Thursday, May 31, 2007


I have been craving grits ever since having G's yummy cheese grits casserole this past weekend. Well, knowing how much cheese and butter goes into that particular delicacy, I decided to look for something a little (emphasis on the little) less sinful and found this recipe on epicurious:

Grits with Goat Cheese and Chives

3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 cup quick-cooking grits
1/3 cup sliced fresh chives (or green onions)
4 ounces soft fresh goat cheese
fresh chives, cut into 2-inch pieces

Bring broth and water to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually stir in grits. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook 4 minutes. When thickened to consistency of thin mashed potatoes, add sliced chives and cheese. Stir until cheese melts. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with chive pieces.

(recipe from Bon Appétit, November 1992)

I love grits, I love goat cheese, and I love chives ~ what could be better? P.S. The photo is of a glorious patch of chives in the Paca House garden in Annapolis.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

finishing projects

I have a terrible habit of starting projects that tend to languish in a state of incompletion. This weekend however, I finished redoing my new stool. I put on the last coat of paint and picked up the cushion (recovered in a lovely white French stripe) and ~ voila! Now if I can just get to that basket of knitting...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

summer begins

I hope you all had a lovely holiday weekend. For me, the unofficial beginning of summer was ushered in with a glorious series of fêtes from Richmond to Alexandria, including my dear friend G's fabulous garden party celebrating the best of Virginia produce and cuisine. We were treated to a bountiful feast ~ cheese grits casserole with home-grown grits from Stratford Hall, traditional pulled pork b-b-q, dishes chock full of local organic veggies, strawberry shortcake, a selection of Northern Neck wines, and iced sun tea with mint. All presented with Miss G's casually elegant style and flair (Martha has nothing on her!).

Here was my contribution to the feast (several people asked for the recipe, so I thought I would share it with you all):

Pasta Salad with Vegetables and Lemon

1 cup shelled frozen edamame
10 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 pound pasta (I use a bag of bow-tie pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/3 cup dry white wine
zest of 1 lemon plus 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 cups baby arugula
6 ounces yellow grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons grated ricotta salata or pecorino romano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
freshly ground pepper

1) cook edamame and asparagus in boiling water until just tender, 3-4 minutes. Drain and set aside. 2) Bring large pot of water to boil, add pasta, cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid, set aside. 3) Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in pasta pot over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring occasionally until translucent. Add wine, bring mixture to a boil. Cook until liquid is reduced by half. Remove from heat and add lemon juice, lemon zest, edamame, asparagus, pasta and 1 cup reserved liquid; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Toss well. 4) When ready to serve, add arugula and tomatoes, cheese, and chives, and toss with remaining salt and pepper (and a little olive oil as necessary).

(adapted from a recipe in Martha Stewart Living, June 2005)

Friday, May 25, 2007

trouvée: mr & mrs

This little gem is one of my snapshot finds from Annapolis last weekend. It is printed on postal card, and was probably taken circa 1900. I love the way the photograph is printed slightly off center ~ I have seen this before on postal cards and I finally realized that it was most likely done to allow the sender room for a message. I wonder what they would have written on this one?!

Am lusting after this book ~ Photobooth. Why are these anonymous, everyday photographs so intriguing?

Will try to get a post or two up over the long weekend. But if not ~ you'll know I am eating too much b-b-q and potato salad! Enjoy yours...!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

rings of saturn

I recently came across a story about NASA's Cassini spacecraft ~ the agency's fourth mission to explore Saturn, but the first to really examine the planet's rings and moons. The Cassini website is incredibly addictive and completely fascinating ~ click through the hundreds of photographs and read about the mission. The photographs are so clear and real ~ and at the same time so beautifully abstract.

(images: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

from annapolis with love

Some favorites from Annapolis:

* Mansard roofs and secret gardens.
* Sipping tea at historic Reynolds Tavern (7 Church Circle).
* Sitting Pretty (35 Maryland Avenue).
* Finding a cache of vintage snapshots at Scarlet Letter Antiques (62 Maryland Avenue).
* Watching midshipmen walk by in their pristine white uniforms (everywhere).

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

pattern and light

Just got a card in the mail about these works by Olga Antonova at Beth Urdang Gallery in Boston ~ recent paintings on view 17 May - 23 June 2007. I love the play of light and pattern.

(images: Reflective Ball on Checkered Cloth, 2006; and Silver and Glass Objects on Patterned Cloth, 2006)

coffee, anyone?

