Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Just stopping in quickly to wish you all a HAPPY (and safe) HALLOWEEN!

Photograph of shadows on a tombstone in Old Westminster Graveyard in Baltimore, the site of Edgar Allan Poe's grave. By the way, our little historic house group did venture up to pay our respects several weeks ago. After exploring the graveyard, we headed to the Poe House at 203 Amity Street, only to find its door locked tight, no caretaker in sight. Apparently, to quote Poe, "there are some secrets that do not permit themselves to be revealed."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

at kentuck knob

Early Saturday morning we made our way to Kentuck Knob ~ a late Usonian house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for I.N. and Bernardine Hagan in the 1950s, and now owned by Lord Peter Palumbo. The house and its collections of art and furniture really blew me away. The grounds too are amazing and dotted with outdoor sculptures. My favorites include two pieces by Andy Goldsworthy (see Floodstones Cairn, 1993, below) and several tonal sculptures by Harry Bertoia (see bottom image).

Monday, October 29, 2007

at fallingwater

Just home from the most wonderful, refreshing trip to Western Pennsylvania! The mountain air was cool and crisp, and the foliage a cacophony of bright red, yellow and green leaves. The highlight of the trip (hands down!) was drinking wine on the terrace at Fallingwater at sunset (a truly surreal moment for me ~ true bliss). Afterwards we scrambled around on the rocks below the house and reveled in the autumnal evening. There is much more to say, but no time to say it, so more tomorrow...

Friday, October 26, 2007

trouvée: the umbrella

I thought this photograph was perfect for such a rainy day. Alas, no inscription, no date, and its origin is a mystery. She makes me think of Christopher Robin though!

Well, I have my boots and umbrella packed and am off to Western Pennsylvania for a weekend at Fallingwater. Cheers to all!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

a little more red

Bright red berries for a grey, rainy day! I am not complaining though, as we so desperately need the rain.

The other day I mentioned Teaism's salty oat cookies. Well, I remembered that The Washington Post printed the recipe several months ago, and after a little digging, I found it! For those of you who can't make it to DC, here it is:

Salty Oat Cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 cups rolled organic oats
1/2 cup raisins (or dried cranberries)
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375º.

1) Set the raisins in a bowl with just enough boiling water (or hot port, even) to cover and leave them to plump up while you put together the dough. 2) In a stand mixer, whip the butter out of shape. Add the sugars, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon, and beat together until the mixture is fairly homogenous. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour with the mixer at low speed and, scraping down the sides as necessary, mix just until it is fully incorporated. 3) Drain the raisins, then add them to the dough along with the oats and mix until combined. 4) Chill the dough for at least an hour before baking (the longer you chill the dough, the thicker and chewier these cookies end up). 5) Set up a few baking sheets and line them with parchment paper. Place heaping tablespoons of dough on the sheets, about 2" apart. 6) Sprinkle kosher salt on top of the cookies. Don't be stingy - you want them to actually taste of salt, as an active presence rather than just a flavor enhancer. 7) Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and done.

simple shapes

Another wonderful piece of inspiration from the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. I love how Art Nouveau jewelry so beautifully incorporates the organic shapes of even the simplest forms. This piece feels particularly autumnal to me.

(image: Paul and Henri Vever, Hair Comb, tortoise shell, pearls, and enamel, 1900, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

red leaves

I miss red leaves! Everything around here is brown and yellow, so I am craving red! I took this photograph in Germany in September, where it was crisp and cool. I love hearing all of your Fall favorites, so please keep them coming...

Also, for those you art lovers ~ I received an announcement from the British Museum of their new online database (launched last Thursday). It includes records for almost 1.7 million (yes, million!) objects, with images for almost half! More added every day. Make yourself a cup of tea, and take a tour.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

little bits of fall

It has been such a strange Fall. Far too warm, far too dry. I am all for an Indian Summer, but really...this is too much! Fall is my favorite season and I feel like Summer is cheating me out of truly enjoying the things I love the most about it ~ cozy cashmere sweaters and scarves from here (looooove the Scottish portfolio!), hot cups of chai and salty oat cookies from here, and long walks in a cool, crisp breeze (followed by comforting glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon). Has it been strange for you too?

