August 3, 2015

Save the Date

As you might know, I occasionally give lectures and talks, and I’ve just scheduled my next one for October 25th. The talk is called “200 Years of History on Charles Street”. Charles Street is the main street of Baltimore and it divides the city neatly in half. It runs from south of the harbour,monument (38)

all the way up to the beltway encircling the city. monument (54)

As it traverses its nearly 11 mile length, Charles Street changes from row-houses close to the Harbour, to tall office buildings, to elegant townhouses, museums and churches, to more row-houses, to vast estates and then schools and universities. But I am going to concentrate on a few short blocks of the street, beginning at the historic Old St. Paul’s Church and walking to the now-200 year old Washington Monument, from where the above pictures were taken.

These few blocks are filled with some of the most beautiful architecture in Baltimore, as well as a few not-so-nice buildings, but that’s all part of the story of Charles Street. This is one of the treasures along the route taken by a friend who also likes to Look Up!image

If you click on the image below, you will find information on the lecture series, mine along with a lot of others!

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Hope you can come along on my walk through history.

July 31, 2015

20 Questions for Bunny Williams From the WSJ

Did you see the Wall Street Journal’s Off Duty section over the weekend? There was a great “20 Odd Questions” piece with design icon, Bunny Williams. IMG_3977Ever since she arrived on my radar, I have admired her common sense in so many things – her decorating, her outlook on life, and the way she deals with her many rescued dogs.  image

Bunny says that the dog always knows where the coziest place in the house is, and I can certainly agree after Connor took over the most comfortable chair for the past two years. She says that she has faux fur rugs for her dogs, and I know that was always Connor’s favourite place in the winter.

While everyone is mourning the closing of Bunny Williams’ iconic shop in New York, Treillage, she has opened a showroom in the Fine Arts Building in Manhattan to showcase her designs. She joins other design and decorating firms including Bennison and Chelsea Textiles. image

Bunny talks about hating the colours mauve and teal, and acres of dry-wall walls. She likes texture on the walls. Nothing to disagree with there!

As part of the article, there’s also a brief video of Bunny talking about her likes and what interests her. Antique urns are a big thing – in more ways than one! There is nothing better than a chippy old cast iron urn.

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I know that a trip to Bunny Williams Home will definitely be a stop on my next trip to New York! image

To access the article, please click here. I don’t think that it’s behind the pay-wall.

July 27, 2015

Small-timore, Again! This Time With Lots of Pretty Pictures!

As you may know, I’ve been snapping up lots of the gorgeous pearl-handled silverware, which is now on my Etsy shop. It’s really stunning stuff and in the last auction, there were a few lots that I had my eye on. SOLD no 44

But the bidding was fast and furious and I only won some of the lots I bid on. This being Baltimore, I thought that the chances of me knowing who was bidding against me were pretty good. Within a week, I found that it was a friend of a friend! And then it was confirmed I saw this image on her Instagram page!imageAngela Mangione runs House of Presley, a company that rents china, silverware, glassware and other “props” for weddings and parties. We have had a few conversations back and forth, and when she sent me the link to her website, I was enchanted. She’s actually transitioning between websites, so I have linked her Facebook page, which is populated by gorgeous images like the ones below!

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Which is your favourite image? I am hard-pressed to choose the one I like the best! All of the images are from here, so go check out the House of Presley and look at the rest of the images. And tell Angela I sent you over!

All images except the first one, courtesy of the House of Presley!

July 23, 2015

Summer Supper

I bought a plant of “Sweet 100’s” cocktail tomatoes, but in reality, it’s only Sweet 4. That’s all the tomatoes that are on the plant. It’s kind of pitiful. I was planning to make some roasted cocktail tomato jam to have over the winter when I am craving the sunshiny taste of fresh real tomatoes. I guess I will have to take a jaunt to the local Farmers’ Market and pick up some. The recipe I’ve linked is one of the few without a ton of sugar – some have more than three cups! I just want the simplest possible – tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and a bit of sea salt. corn

I picked up some beautiful Maryland corn for supper this evening and it was delicious! I used a little bit of Kerrygold Butter with herbs and garlic, (which I accidentally bought after the dog who’s staying with me ate a half a stick of regular butter and I had to go get more) and a sprinkling of sea salt. It was perfection.

Do you know the easiest way to cook corn? Freakishly simple: Chuck a piece of corn into the microwave. Don’t peel it or shuck it or anything. Set the microwave for four minutes. Pull the corn out. Cut off the bottom about a half inch above where the husks meet the stalk. Squeeze the corn from the silk end and a perfect piece of corn, with NO silk, will pop out. Butter and salt it. Eat and enjoy.

Tell me about your favourite summer supper!

July 21, 2015

Spit & Polish

One of the chores that I have never minded doing is polishing the silver. As a child, we would polish the silver before holiday dinners and my parents’ dinner parties. It was one of those instant gratification chores – you could see your success immediately! Luckily, I still like polishing silver, because I have quite a collection – especially in the pearl-handled flatware – which all needed to be cleaned up before sale.IMG_3576

In the comments section of my last post, someone asked what I used to polish my silverware. After years of using Wright’s Silver Cream, they have gone and changed their name and are now Weiman. Then my life got dramatically easier when I discovered that they make silver wipes. I never though that the pitiful little sponge included in the tub of polish was substantial enough and usually fell apart before I’d finished all the polish.IMG_3575These Weiman Silver Wipes are amazing!  They’re really strong and don’t fall apart, no matter how much I rub and scrub. If I only need to spot polish something, I put the used piece into a baggie and use it the next time.

