February 23, 2018

Going to Pittsburgh

I am giving a small talk in Pittsburgh in May, and will be spending a couple of days in the city. I have never been there before, but luckily, I have a tour guide coming along with me – my bestie who grew up there. However, she hasn’t lived there for a while now, and I am looking for some new and fun things to do, and places to visit. We are really only there for about 48 hours, and I have to be at the conference for some of that time, so I want to make the most of the trip.image

The conference where I am speaking is being held at the University of Pittsburgh, aka Pitt, which is an urban campus with some really gorgeous buildings, including the Heinz Memorial Chapel. image

What I’d really love to know about it some fun design/home stores, any architectural salvage places, a great restaurant for late afternoon drinks, places I shouldn’t miss, and anything else you think I’d like.image Yes, I know I could Google all of this, but if you’ve been reading Pigtown*Design for any length of time, you know better than the Google what interests me! Thanks, in advance, for your help!

February 14, 2018

Year of the Dog

Because Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar, it isn’t a fixed date. This year’s Chinese New Year begins on Friday, February 16th and lasts for about two weeks. Most cities have some sort of Chinese New Year celebration and it’s a lot of fun to participate. There are twelve zodiac cycles, each represented by an animal, and this year’s is the dog. There are also five element cycles and this year’s is Earth. The Earth Dog is persistent, meticulously attentive, with good fortune in wealth.

Since it’s the Year of the Dog, I thought I’d entertain you with some recent pictures of my sweet little Figue, who continues to delight and entertain me! She has her own Instagram account, where you can follow along with her cuteness.

It is only recently that Figue has decided she loves being under the covers. image

She usually goes in head-first and then I re-arrange her.image

Figue and her Christmas hedgehog.image

My wonderful faux fur blanket from Halcyon House was not chosen to match the dog.image

Honestly, I can’t tell you how much she loves her little critters from ZippyPaws. She has hedgehogs, cardinals, bunnies, squirrels and these pigs.image

Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin)

Gong Hey Fat Choy (Cantonese)

Congratulations & Prosperity (English)

February 2, 2018

Antiques: The Ultimate in Recycling

I am working on an article about antiques, so I have had to really think about the role they play in our world and in my life. When I moved back to the States, I thought I would only be here for a year or so, but twelve years later, clearly that didn’t happen. I needed to furnish a house from scratch, as I couldn’t imaging living in an empty house. I started haunting antique shops, junk shops, yard sales, auctions and thrift shops in the hope that I could cobble together a decent living situation. image

What I didn’t want to do is go to Ikea, Pottery Barn or somewhere similar and buy a house’s worth of furniture. I knew it would not be the best use of resources in any sense of the word. If I did move within a year, I’d have things that I could sell at a reasonable percentage of what I paid for them, and if I stayed, I’d have pretty decent things that I hadn’t paid an arm and a leg for.

Slowly, over the course of a year, I found pieces I liked, starting with an almost brand new Ethan Allan sofa that someone who lived in a smaller row-house than mine, couldn’t fit through their front door. imageThis is the sofa that I ended up making a slip-cover for… a year after I learned how to sew! That’s Connor in front.image

Then I found an old steel barrister’s book case, and decided it was the perfect place to put my sweaters. image

An old dresser from my mother’s house, and an inexpensive mirror from a yard sale were what I needed to fill a corner.image

When I think about the things in my house now, very few of the furnishings are brand new. image

I like being surrounded by the stories of the items that I collect – after all, you’re really not going to have a story to tell about going to CB2… I can’t imagine living in a brand new house, surrounded by all new furniture. Or even having a new dog! But that’s probably because of the way I was brought up, and that’s my sensibility. What’s yours?