July 27, 2016

Mapping it Out

Anyone who knows me knows that I L.O.V.E. maps! I think this comes from playing with the globe in my father’s study as a child. I’d spin it around and stick my finger on some foreign land and then try to learn about it. image

Later, I learned to read nautical charts, and even had an office papered with the charts of the Chesapeake Bay. And of course, there’s the famous Turgot Plan de Paris, which I adhered to my dining room wall at my old house.

I love looking at old maps of Baltimore, and had a chance to carefully study the Warner & Hanna 1804 map of Baltimore, with one of my ancestors’ houses on it. image

I recently came across a historic map of Baltimore that I’d never seen before, and neither had some of my more scholarly Baltimore historian friends. I was looking for a map on which I could find a street which no longer exists, so did a search for vintage Baltimore maps. 1912 capture

This is not technically a map, more of a bird’s eye drawing of the downtown, which, seven scant years before, been totally gutted by a fire.  The downtown buildings, and significant landmarks further from the Inner Harbour are incrediblly clear and detailed. So, as this gets farther away from the “burnt district”, things get a lot sketchier.

You can easily see the Washington Monument, image

the Johns Hopkins medical campus, imagethe Camden Yards warehouses, image

Davidge Hall and the Bromo Tower, image

and so much more.

Of course, I can’t leave well enough alone, so I applied my mad Photoshop skills to it while listening to the convention speeches, and colourized the map, mostly with brick red, copper and forest green and some pale blue, although we all know perfectly well that the Harbour and the Jones Falls never looked like that. I think that the colour gives the piece a lot of depth. 1912 capture colour

Although it’s not quite to scale, it’s a pretty amazing piece of work, originally done in pencil by Mr. Edward Spofford in the fall of 1911. There’s not a lot of information about this piece, like who comissioned it, and how it was sketched.

You can download a huge file of the map from the Library of Congress, here. I think I am going to have it printed out on fabric and make some pillow covers.cushion-baltimore I am also going to print it out on a dozen or so 11x17 pieces of paper and stick in on a wall somewhere.

July 20, 2016


When I bought my house five years ago, I was thrilled to see that it had two T-bars to hold a clothesline. The bars are iron and there is one by the house and one at the end of the yard. When I lived in the UK, we didn’t have a clothes drier and because it was so cold and damp, I never felt like my things were completely dry.image

But here in Maryland, where it can get quite humid, we also have lots of sun. So I take advantage of this by drying as many things on the clothesline as I can. Even on a humid day, if there’s a little breeze and some sun, things dry pretty quickly – even bath towels! Of course, there are some items that don’t go on the line – mostly my unmentionables, and knits which need the heat and agitation to pull the knit back into shape.IMG_1912

As I have said before, I barely use paper towels. Instead, I take advantage of my large collection of linen or cotton tea towels. I use them a couple of times, depending on whether I am cleaning up spills, wiping my hands or drying a pot, and then I put them in the bin for washing.I frequently find brand-new linen tea towels at yard sales and thrift shops. They need to be washed several times (just throw them in with your regular laundry) so that the sizing that makes them stiff can wash out.

Recently, friends brought me back the most fun tea towels from Portobello Road in London to add to my collection.image

After some trial and error, I began using plastic clothes pins from Muji, the amazing Japanese store. I found that if I didn’t take the wooden ones in after I used them, they became stained, which in turn, stained my clothes. Ugh. Although this one looks a little grubby, there’s an incredible little Potter Wasp’s nest that I found built into the end of a pin. image

A friend recently told me that when we were kids, living just a few blocks from each other, both of our mothers hung clothes on the line. His mother got anonymouse notes from the neighbours telling her that it was trashy to hang laundry outside. Apparently, this is still the case in some suburban subdivisions. Really? It’s not trashy, it’s smart.


But when you think about the time and energy it takes to run a clothes drier, and how effortless it is to let the wind and sun do all of the work, why not hang your things on a line? And as an added benefit, they smell great!

July 12, 2016

Portobello: A Pigtown Pop-Up

One of my favourite things to do in the UK is to poke around small antique sales, places like Portobello Road and Spitalfields Market, and of course, car-boot sales. In the spirit of Portobello Road, I am having a pop-up sale in September, hosted by my great friends at Halcyon House Antiques.Portobello Logo

As you know if you’ve been reading Pigtown*Design for any length of time, I have a broad love for English antiques. My Etsy shop always features beautiful English silver, incuding teapots, pitchers, serving pieces,image and of course, mother-of-pearl handled silverware. imageIn addition, I’ve assembled a great collection of individual English transfer-ware both in blue and white and polychrome, perfect for expanding your collectionsimage

Everything in this sale is something that I’ve found in my travels, and have personally selected as something I’d like to have in my own house (and in many cases, I do have duplicates).

One of the things I like to do is use pieces in ways other than their original intention. For example, this salt shaker is now a wee bud vase, image

and this egg cup is now holding some fragrant honeysuckle blossoms. image

Please stay tuned for more details as we move closer to the date. And if there’s anything in particular that you’re looking for, do let me know.

July 5, 2016

Instagram: Early Summer Edition

After a very cool June, July and the summer heat have arrived with a vengeance: temperatures in the 90’s and more than 1.5 inches of rain over the past 24 hours. Here’s my past month or so in Instagram images.

I can’t tell you how much I adore this little gal! Figue has so much personality and she’s quite funny. I loved Connor and my other Lab, but Figue is totally different. Here she is in front of my small fig plant.image

Get this book! A combination of great recipes and funny stories, with great images.image

I was taking a different route someplace and spotted this on a building. It’s on a long-closed printing plant. image

I attended a party at Ladew Gardens on a perfect June afternoon. The roses were just finishing up, but still beautiful.image

Hydrangeas. Always a favourite.image

Summer supper at a friend’s farm. image

I’ve been admiring the broken pediment on this house for a while now. Finally remembered to take a picture.image

Potter wasps’ nest on my clothes pin. The nests are less than an inch long. Nature is an amazing thing.image

I saw this little guy taking a walk the other day. I stopped to take a picture and he turned in a circle for me, so I could see his rig!image

Figue has clearly made herself at home. She loves lying on the sofa surrounded by pillows…image

and sitting on her ottoman looking out the window, watching the world go by!image

Thanks for taking the time to read Pigtown*Design! Be sure to follow me on my Instagram account!