Friday, October 30, 2009

trouvée: trick or treat

Faded but fabulous. Another treasure from Michigan ~ from the 50¢ box. Inscribed: "From Foster to / Aunt Kit." It just cracks me up ~ seriously, poor Foster, with the ruffled collar, polka-dot bow and massive floral corsage (click to view larger).

Some other things to make you smile:

* Parsely Steinweiss on 20x200
* Uta Barth, . . . in passing, 1999
* Kris Atomic (via a cup of jo)

I have my bags packed. Headed (mid)west for a few days. See you next the meantime, do try to stay out of mischief.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

historic house tour: hampton

Several weeks ago, a small group of local bloggers (Stefan, Meg, and Michael), and a good friend from college, joined me for a tour of Hampton. As with most things these days, I am a little behind on the house tours, so I hope you will forgive my tardiness ~ especially since Meg has already delighted you all with a fabulous summary of our trip (here and here).

An impressive Georgian-style mansion, Hampton sits high on a hill in Towson, Maryland, overlooking what was once a 25,000-acre estate belonging to the prominent Ridgely family. Construction on the main house began in 1783, and when completed in 1790 it was the largest private residence in America. The color of the unusual pink stucco exterior is derived from the local soil, and was at one time much pinker than it is now. To my mind, Hampton has a distinctly English feel ~ in fact, Charles Ridgley is said to have been inspired by Castle Howard, his mother's ancestral home.

The interiors are extraordinary ~ ranging in style from Georgian to Victorian, and including many original furnishings. However, one of its greatest treasures, Thomas Sully’s portrait of Eliza Ridgely, 1818, is now in the collection of the National Gallery (where, I might add, I visit it often). During the 19th century Hampton was famous for its grounds, which included six parterre gardens, laid out on a series of three terraces, and planted with ornamental flowers and boxwood. The National Park Service, which now owns the property, has restored two of the parterres, and rebuilt the 1820s Greek Revival-style orangery, which was destroyed by fire in 1928.

You can see a bit more of the tour on my flickr ~ oh, and some bloggers in action.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

a weekend in west virginia

Last month, overwhelmed by my hectic jury schedule, I asked my friend Anne if she would stop by with a guest post. Little did I know that she would so graciously take us along on a recent family trip (thank you! thank you!):

A few weeks ago, we packed up our little family for an all-too-brief jaunt to the mountains of West Virginia. We have been many times, and the cabin we visit, which is situated on the Shavers Fork of the Cheat River, at the edge of the Monongahela National Forest, never disappoints.

We discovered the Goff House Antiques & Textile Studio in the nearby town of Beverly on one of our last trips. The house, which dates to the late eighteenth century, became an important site during the Civil War. Its owner, Confederate Colonel David Goff, fled to the South after the Battle of Rich Mountain in July 1861, and for the remainder of the war the house was used as an official U.S. Army hospital. The building is now owned by Historic Beverly Preservation and has been restored ~ and preserved on the walls are the writings and signatures of soldiers treated there.

Four and a half years ago, local textile artist Laurie Gundersen rented the house to use as a studio. She has found consignors to fill the rooms with American antiques, art, and other handmade objects. Exploring the house one discovers artists’ workspaces, quilts, fabrics, antique furniture, books and other delights, displayed in quirky juxtaposition. We always find something special to bring home.

See more of the Goff House here!

Monday, October 26, 2009

in pursuit of ugly

Fall produce is unapologetically ugly. Seriously...who was the first person to look at a rutabaga and think: "I'll have that for dinner"!? And yet I can't resist all those gnarled root vegetables. Beets are my favorites ~ especially when roasted (a few good tips here). Slice, dice, puree, and roast ~ fall cooking is so much fun (especially when you have time to do it)!

I thought this article was interesting. What do you think?

Friday, October 23, 2009

trouvée: the photographer

No date ~ no inscription. Found this past summer at an antique store in Michigan.

Lots of good stuff today:

* sun pictures (take some time to explore)
* Someone's Life: Photographs Collected by Gerard Malanga (more here!)
* The Case of the Inappropriate Alarm Clock (a link from JTL)
* 3191: Evenings

And a celebration of a great photographer: Irving Penn, 1917 - 2009

Today marked the end of five loooooong weeks of jury duty. Hurrah! I am looking forward to getting my life back on an even keel ~ and catching up on sleep, bills, laundry, and blog reading! I know I owe a lot of you emails ~ I haven't forgotten, and promise to be in touch soon. Lots planned here for next week, including a guest post. And coming up in November: book week!

Cheers...and happy, happy friday!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

in the greenhouse

One of the (many!) highlights of the Pennsylvania trip was a special tour of Henry Clay Frick's Clayton House in Pittsburgh, organized by the ever-creative author of Architect Design. And last week, with his usual flair, Stefan treated us all to a fantastic overview of the house and grounds. Building on that excellent foundation, I thought I would take you inside Clayton's wonderful little wedding cake of a greenhouse (oh, it is impossibly cute). Full of fragrant herbs, tomato plants, rows of fresh baby greens, orchids, and terracotta pots of cacti, it is a true working greenhouse...even supplying produce to the nearby Café at the Frick.

