December 18, 2014

The Christmas House: 2014 Edition

My dear friend Andrea, who owns Bosom Buddy Bags, is one of the most creative people that I know. Anything that she turns her hand to is creative, beautiful and elegant. She’s also an animal lover and has adopted several cats and dogs over the years, including this sweet boy.IMG_7685

Each year, during the festive season, she hosts an open house to benefit the Maryland SPCA, where she got her dogs. This year’s house was the most beautiful that I’ve seen so far. IMG_7608

Andrea set out the most sumptuous buffet, complete with a huge candy-bar for the children (and adults). IMG_7620

She had the cutest cupcakes I’ve ever seen – it was hard to eat them because they were so adorable! The children were just enchanted with these guys!
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The flowers were just stunning, as they always are. Andrea was a floral designer for many years and her arrangements are always works of art!IMG_7606IMG_7638IMG_7645

And then there were the trees! IMG_7642More than 260 of them! Tiny, small, medium, huge! All sorts of shapes and sizes. And dozens and dozens of bottle brush trees all over the house. IMG_7691IMG_7697IMG_7653IMG_7655IMG_7671IMG_7612

And the small details made all of the difference. IMG_7634IMG_7669IMG_7695

All in all, a wonderful evening, hosted by a fun couple, IMG_7660to benefit a great organization – the Maryland SPCA!

December 16, 2014

Smells Like Christmas!

There are certain scents that I associate with Christmas which evoke strong memories when I smell them. I am sure that many of us have similar scent memories, but here are mine.

Pomander balls made out of oranges and cloves and dusted with a little cinnamon. image

Years ago, I realized that the secret to making these is using a Citrus Stripper/Zester to carve decorative channels in the orange peel, like the image above. You can be very creative with the stripper and it won’t kill your fingers to push all of those spiky cloves into the tough peel. You’ll thank me.

Another scent I adore is the piney smell of Thymes Frasier Fir Candle which smells like an actual tree and not a bunch of chemicals. imageI buy one or two of these candles every year and keep them lighted in the evenings. Since I usually don’t get a Christmas tree, these work perfectly!

When we were children, my father made traditional English Christmas cake, using a recipe that he’d gotten from his father. The smell of all of the dried fruits, nuts, spices and booze takes me back to watching him make the cake in a huge yellow-ware bowl, listening to the Texaco Presentation of the Metropolitan Opera. The cake was made about four weeks before Christmas and doused with booze during the intervening weeks.image

On Christmas Eve Eve, he’d cover the top of the cake with a smooth layer of marzipan and let it cure overnight. On Christmas Eve, he’d make a Royal Icing and decorate the cake, sprinkling Silver Dragees across the top.image

At our Annual Christmas Night Party, we always had a roaring fire in both the living room

10410and library fireplaces.

1049At the end of the party, when the fires were burning down, and just a few old good friends were left, we’d sit in the quite rooms, chatting and reflecting on our luck over the past year.

1044I think that this was the year that it was warm over Christmas, and all of the fruit rotted and then dripped!

What are the scents that evoke the festive season for you?

December 14, 2014

Shameless Self Promotion

As you may know, I attended an auction when I was in Wales, with my pal, Yonks! I swear, I didn’t at all intend to buy anything, but the items on offer were irresistible! And now I am putting them on my Etsy shop for your consideration.

Here’s some of what is on offer, although not all of it is on the shop yet.

Set of five art deco forks

Serrated and Plain Decorated Knife with French Ivory HandleArt Deo Knife with French Ivory Handle

Large fish knife and fork

Set of 8 knives and forks with carved French Ivory Handles

Art Nouveau Knife with decorated blade and collar, French Ivory handle

Adams “Cries of London” Plate

I realized a long time ago that I am a hunter more than a collector. So while I love hunting for pieces, once I’ve found them, I don’t mind “de-accessioning” them!

December 12, 2014

Getting Ready for The Festive Season

When I was in London, the train stations all had signs informing people that there would be work on the rails during “the festive season” which I thought was a great way to talk about the upcoming holidays without offending anyone, or singling out a specific holiday. Because it’s just me at home, and Connor, too, I usually don’t decorate too much, other than a wreath on the door and some vintage Christmas tree balls in a silver bowl, and of course, a string of lights on Connor! I worry that if I put a tree up, Connor will think that he’s suddenly gotten indoor plumbing!

I’ve just added a new board to my Pinterest page and thought I’d share some of the images I’ve collected with you. Click on the image to go to the Pinterest image. You will find that my style tends toward the classic and the shiny.

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Which do you like best? If you’d like to add a link to a favourite holiday look, please share it in your comment!

December 9, 2014

Best Shot!

I took more than 800 pictures while I was in the UK, and, in a complete departure from days past, I only used my iPhone 5 to take them. While I took a digital camera along with me, I found that I never wanted or needed to use it. When I use my phone’s camera, I use the HDR setting. If you don’t know what that is, basically read this post I did about it. The setting I use saves both the original and HDR image, so I can pick and choose which is better, as the differences can be over-dramatic.
IMG_6434Original IMG_6435HDR Image

I went through my images and picked out the ones which I thought were the best. I hope you enjoy them!

St. Pancras Station, which has just been renovated.IMG_6352

Courtyard at Magdalen College in Oxford.IMG_6504

Oriel College at Oxford.IMG_6437

The canal boat that was home for five days.IMG_6604

Looking the other way from the boat.IMG_6600

Early morning drive-by of the London Eye.IMG_6689

Hay Castle, Hay-on-Wye, WalesIMG_6780

Andy walking by the shorelineIMG_6859

Barry Island, WalesIMG_6851

Castel Coch, late afternoon, racing to make it before sundown.IMG_6900

My guysIMG_6922x

Still can’t quite figure out why I didn’t buy this wallpaper.IMG_6929

St. Paul’s Cathedral. IMG_6948

Don’t see many of these call boxes anymore.IMG_6955

My favourite breakfast and my new hat.IMG_6959

Bonanza of knives!IMG_7006

The model-maker and his model at the V&A.IMG_7087

At Pentreath & Hall for their Christmas Evening. Finally got to meet Ben and Bridie!IMG_7207

No idea what this means, but it made me laugh!IMG_7250

Heading homeIMG_7277

If you can stand a little more, I put together a little video of my trip.

Thanks for coming along on my travels with me!