May 31, 2016

Scenes from an Early Summer Weekend

Phew! My two month spate of non-stop events has almost come to an end… just a few stragglers over the next two weeks and then the summer is blissfully quiet (ha! just jinxed that!).

Our weather in May has just been ghastly. Rain, cool temps and cloudy skies. Luckily, the long weekend wasn’t a complete washout, and we managed to get a couple of great events in. IMG_1035

Saturday started with the best yard sale ever! My friends are collectors, and at auctions, when you buy a box lot, you take the whole thing, whether you want it or not. Mostly, you just want one piece, so what do you do with everything else? You have a massive yard sale!IMG_1013IMG_1015IMG_1017IMG_1019

Of course, I picked up a couple of things, and I had to go back on Monday, just to check out what was left! Here’s what I got:

Three fun urns. Planted them with red, pink and white geraniums.IMG_1033

English transferware blue & white plate.IMG_1075

Here’s the back-stamp. IMG_1031

Black jasperware Wedgwood box. IMG_1085

French porcelain pin dish. Nothing funnier than musical cats!IMG_1087

Of course, what else do you do over a long week-end than have a glorious dinner outside in the country garden? Although the day had been hot, a breeze came in late in the afternoon and made it comfortable to sit at this beautiful table outside on the lawn to celebrate a friend’s 50th birthday. IMG_1064

But first, a stroll around the garden, which is a few weeks late in blooming. IMG_1045IMG_1047IMG_1049IMG_1055IMG_1057

The weekend ended with a cookout with great friends filled with lots of laughter and love. It’s such fun spending time with friends who make you laugh so hard that you cry.

How was your long weekend? What did you do?

May 24, 2016

Photoshopping a Lecture

As I may have mentioned, I gave a lecture on Social Media for the Design/Decorating Profession last week. However, this week’s lecture could not be more polar opposite. Luckily, I am not the one actually giving the lecture, just producing it. But that’s taking loads of time. After next week, things get much better!

The lecture is at my office, which is the state’s medical society. We were founded in 1799, and have an extensive archive from which I draw much inspiration, as you’ve seen. This year’s history of medicine in Maryland lecture is Tales from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Sort of our own personal version of CSI.

As soon as we decided on the topic, I knew what image I’d use for the invitation. I had found it in our archives about a year ago, and scanned it for future use. Of course, I had to work some PhotoShop magic on it. Here’s the original-ish image.program cover2

It is from a 1903 anatomy class at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine. If you look, you can see the year, as well as a small skull and crossbones.

The top line on the table is taken from a poem by William Knox: Oh! why should the spirit of mortal be proud? Like a swift-fleeting meteor, a fast-flying cloud, A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave, Man passeth from life to his rest in the grave.

The second line is from Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 1, as Hamlet holds Yorick’s skull: To what base uses may we return, Horatio?

The third line has no attribution, but it is also seen on a 1901 photograph of an anatomy class, remarkably similar to our archival photograph, but with no identifying information.

I got rid of some of the writing so that I could include the event details. I did have to keep the bottom line because it fit so perfectly. I found a great font on DaFont that worked well with the period of the photograph. 4x6 Postcard front

In another iteration, I played with Photoshop and curled the corner, but I thought it was too cheezy. It actually looks better on a white background.postcard invitation curl

For the first image, which I am using on the program, I added a deckle-edge frame and did a drop shadow. I found some fun images from our archives to add to the inside of the program. deformed spine

This lecture ought to be fascinating. I’ve already written about one of the things the speaker will talk about – the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. Click here. Just as a tiny detail, Maryland is one of the only states that doesn’t have county coroners. We just have the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for Maryland, who handles deaths across the state.

May 20, 2016

Black-Eyed Susan Day

The state flower of Maryland is the black-eyed susan, a member of the rudbeckia family.image The bloom along the country roads in the summer, but not until after it’s been hot for a month or so. And it hasn’t. So one of the local grocery stores gets hundreds of yellow daisies and paints the centers brown. image

But it’s also Black-Eyed Susan day today. It’s the race day that all of the locals attend. The race started in 1919 as the preview race for the Preakness weekend. It is now billed as the ladies’ day out, which is a great marketing strategy. image

It’s much more low-key and everyone’s dressed to the hilt. imageimageIt’s sunny today, after weeks and weeks of rain, and rain again Saturday for the Preakness. image

The prediminent colours are black and yellow, reflecting both the flower and the Maryland Flag, which we LOVE here in Maryland. I whipped up some Maryland flag pennants for a Preakness party on Saturday. maryland-flag-pennants

Even though it’s a day for the girls, the gents get in the spirit, too. image

There’s also a fairly revolting cocktail called the Black-Eyed Susan, but the recipe changes about every year, so it’s just something to swig before the race.image I found this quote in the Washington Post today. “The traditional version, printed in the 1985 edition of The Junior League of Baltimore cookbook ‘Hunt to Harbor,’ called for vodka, rum and triple sec, mixed with orange and pineapple juices.” I happened to be one of the testers for this cookbook and can say that this drink wasn’t too ghastly.