I was thrilled to finally receive a piece of mail with the new coffeepot stamp featuring a rendering of a silver coffeepot, circa 1786, belonging to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (see below). The coffeepot was made by prominent Philadelphia silversmiths Joseph Richardson, Jr. (1752-1831) and Nathaniel Richardson (1754-1827). The coffeepot is the sixth stamp in the USPS American Design series ~ which also features the 1-cent Tiffany lamp, the 4-cent Chippendale chair, the 5-cent American toleware, and the 10-cent American clock. What's so special about the coffeepot? It was illustrated by a friend!
(bottom image: Philadelphi Museum of Art, 1986-105-1,
Gift of Louise Hoffman, 1986)

Monday, May 21, 2007

historic house tour: hammond-harwood house

The Hammond-Harwood House ~ which boasts “the prettiest door in America” ~ was designed for Matthias Hammond by William Buckland (who also worked on Gunston Hall). A successful Maryland tobacco planter, Hammond owned numerous plantations and other properties throughout the state, and may never have lived in the house. Construction began in 1774 and was likely completed by 1779 when the first tenant, Jeremiah Townley Chase, installed his law offices in part of the house. The building originally sat on a combination of four square city lots, and by all accounts had an enviable garden. Over the years the garden lots were sold off, and today almost nothing remains but a small back yard with a few old-growth boxwoods. The house is a five-part Georgian, laid out in perfect Palladian symmetry. The famous doorway is festooned with garlands of ribbons and roses, and the bull’s eye windows in the front and back pediments feature Chippendale-style cartouches.

For me, the highlight of the visit was discovering that the house has a remarkable little collection of paintings by various members of the Peale family, including Charles Willson Peale, Rembrandt Peale, James Peale, and Charles Peale Polk. I had no idea ~ such a wonderful surprise!

P.S. I apologize for the lack of interior photographs, but photography sadly was not allowed in either house. So, in the spirit of Palladian symmetry I leave you with the prettiest rose I have ever seen ~ blooming right across the street.

historic house tour: paca house

Despite the dreary weather forecasts, this past weekend turned out to be simply lovely ~ warm and sunny, and oh-so-perfect for strolling around Annapolis. There are so many wonderful things to report that I will probably do a series of posts!

Our first stop was the Paca House, located in the heart of Annapolis at 186 Prince George Street. Having been to so many plantation houses this spring, it was a nice change to see a true city house. Built between 1763 and 1765 by William Paca, a wealthy planter and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the house is a five-part Georgian (center hall with two connected flanks). The open layout of the house captures the cool sea breezes in the summer, and takes full advantage of the sunlight in the winter. There are also some lovely Chippendale details and a modest collection of Chesapeake furniture, paintings, silver and other decorative arts.

The highlight of the house is an extensive pleasure garden ~ an oasis of calm in a bustling colonial city. It includes five terraces with formal parterres, boxwood follies, espaliered fruit trees, wildflowers, and a natural pond. At the base of the garden is a lovely Summer House, rebuilt using contemporary references and a small detail in a Charles Willson Peale portrait of Paca.

During the first half of the 20th century, the house was used as a hotel, and a 200-room addition and parking lot were built over the garden. In 1965 the Historic Annapolis Foundation saved the property from demolition, and returned the house to its original 18th-century appearance, removing the addition and painstakingly restoring the garden through archeological investigation.

The formal garden viewed from the house.

The Summer House.

Antique lighting fixture inside the Summer House.

Friday, May 18, 2007

trouvée: lilian

This Friday's found photo ~ inscribed "Lilian 1930." Perfect in her imperfection. Need I say more?

It promises to be a dreary weekend in Washington ~ good thing we are escaping to Annapolis to see all sorts of history! Will report back on Monday about the Paca House and the Hammond-Harwood House (and perhaps a few other fun things). Cheers!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

ahhh, poiret!

Paul Poiret: King of Fashion opened last week at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and runs through August 5th. The flamboyant French designer Poiret revolutionized fashion and brought a new sensibility to dressing during the first quarter of the 20th century. His work marked the beginning of a modernist approach to clothing design and freed women from the petticoat and the corset. I particularly love the navy wool broadcloth La Parisienne dress from 1925 (top) and La Perse coat of 1911 (bottom), the latter with a block-printed textile design by Raoul Dufy. Oh, and the cover of the catalogue is so fantastic!

