hate to be the one moving the pool table! Notice the Raven on the light fixture!image

This looks like a sitting room on the third floor with another working fireplace. image

This looks like it might be the master bedroom.image

And the bath, with a bidet! (I would have taken the robe off the back of the door.)image

Or maybe this is the master?image

Another bath. There must be really tall people living here because the mirrors are SO high!image

There’s even a work-out room with heart-beats along the wall.image

And another bedroom! Isn’t that more than four?image

There’s a porch off the back side of the house. imageThe gardens of some of these houses are amazing! Because there’s such a small amount of space for a garden, people really do a lot with the space. And with all the trees, the porch would be nice and private during the summer.image

The house’s style is listed as a Charleston Colonial and it is 4,700 square feet. It’s on the market for $599,000. Details are here.

January 22, 2015

Wellcome Images

When I was in London last year, I frequently went by the Wellcome Collection’s building on Euston Road, and saw this massive sign hanging in front of their building advertising a year-long exhibition.image

The Wellcome Trust, the London-based global charitable organization which owns the Wellcome Collection, has just made more than 100,000 images from their collections available on-line in high resolution. imageWellcome Images is a medical picture library and the world's leading source of images on medicine and its history.Most of the images have been licensed under the Creative Commons act and are free to download and use.image

The images range from manuscripts, paintings and etchings, to early photography and advertisements, the oldest being a 2000 year old Egyptian prescription on papyrus! imageBecause the funds from the Wellcome Trust came from the pharmaceutical industry, their collection has a high concentration of medical images. image

Each image has full reference information included.image

It’s just fun to wander through the collection and see what’s available for your amusement! Click here to look! You’re welcome.

January 20, 2015

The One That Got Away…

Or maybe not.

When I was in Wales last month, we had a fun evening out at the local B&Q, which is the equivalent of Home Depot, right down to the garish orange logo. We were looking at wallpapers, ostensibly for Andy’s new house, but really for me. As we hunted around the wallpaper aisles, and who wouldn’t want to push this gorgeous kid around in a trolley hunting for wallpaper, IMG_6928we came across a print that I just fell in love with! And then we found it had been discontinued. Natch! IMG_6929

The ground was pale blue and it had metallic accents, but they’re very subtle. Andy bought a couple of the remaining rolls for his house, and I contemplated buying one roll for my house, but I kept thinking of my luggage allowance, all the things I’d gotten at auction and at some antique charity shops, including lots of cutlery, and I decided against it.


I’ve been thinking of it ever since, and I have also been wanting to do something with my bedroom. So I went onto Ebay.co.uk and found a couple of rolls of it, and am contemplating ordering it. Even with the shipping, it will still be less expensive than if I had purchased it in Wales.  wallpaper

Now the big question is do I want to get it in white, or pale blue, which they call teal?image




January 18, 2015

Portrait of a Pup

You might remember last summer, when Connor and I spent the afternoon with artist, Sam Robinson, so Connor could have his portrait painted. Sam and his wife, Barbara, took lots of photographs of Connor and captured some great poses – after we calmed Connor down a bit. I was given one of the portraits later in the summer and I loved it to bits! It captured Connor on his favourite patchwork quilt, which usually is in the back of the car to prevent him from sliding on the leather seats. IMG_2733

Well, just after the New Year, I was with the same friends, and they gave me the other painting of Connor – one I didn’t know had been painted. Apparently, Sam did a small study of Connor before he painted the picture above. It’s such a sweet picture, and really captures Connor’s big brown eyes, fuzzy head and funny ears.


As Connor’s time winds down, I know that I will treasure these pictures forever.

I am going to hang the study with three terrific sketches that were done by my friend Lady Rosie West. image

As I look at this sketch, it’s exactly the same position Connor was in this afternoon when I snapped a picture of him. IMG_8236He loves to tuck into the corner of the old wing chair, now covered with a large painter’s cloth. He sleeps there about 23.5 hours a day now.

Speaking of dogs, my friend Andrea’s daughter just got this adorable GoldenDoodle puppy over the weekend. IMG_8265I was so tickled to have the chance to meet little Natty this afternoon. IMG_8267

It almost makes me want to get a puppy!