Anyway, I realized that I have been collecting little bits of Fall on my camera. So I thought I would share some of those things with you this week ~ in lieu of the actual season. I would love to know some of your favorite Fall things ~ please share!

historic house tour: barboursville

There is nothing better than a picnic under the trees on a warm October day. Fresh bread, rosemary-crusted ham and prosciutto, gourmet cheese, and a couple glasses of wine ~ and a little snooze on a blanket. This past weekend, our little historic house group ventured out to Barboursville Winery, where one can not only sample a selection of red and white wines, but tour the ruins of an old Palladian mansion. The mansion was designed by Thomas Jefferson for his friend James Barbour ~ one of only three residences (other than Monticello) designed by the former president. Jefferson's classic Palladian plan included three stories, built around an octagonal center hall. Construction was begun in 1814 and took eight years to complete. Unfortunately, however, the house was destroyed by fire on Christmas day 1884. The current winery was founded in 1976 and produces a selection of almost 20 wines! Our favorites included the Viognier, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Franc. Cheers!

Friday, October 19, 2007

art of the snapshot

Ohhhhh, way too tired today to get a found photo scanned and posted. Sorry! Instead, go revel in all of the fabulousness of The Art of the American Snapshot, 1888-1978: From the Collection of Robert E. Jackson, at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, through December 31st. And for those of you snapshot fans, the catalogue is fantastic!

Have a wonderful weekend!

(image: "A.T.M. 1963," 1963, gelatin silver print, Collection of Robert E. Jackson)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

...and a desk

A little diversion from books ~ something for my home office, perhaps? An 18th-century blue lacquer secretary from the Musée des arts décoratifs, Paris.

(Image: Sécretaire en pente, 1749-1750, Musée des arts décoratifs, Paris, inv. 32636, photograph by Laurent Sully Jaulmes)


Book week continues with two fabulous solutions to my PILES of books ~ from Domino (top: May 2006, and bottom: June 2006). Currently my books are stacked up like mini skyscrapers.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

end papers

My friend KDM sent me a marvelous link several days ago to a database of marbled and paste papers at the University of Washington Libraries. I flipped out when I saw it! Such a fabulous resource ~ full of great information and really clear images. What is better than opening an old, time-worn book and finding outrageous marbled endpapers? Well, here you can feast your eyes to your heart's content.

(images courtesy of the University of Washington Libraries, top to bottom: 19th century, gold vein over Turkish antique pattern; 19th century, gold vein over Turkish pattern; 18th century, Turkish double marble pattern; 19th century, gold vein over Turkish pattern; and 19th century, gold vein printed over Spanish moiré on Turkish pattern)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

inspiration: ex libris

As the weather gets cooler (okay, just a little), and the leaves start to turn fabulous colors (okay, brown), I love nothing more that to curl up with a good book and a glass of wine. And, I have noticed that my "inspiration" folder for this week is full of all sorts of book-related goodies. I received the announcement for an exhibition at the University Gallery of the University of Massachusetts Amherst ~ Ex Libris, which runs through December 9, and is part of a program called Bookmarks: A Celebration of the Art of the Book. It features works by Matthew Higgs and Peter Wüthrich, including this installation of book covers by Wüthrich, On the Art of Making Bouquets, 2005.

Monday, October 15, 2007

new orleans favorites

What would a trip be without a list of loves? So, here are mine from New Orleans ~ there are so many!

* For a wonderful, wonderful meal try Bayona, 430 Rue Dauphine (K ~ just how fabulous was that Cabernet Sauvignon!?!)

* Need a little pick me up? Go to Brocato, 214 North Carrollton Avenue, for tiramisu ice cream and an almond macaroon. A local favorite, the business was completely flooded during the hurricane, but thanks to a lot of hard work, they are back and better than ever. The sign? The original was destroyed in the storm, but the new one is a fantastic replica!

* Light and airy, and full of delicate treasures, Pied Nu, 5521 Magazine Street, will not fail to delight (even if you can only browse).

* What to do when a torrential downpour interrupts your walk in the Garden District? Duck into The Rink, 2727 Prytania Street, and lose yourself in the stacks at the Garden District Book Shop. Independently owned, and stuffed full of everything you have been wanting to read (and even more you didn't know about). They also have a special section of just New Orleans-related books.

* And for those you knitters and needlepointers out there ~ you would love The Quarter Stitch, 630 Chartres Street (in the French Quarter). Luscious baskets full of knitting yarn, walls and walls of needlepoint canvases, and a candy-like bins of wool threads. My next project? A fleur-de-lis Christmas ornament.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

a walk in the garden district

I spent my last morning in New Orleans walking through the Garden District ~ filled with gorgeous old homes and lush green gardens. The previous day, I had driven around the Lakeview district and Old Metairie, two particularly hard-hit areas. The contrast was amazing, and I am so glad I was able to see both. During our drive through Lakeview, my friend K had talked to me about how frustrated she was with the media coverage of the hurricane. One talking head after another had asked if New Orleans should be saved. Given the enormity of the task ahead, I suppose it is not hard to see why they ask.
However, as I walked through the quiet tree-lined streets of the Garden District I thought: Yes, YES! We should save this city ~ not only because it is a unique part of our cultural heritage, but because there are people who care passionately about their city and are working hard to make it right, make it better. Each street number represents a house, a home, a family ~ and it is easy to forget that if you only look at the big picture.