So, take a peek...and enjoy!

P.S. The entire Pennsylvania album is here (and growing day by day!).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

at dusk

Our last night in Pennsylvania. We grabbed glasses of wine and headed out to the fields to watch the sun set over the hills. A fleeting moment of pure contentment. Followed by more wine and spaghetti. It was one of those days you just don't want to give up.

Things I am looking forward to this weekend:

* some sleep
* the Wild Things
* a little Plum Wine

And you??

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

over the hills

...and into the woods. Fallingwater really is one of the most magical places I have ever been. I have seen it in the winter, silently covered with snow, the waterfalls dusk, the stucco walls pink in the sun's afterglow...and now in the fall, water rushing and leaves ablaze with color. And I am always in awe.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

a weekend away

There is nothing like a weekend in the mountains of Western Pennsylvania to restore one's spirit. Take along 9 friends, several bottles of wine, a case of beer and a cooler full of food...and it is pure perfection! The days were spent touring houses from Gilded to Wright, eating good food (ummm...LOTS of good food), and drinking wine at sunset. Can't wait to share it all with you, but first I have some 400 photographs to sort through.


(above: two bits from Kentuck Knob)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

beans and things

It is beginning to look a lot like fall at the sunday market: beans, squash, apples. I have been cooking simple meals this week ~ roast chicken with green beans and garlic, quiche and tomato salad. Oh, and there's an acorn squash on the menu for tomorrow.

Honestly, there isn't much to tell you all...the long days in the jury room don't leave time for fun! But, I have a few things up my sleeve for next week. In the mean time, I am hoarding past issues of Gourmet (I am beyond devastated).

But, this little bit of home makes me happy!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

an interview: ten chimneys, part II

Stepping in the front door of Ten Chimneys I was blown away ~ not only by its intimate scale, but the endless creativity of its owners. It is no easy task to describe the interiors of the house, however if anyone is up to the job, it is KDM. So, we take a Wisconsin cheddar cheese and Ritz cracker break, refill our glasses, and begin again...

JCB: Tell me about the house itself ~ how would you describe it?

KDM: A surprise at every turn. There isn’t any classical unity to the house ~ each interior was thought of as a stage set. But, while eclectic, nothing is accidental. The Lunts collaborated with set designer and decorator Claggett Wilson in the creation of the interiors. He painted magnificent Rex Whistler-esque murals throughout the house and guided the Lunts in the selection of objects.

The Lunts did not collect things in the traditional sense, they acquired them like props, always wondering: what is the story of this room? and how do these objects enhance its atmosphere? For example, we have a table stamped by French cabinetmaker Georges Jacob alongside a chest made by the Widdicomb Furniture Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan. And in the 1950s 3M came out with gilt scotch tape for wrapping Christmas gifts ~ well, the Lunts decided to use it to “gild” the trim of the wood paneling in the Cottage.

I could go on and on...but Claggett Wilson said it best when he described Ten Chimneys as “Neo-Rococo Surrealism.”

JCB: Do you have a favorite room?

KDM: It changes. Currently it is the Library with its gorgeous quarter-sawn oak (with a faint white wash to antique it). The room is hung with pre-Raphaelite style paintings by their friend Graham Robertson and two portraits of Lynne Fontanne by Wilfred and Jane de Glehn. And the books! All inevitably inscribed to the Lunts by their authors: Noel Coward, Thomas Wilder, Kenneth Clark, Beverly Nichols, Elsie de Wolf, Edna Ferber, Alexander Woollcott. Just incredible.

JCB: Tell me a little bit about an average day on the estate…how does your day begin, for example?

KDM: After a cup of coffee I could be unclogging a gutter, changing a light bulb, presiding over the funeral of a dead rodent, cutting flowers from the garden, scraping paint, meeting with contractors, greeting visitors, scratching my head over a spreadsheet. Then suddenly its lunch time.

JCB: What are you looking forward to as the seasons change?

KDM: The autumn programs ~ our popular series of play readings by the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s interns is excellent.

JCB: Okay darling, tell me something fabulous!

KDM: Just yesterday I discovered documentation that the great Elsie de Wolf selected some “French china” the “color of azaleas” for the Lunts ~ so I am on the hunt for what set that might be.

My dear KDM ~ thank you! thank you! And may spring bring you all the azaleas you could possibly hope for! (p.s. more photographs of the interior here!)

Friday, October 2, 2009

trouvée: at the museum

No date or inscription. I don't recognize where this photograph was any of you?

A few goodies today:

* Paolo Ventura ~ Winter Stories (more here)
* Mickey Smith's latest on the 20x200 Thursday Edition
* and Playing with Pictures (oh my, Madam B!)

Thank you all for your comments and emails this week! I am hanging in there, but this grand jury stuff is tough. Really tough. Just trying to balance it all with life and work is exhausting. But, check back later this weekend...the second installment of my interview with KDM is waiting in the wings.

Happy, happy friday!