Wednesday, December 31, 2008


The last day of the year is always such a strange day...and for some reason, it always makes me feel slightly unsettled. I much prefer new year's day, which always feels so fresh and full of possibilities. And generally I do not make resolutions...or at least not very realistic ones. But this year, I resolve to cook more at home (there's a big pot of spicy chili waiting at home for me tonight) ~ and to read more. In 2008, I read much less than I normally do and I am not sure why. But, I am off to a good start, armed with a pile of new books:

* The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent (which I just finished and thoroughly enjoyed)
* A Stopover in Venice by Kathryn Walker (who can resist a bit of gothic romance?)
* The Seamstress by Frances De Pontes Peebles (an epic winter read)
* Esther's Inheritance by Sandor Márai
* and a beat up old copy of The Scarlet Letter (unearthed while moving the apartment)

And you all...? I wish you all peace and joy in whatever you do!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

home sweet home

Home. Mmmmm. Doesn't my mom make a cozy bed!? I spent a lot of time in that warm sunny spot, curled up reading books and fighting a chest cold. There was lots of snow in Maine...making it look like a picture-perfect Christmas card! Because we were all sick, it was a quiet, peaceful holiday, filled with books and good food. The way it should be I think. Here are some of our simple joys:

* roast goose with Texas fruitcake stuffing (the latter a new invention on our part, and really quite delicious!)
* smoked Maine salmon
* a menagerie of sugar cookies sprinkled with colored sugar
* lots of tea
* sweet gifts exchanged with happy surprise
* and a few long winter naps!

I hope you too had a lovely holiday.

Friday, December 19, 2008

trouvée: noël

I found these recently on eBay and couldn't resist. I would love to know the back story ~ Christmas decorations somewhere on the Mediterranean coast (!?) ~ and the sassy woman in black (click to view larger). Mmmm...I leave it to your imaginations.

I am signing off today until after Christmas, so I wish you all a holiday full of joy and laughter. Be well and if you are traveling, do it safely. Cheers! xo.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

a few flakes

While much of the United States is being blanketed by snow and ice, this is as close as we've gotten to seeing any flakes! Is it wrong to love snow so much? Maybe it is because I am a winter baby. I will content myself with Abby's gorgeous photographs ~ these lovely "flakes" (via Camilla) ~ and few in wax (too sweet!).

Happy thursday!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

winter light

Two images of the interior of the Northeast Outhouse at Stratford. The light in there is so wonderful...even on a short December's like a Dutch still life. I would love to spend an afternoon there...potting bulbs and misting orchids.

Some things I am loving right now:
* and my friend Emily's new blog (congrats EEE!)

Cheers all!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas at Stratford

It was a glorious weekend in Virginia for saturday evening's holiday festivities at Stratford Hall (complete with music and dancing)! To see the house lit only by bonfire and candlelight, looking much as it would have in the eighteenth century, is an amazing sight. I did try to capture it by camera, but it was virtually impossible.

Sunday morning was bright and cold and perfect for a quiet walk around the estate (while others slept off the effects of the festive libations!). I didn't see another soul, and was able to snap away uninterrupted. So, while I don't have much from saturday evening, I can show you a little bit of winter morning calm on the estate ~ for more, see here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

trouvée: the skater

Found several years ago on eBay ~ a photograph by Lothar Rübelt of the Austrian figure skater, Willy Böckl, at the 1926 World Figure Skating Championships in Berlin. I really love the playful nature of this image.

Friday links ~ some great things going on in the photo world:

* Eggleston
* Sander's Children
* and Michael Eastman

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend. I am off for some holiday cheer at Stratford Hall!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

holiday giving

This year I am trying very hard to keep presents simple, but thoughtful. And so, here are some of the things I will be giving this year:

To keep them warm and happy:
* hand-knit Irish mittens
* a special tin of tea
* vintage tea towels and French soap
* hand-dipped candles wrapped up with a pretty box of matches

To tickle their palette:
* a bottle of Virginia dessert wine tied up with a little felt bird
* sea-salt caramels (my father's favorite)
* or a jar of spicy plum chutney

To support the arts:
* a special Christmas ornament
* my favorite notecards
* and little goodies from the Decatur House, Monticello, and more

I have tried very hard to buy from local businesses and crafts people, and to support cultural institutions such as museums, historic houses, gardens, and other non-profit organizations. I also would love to know some of your own gift ideas.

And, my dear friends and loved ones, I hope I haven't given away too many surprises...!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

holiday outings

As promised, here are some of my favorite holiday destinations in Washington (and beyond!):

* skating in the Sculpture Garden
* Windows to Wonderland at the Botanic Garden
* dreaming of warmer climates at the Freer
* singing along at American History (December 13-14)
* Mount Vernon by Candlelight (weekends through December 14)
* and Christmas at Stratford Hall (December 12-13)

This list is just a small sampling of the wonderful ways to celebrate the season, so for a full list of Smithsonian museums, see here ~ and for a more complete list of events around town, see the City Paper.


Monday, December 8, 2008

holiday errands

It is beginning to lot a lot like Christmas around here. This past weekend was full of the lovely little things that make the holiday special ~ eggnog and homemade cookies, paperwhites and Christmas trees, warm fires and friends...and a dusting of snow. I am trying to keep things really simple this year ~ and it feels good! A couple people emailed to ask about my gift-giving ideas, so I am hoping to get a little list together this week. And also a post about some of my favorite museums in Washington (in response to a comment on friday's post). So, stay tuned...and stay warm.

Friday, December 5, 2008

trouvée: back of the house

Found in Maine this past weekend at one of my favorite haunts ~ the Big Chicken Barn. It is not inscribed, but there is a photographer's studio stamp on the back from Albany, New York. I love that this humble little scene has been mounted on such a formal cabinet card.

Lots of photo goodies today:

* Elegance
* Hong Kong Yesterday
* New York, N. Why?
* Anonymous Works (a bit more than just photographs!)
* and the Blackbird

The other day I heard a snippet on the news about alternative (and inexpensive) ways to enjoy the holiday season. One suggestion was to visit a museum. While I was a bit miffed at the notion that visiting a museum is an "alternative" activity, I do think that is a good idea ~ and a great way to support these institutions in troubling times. So, on a local note, there is a lot going on here (from caroling to ice skating...and more!).

Next week, I have some holiday-related things in store for you! In the mean time, enjoy the weekend.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

northern lights

It gets dark so early in Maine at this time of the year ~ this image was taken at Cleonice, where we stopped for lunch (mmmm...lamb burgers) on the way to the airport ~ so cozy and warm in there.

Thank you all for your comments on yesterday's post. It is a little hard to focus on much right now...but I'll get back into the swing of things. Lots of goodies for friday's post. xo.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

thanksgiving in maine

Backyard details from my parents house in Maine ~ things were looking very wintery. We had a lovely holiday full of warm fires and happy laughter. I hope all of you in the states did too. My heart is a bit heavy today as we lost our sweet dog this morning ~ I am thankful we all got to spend one last holiday with her, but am glad now that her valiant heart doesn't have to work so hard. She will be missed terribly.