(images: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

famille rose

Thursday morning eye candy ~ a Qing Dynasty porcelain vase (1736/1795). So contemporary looking, yet over 200 years old. And more yummy sorbet colors...

(image: National Gallery of Art, Washington, Harry G. Steele Collection, Gift of Grace C. Steele)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

parisian chic

Finally had a chance to peruse the May issue of Elle Decoration (British edition!), which I picked up in New York a while ago (why does everything make it to New York months before the rest of the country?). I am in love with Vanessa Bruno's Parisian apartment ~ the light, the sorbet colors, the mix of old and new. Yummy!

birthday greetings!

Happy Birthday to a special May baby (my mom)! If I could I would send you all of these...XX!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

winged creatures

A quick and lovely post today ~ details from some of my favorite John Curtis "bug" prints from British Entomology, which was published in monthly installments from 1824 to 1839. Each engraving is beautifully hand colored ~ and the detail is amazing. Enjoy!

Monday, May 14, 2007


There is nothing quite like the blue of a cornflower ~ so called for their propensity to sprout up in corn and wheat fields. They are also sometimes called "bachelor's buttons" because they traditionally were tucked into a young man's lapel to indicate he was in love. Do you remember the wonderful scene from A Room With a View when George and Mr. Beebe break into the Miss Allens' room and adorn it with cornflowers? No symbolism there! Anyway, it's a fabulously old-fashioned flower ~ sadly, not as common as it used to be due to the use of herbicides in crop fields. These gorgeous blues are from yesterday's farmer's market.

I had a lovely weekend, working on projects I never seem to finish (I am very good at starting them!). Below is a sneak peek at a piece of old furniture I am redoing ~ had to scrape off all the peeling paint before I could repaint it. I sort of like the way the wood looks however...

Friday, May 11, 2007

trouvée: windowsill

This Friday's found photo, inscribed on the back: "Nov. 55 - 8 1/10 EB." The text on the shop signs outside is in German, however I haven't really had a chance to do much research on where the photograph might have been taken. But what a lovely little vignette!

No historic house tour this weekend, but we'll be back at it next Saturday with our final trip of the season ~ to Annapolis. Enjoy the weekend ~ and happy mother's day to all of you moms out there! A special XO to mine!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

ode to edme (1908 - 2006)

I just discovered that my Wedgwood china pattern, Edme, which has been in continuous production since 1908, was discontinued last year. Edme was my grandmother’s wedding china, and was passed down to my mother when I was a child ~ and then recently on to me. Over the years pieces have been broken or chipped, so I have spent the last couple years replacing them (and adding fabulous new pieces like my much-loved teapot). Of course, I never actually bought any new new pieces ~ I found things at flea markets, antique malls, and on the ubiquitous ebay. But somehow, knowing that Wedgwood no longer manufactures it makes me sad. Classic patterns like the Queen’s Ware and Nantucket, have been discontinued in favor of new lines by Jasper Conran (which I admit is pretty wonderful), Vera Wang, and Kelly Hoppen. Perhaps I am just a traditionalist at heart ~ but it is hard to see these good things come to an end!

P.S. I am too much of a sentimentalist to actually get rid of any of the chipped and broken pieces, so they sit nestled in a box in storage.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

summer bag

A little retail therapy never hurt a girl (especially when it's on sale)! My new "St. Barth bag" from J.Crew ~ oh-so-perfect for summer. It was a hard decision ~ Madras plaid, seersucker, gingham, eyelet? I finally decided nothing but the black eyelet would do ~ and then discovered (to my chagrin) that it was sold out online. But my friend Suzy saved the day and found one for me in the store ~ what would I do without you (or J.Crew for that matter)?

fish plate

I know I previously mentioned the Milton Avery watercolor show at Knoedler & Company, but I just received the loveliest little exhibition catalogue in the mail and had to share one of my favorites ~ Fish Plate, c. 1930s.

(image from Magical Means: Milton Avery and Watercolor, published by Knoedler & Company, 2007)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

lilacs, again!

It's a little hard to resist the piles of lilacs at the farmer's market ~ I brought home another armful this weekend... Also, experimented a little with the new camera on an impromptu still life. I am really, really happy with the results.