I thought I’d show you how well they work. Bad me! I hadn’t polished this gorgeous teapot for a while. With all of our humidity recently, it was really beginning to tarnish quickly and I can’t stand that.IMG_3560

After a few swipes with the cloth, it really started cleaning up nicely!IMG_3562

Then I finished polishing the whole thing, including all of the pieces. IMG_3565

This piece is pretty amazing. It’s a teapot on a stand with a spirit burner, which in itself is quite amazing!
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The wick raises and lowers, and when you turn a screw, a little piece comes over and extinguishes the flame. And there are two clips to keep the pot on the stand when you’re transporting it.
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You can see how nicely this polished up, and I only used one of the cloths!IMG_3574

The thing about silver is that the more you use it, the less you have to polish it. And for heaven’s sake, don’t ever consider using one of those dips that claim to remove all of the tarnish instantly. They also remove every single bit of patina on the piece!  This set of Mappin & Webb mother of pearl-handled cutlery took a lot of silver polish and elbow grease to clean. If I’d dipped it, it would look flat and grey. No depth at all.IMG_3512

Do you polish your silver? If so, what do you use or recommend?

July 19, 2015

Sunflowers

I was feeling a little down this weekend, missing Connor a lot, and with the hellishly hot weather, I decided I needed a little cheering up. I was in no mood to trek around the farmers’ market in all the heat, so I took a jaunt to the local Whole Foods. While I don’t usually shop there, I know that I can depend on them for a great selection of flowers at a very reasonable, and sometimes down-right cheap, price.

What better to make me smile than a huge silver pitcher of sunny sunflowers?IMG_3489

Not content with one bunch, I bought four, but at $5.99 for two bunches, it didn’t break the bank and practically fit within my $10/week flower budget.

I started out by chopping a few inches off the bottoms of the sunflowers and then arranging them in my old champagne bucket, but they were too top-heavy. Then I grabbed a great old silver water pitcher that I got at a garage sale a few years ago. 7-7 005[2]

It’s probably 14 inches tall and has an enamel lining. It’s so detailed and when I was polishing it, I realized that it’s really a rather nice piece… And I am pretty sure that I paid a pittance for it! It’s hard to see, but the spout has what looks like a little bear on one side, IMG_3514

and a bird and dog on the other.IMG_3522

The rest of the spout is beautifully detailed, as well with what looks like a big scallop shell.

The handle and the lid are perfectly aligned, and the place on the lid where it rests on the handle has a disc to prevent it from denting.IMG_3518

I love sunflowers and tried to grow them this year, but the yard guy accidentally mowed them down!IMG_3526IMG_3530

What kind of flower cheers you up?

July 14, 2015

Well Done, JHUAPL!

Are you as excited as I have been about the New Horizons’ voyage to Pluto and beyond? I have been gripped by the whole thing and have been watching and waiting for each new update.image

It boggles one’s mind that this little space explorer, the size of a grand piano, has been travelling for more than nine years, over three billion miles and is still whirling through space. It’s also amazing to know that none of us alive now will ever see this thing happen again. There is no planet that we’ve not seen up close. The little New Horizons has zoomed by them and taken pictures.

To make things clearer (ha), this was the best picture we had of Pluto in May on the left and this is today, on the right. The “heart” that you see is about 1,000 miles across and sits just above Pluto’s equator.image

It is hard to fathom that it takes 4.5 hours for the data from New Horizons to travel the 3+ billion miles… it’s going at the speed of light.

Of course, there’s another reason I am so interested in this mission – the leader of it is the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, part of the massive Johns Hopkins educational and medical system, located right here in Baltimore. Actually, the APL is about 20 miles down the road, but everything else is here in Baltimore.

One really  lovely story associated with New Horizons is that in this tiny little space capsule were some of the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh, who is credited with “discovering” Pluto in February of 1930. Some of Tombaugh’s children were at the APL today when New Horizons passed by Pluto. Such a fitting tribute that his ashes are now truly among the stars.image

Are you as interested in this whole thing as I have been? Do tell!

July 12, 2015

The UK’s 100 Leading Designers

House & Garden (UK) has just announced their list of the UK’s top 100 designers and looking through the list, there are names that would be familiar to anyone who follows the industry as well as an excellent crop of newcomers to the list. image

The list is alphabetical by first name, which was an interesting way to list them. Each entry has an image of the designer’s work, a brief review, a bit of background and then a quiz question.

Here are a few that caught my eye.

Alidad says he designs rooms to last for 20 years. His work features multilayered, super-expensive materials and object.image

Ben Pentreath, whom I was lucky enough to meet last fall. I adore everything he does.image

Edward Bulmer, who has my dream job – reorganizing and redecorating historic houses. image

Nicky Haslam, naturally. I just read one of his books. He’s hilarious and has quite a history.image

Retrouvius are known for using architectural salvage in their project. I love that!image

Rita Konig of whom I have been a fan for year. She’s funny and bright and is back in England after being in the States for a spell.image

Robert Kime – amazing interiors and even more gorgeous fabrics. image

Woody Clark works on historic houses and insists on using local talent! Good for him. image

The entire list is here. Let me know who your standouts are!