I think I am going to have to put this on my calendar for next year.

Thanks to all of my friends from whose FB pages I swiped these images!

May 16, 2016

Cirque Balle

If you remember, a few weeks ago, I showed you the pennants I was making for a party. The event, a spin on Elsie de Wolfe’s Circus Ball, took place over the weekend. Most unfortunately, we had rain for 16 straight days, including a huge storm on Saturday afternoon, so the party had to be moved from the great lawn to the carriage house. cirque balle  (99)

The original plan was to decorate two tables and the tent, and luckily, there was enough room in the carriage house to move several of the 10x20 foot tents inside. My pal, Andrea is super-creative, but as I was in the UK for two weeks, she was in China for two weeks, home a week, then in Europe for two weeks and back a week, much of our planning was done via email and Pinterest. image

Our scheme was to be based on some blue and white china I have, and then add pink as an accent colour. I started making the pennants, all in blue and white fabrics. We got some cheapie hot pink and white striped fabric, tablecloths and napkins. The fabric was to cover the tent poles and give the impression of a striped circus tent. I bought two 100% cotton sheets to use as the overlay on the tables, cut them into 70” squares and sewed gold, and blue and white ribbon on them, and then added tassels to the corners. cirque balle  (97)

We used the same blue and white ribbon to tie in bows around the white folding chairs, and borrowed a console table from Evergreen House to use for some lamps to light the tent and add some major interest. I had gotten the elephant from The Yard Sale last week and knew it would be a perfect addition. cirque balle  (92)

We borrowed some huge blue and white import china containers from our friends at Halcyon House Antiques, and used them for the flowers – various shades of peonies along with some pale blue delphiniums!cirque balle  (72)cirque balle  (68)Andrea found huge tissue paper flowers on Etsy and we placed them around the inside to disguise the mechanics of the tent’s interior. We also hung a few from the peak of the tent, and we criss-crossed the interior with the smaller pennants. cirque balle  (96)

Andrea also made the most amazing animals, using plastic jungle animals we’d found on eBay, spray-painting them gold, glittering them and then adding feathers, flowers, tutus and more! She also made little plinths for them to stand on, just like in a real circus.
cirque balle  (110) cirque balle  (104)

Our adorable 11-year old friend, Aavo, made the most spectacular elephant cookies as a favour for each person at our two tables, imageand we also gave them the fun napkin rings we’d made with more of our gold and glitter animals. cirque balle  (111)It’s all fun and games until someone tries to walk off with the decorations and then argues when you ask them not to!

So, here’s what all of the elements looked like when they were combined! Pennants around the perimeter of the tent, stripes along the tent poles, blue and white, and pink and white stripes on the tables and chair and tons of flowers everywhere. cirque balle  (80)cirque balle  (93)cirque balle  (76)At the end, there were some peonies left, so I took them home and put them in an old silver water pitcher. They were just gorgeous and smelled amazing. cirque balle  (70)

Thanks so much to Andrea for all of her hard work and creativity, and of course, her patience with me. Also thanks to the gentlemen at Halcyon House Antiques for allowing me to come plunder the shop; and to Ibello Upholstery for giving me some amazing fabrics so that I could make a variety of pennants; and to John Rosselli Associates for the stunning blue and white linen fabrics for even more pennants. 

May 12, 2016

#ThisIsBaltimore: Spring Edition

It’s been a really strange spring here in Baltimore: very chilly and very rainy. It’s also been very busy with a lot of projects culminating in a short period of time. Here are some of the images I’ve taken for Instagram over the past six or eight weeks.

Once upon a time, it was sunny. We’re at day 16 of rain, and everyone’s in a foul mood. image

I am still collecting and selling mother-of-pearl silver on my Etsy site. This is a stunning set for 18!image

This is the house where I grew up. I loved that house so much.image

Now that it’s May, I can’t eat oysters anymore, but this was at a party in April.image

Trips to Housewerks always yield great photo opportunities.image

Goose. Gander. Goslings.image

The University of Maryland’s Davidge Hall. The oldest medical school building continually in use, since 1814.image

The palest azaleas in a Wedgwood-style pitcher.image

I love the old books I find in my office’s library.image

That’s all for now!