Monday, May 7, 2007

spring cleaning

So, I did a little spring cleaning this weekend ~ prompted in part by an invitation to participate in a friend's tag sale. It feels good to purge, and dust, and wash, and scrub. Of course I stirred up enough dust to set my allergies on fire, but the upside is that I feel so good knowing I have clean, freshly laundered, starched and ironed linens, and that the thin layer of green pollen coating every surface has been wiped away and washed down the drain. The other perk was that I made almost enough money at the tag sale to buy myself a digital camera. With cash in hand I trotted right over to the store, picked out a camera, and plunked down the money (the poor guy behind the counter had to patiently wait as I counted it all out ~ including 37 $1 bills, and at least $5 in change ~ and then whipped out the plastic to cover the last little bit). I love it! No more borrowing the big old work camera ~ this one is about 1/2" thick and slips right into my purse. I snapped photos like crazy at the farmer's market and experimented with different settings for indoor and out. Ran into a slight technical glitch when I realized that the operating system on my laptop will not support the software. But, I have the "experts" working on it ~ and will hopefully have some photos to share tomorrow.

The above photo is from the online photo gallery at the wonderful British interiors magazine, Living, Etc. (love! love! love!). I also love that you can go online to take a seak peek at the current issue, as it takes forever for the magazine to turn up on newstands on this side of the Atlantic!

(image: Living, Etc., November 2006)

Friday, May 4, 2007

trouvée: tourada

I was a little hesitant to post this image of a bullfight in Lima, Peru, circa 1925 ~ but however you feel about bullfighting, I think this is an incredible photograph. I love the abstract pattern created by the shadows, and the fantastic composition ~ the pole slicing through the jagged line of the shadow, the two men in hats on the lower right, and the bull and matador poised mid confrontation in the upper left. I think this was probably taken at the Plaza de Anco, one of the oldest bullrings in South America, dating back to 1766. Interestingly, I found this photograph at an antique mall in Maine several years ago. It is printed on postal card, but does not have any inscriptions, other than the date (which I suspect was added later).

Wishing you all a lovely weekend! Cheers!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

lovely surprises

Loretta Pettway, "Housetop" variation, 2003

Arlonzia Pettway, "Lazy Gal," c. 1975

I had a lovely surprise today! I helped put together a presentation for an event at work this morning and had just finished setting up and was waiting for the event to begin, when a group of lovely ladies, all gussied up for the occasion, came and sat by me. One introduced herself and, before I could protest, unabashedly gave me a huge hug. As the program began, I realized that these women were some of the quilters of Gee's Bend, Alabama. I was thrilled ~ I hugely admire their work and made several trips to the Gee's Bend exhibition at the Corcoran several years ago. Their work is part of a generations-long tradition of extraordinary quilt making. The quilts are incredibly expressive, colorful, and abstract. The first time I saw them I was shocked by how different they were from any kind of needlework I had seen before. For more on Gee's Bend, there was a great article in the October 2006 issue of Smithsonian Magazine.

The photograph below was taken by FSA photographer, Marion Post Wolcott, in Gee's Bend, Alabama, in 1939. It shows a woman named Jorena Pettway and her daughter ~ they are making a chair cover out of bleached flour sacks and flower decorations from paper. I adore the chairs on the porch, which were made by Jorena, along with almost all the furniture in her house.

(quilts: Collection of the Tinwood Alliance; bottom image: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection)

in the blue

Those of you who read my blog regularly have probably noticed how much I love digital archives ~ and the New York Public Library has one of the best. The library is also home to a rare copy of Anna Atkins' Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions (1843-1853). Atkins was an amateur British botanist, who made use of the then fledgling photographic process to record botanical specimens. In British Algae, she collected and made impressions of over 200 types of seaweed. Though her intent was to create a scientific record, the prints are so aesthetically beautiful.

(images: The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

food for the soul

A few things to inspire, intrigue, and interest:

*An exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum ~ Passing Time: The Art of William Christenberry, through 8 July 2007. Curated by the artist, the exhibition examines the inevitable passage of time through photographs, sculptures, paintings and works on paper.

*At Knoedler Gallery in New York, Magical Means: Milton Avery and Watercolor, 3 May - 10 August 2007. A collection of almost forty watercolors from the artist's family, many of which have never been exhibited before. A quiet and lovely show.

*And an interesting exhibition of work by Tom Molloy, and Irish artist who takes a look at American life and culture, at the Lora Reynolds Gallery in Austin, Texas, 11 May - 23 June 2007. I just received an announcement for the show in the mail, so I checked out the gallery online ~ fantastic website and a really intriguing roster of artists!

(top image: Red Building, 1983; bottom image: Indelible Coke, both copyright William Christenberry)