Friday, October 12, 2007

green gardens

Before I left to go down to New Orleans, people said to me, "Wow, that's going to be hard" or "Too bad I never got down there before the hurricane." Yes, in some ways it was hard ~ however, one needs to go there to truly understand the impact of that event. And having been there both before and after the hurricane, I can honestly say that the essence of New Orleans is very much alive. So no, it's not too bad if you never got there before Katrina.

People have worked hard, very hard, and they still have a long road ahead of them. But there are already so many signs of life and rebirth. Driving around with my friend K, looking at some of the most devastated areas, she kept remarking on the trees ~ the oak trees. Entire houses were gone, but those old oaks were standing proud. Green and thriving. And that is how it is in New Orleans. It is a city whose precarious relationship with nature is extraordinary.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

more to come...

Home from a wonderful trip to New Orleans ~ with lots to share. As usual, I am completely swamped (okay, bad joke), but promise to get some more photographs up tomorrow.

P.S. These gorgeous ironwork doors are from the Gallier House (now a historic house museum) on Royal Street. Although I didn't get to tour it this trip, I have been in the past and loved it!

Friday, October 5, 2007

summer fades into fall

Even though it is 80 degrees in Washington, one certainly can feel summer slipping into fall. The days are getting shorter, the sunsets are deeper and redder. The sun is lower, and the shadows are longer. The leaves are looking brown and are beginning to drift down and pile up along the edges of the sidewalk. The roses are heavy and full ~ looking a little bit like a crumpled ball gown the day after a party. And I am beginning to long for cozy cashmere sweaters...for fall is my favorite season.

I am afraid I have no found photograph for today ~ this week has just been a little too hectic! And, believe it or not, just as I have finished unpacking my bags, I find myself packing them again. This time for a wee vacation ~ a long-planned trip to see a dear old friend in New Orleans. This will be my first trip since the hurricane, so I am anxious to see how things are. I will report back on Tuesday. For those of you who have Monday off, enjoy it...

Cheers to all!

Thursday, October 4, 2007 favorites

Have you all had enough of Paris? Well, alas, all good things must come to an end. I'll leave you with a few of my favorites from the City of Lights:

* Mariage Frères ~ no place better! Have afternoon tea and choose from one of the hundreds of flavors and blends (30, rue du Bourg-Tibourg). What I brought home ~ Marco Polo, Boléro, and Mango.

* Musée des arts décoratifs ~ recently renovated and jam-packed full of the most fabulous goodies (porcelain, furniture, costumes, books, jewelry). I had heard rave reviews of the installation of Jeanne Lanvin's private boudoir, and it did not disappoint! (The above photo is a detail from a 19th-century painted room panel ~ photos allowed).

* Ladurée ~ the patisserie whose macarons inspired Sophia Coppola. My favorite flavor? Carmel and sea salt.

* Les Bonnes Soeurs ~ a petit bistro in the heart of Le Marais, just off the Place des Vosges (8, rue du pas de la mule). Order a glass of wine and one of the daily specials (their menu changes every day, so everything is wonderfully fresh).

promenade dans les Tuileries

A walk in the Jardins des Tuileries. Such an incredibly formal landscape ~ and yet the flowers look so wild, like something from an impressionist painting.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

jardins secrets

One of my favorite discoveries of the trip was Musée Carnavalet ~ the museum of the history of the city of Paris. Housed in two adjoining Parisian mansions, this little gem is full of the most fascinating things ~ entire furnished rooms from the middle ages through to the mid-20th century, paintings, street signs, relics of la revolution, and a series of delightful courtyard gardens. Why had I never been before?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

fantaisies de paris

In Paris...there is something for everyone! I particularly loved the sign on this lingerie shop on rue Saint-Honoré. And the ferris wheel in the Jardins des Tuileries.

les petites choses

It is so fun to come home from a trip and look through one's photographs and see the little things that catch the eye ~ those lovely details from a walk around Le Marais. Things you might otherwise forget ~ gorgeous late summer roses, little window boxes full of white flowers, and a smattering of red leaves on the pavement. My souvenirs from Paris...

Monday, October 1, 2007

c'est manifique!

Even in the rain, Paris is magnificent! I have been swamped today, but promise to get more photos up over the course of the week ~ both from Paris and from Bielefeld, Germany! A demain...!