Monday, November 30, 2009

it's beginning... look a lot like...well! Just a peek at some of my weekend doings: gathering the raw materials. I know it sounds crazy, but I really did get my tree this weekend. Fresh from Virginia, cut just last week the guy said. It smells divine.

Cheers...and happy monday!

Friday, November 27, 2009

trouvée: the winter coat

Inscribed: “My new dodge and / winter coat – not / much dodge but lots / of coat.” Never mind that the fur collar is a little incongruous with the palm trees....

Feeling nostalgic today:

* the end of an era: Kodachrome
* My Parents Were Awesome (via a cup of jo)

Hope you all had a delicious day yesterday...and are enjoying a fridge full of leftovers today! Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I have loved hearing all that you are serving up tomorrow ~ the diversity of your meals and the excitement with which you approach them. Thank you for sharing.

In 1953 the journalist Art Buchwald wrote a column for the Herald Tribune, explaining Thanksgiving to the French, and setting us all straight on a few important historical facts (!). After Buchwald joined The Washington Post in 1962, he continued to run it every year on Thanksgiving day (albeit with a few fresh words of introduction), thus giving himself the week off. Even if you have read it a million times, read it again, because it will make you smile.

And, speaking of food and the French, I thought this article was wonderful.

There are so many things for me to be thankful for this year, not least of all for those of you who stop by this space. So, from my table to yours...Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

cranberry sauce and other things

This past sunday morning was spent at the market gathering ingredients for my two contributions to the Thanksgiving table (potato soufflé and cranberry sauce), along with a jar of red pepper jelly to jazz up all those holiday platters of cheese and crackers. Have you ever noticed that at this time of the year complete strangers have a tendency to voluntarily confide in you the secrets of their holiday dishes? One woman, for example, leaned over to me and said that the key to her potatoes was the addition of puréed celeriac root. And a rather distinguished gentleman in a tweed jacket, with wicker shopping basket in hand, added that the only way to cook collard greens was in bacon fat. Oh, the camaraderie of cooks!

So, do spill ~ what's cookin' in your kitchen?

Friday, November 20, 2009

trouvée: a gem

Another find from Michigan, c. 1865. Uninscribed ~ though I was able to date it based on an embossed patent mark along the right edge (which I couldn't read until I scanned it at a high resolution!). This tintype, which measures approximately 1 x 3/4 inches, is what was known as a "Little Gem." These tiny portraits were inexpensive and convenient, made with a camera which utilized 9 to 16 lenses to create multiple identical images on a single plate. The plate was then cut down, providing the sitter with a handful of photographs that could be distributed to others. The tintype became particularly popular during the Civil War, not only because of its low cost (literally pennies), but because it was on developed metal ~ making it easy for a soldier to tuck an image of his loved one into his pocket without harm.

Some more gems:

* mounted on card
* and tucked into albums

And a sad passing: Jeanne-Claude, who lived a life filled with creativity and love.

Have a good weekend...!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

a labor of love

So this is what had me swooning at Stenton ~ a pocket book made in 1744 by Hannah Logan for John Smith (who she would eventually marry in 1748). At the time John Smith proposed, Hannah was 28, which then was considered an unusual and rather advanced age to be married. In another unusual move, her parents allowed her complete freedom in her choice of a husband ~ something she exercised by refusing a considerably more wealthy suitor in favor of Smith. It was apparently quite a love match, as described by Smith: "the most perfect Harmony our Souls seem'd entirely knit and united together." He chronicled their relationship in his diary, which was published in 1904 and most effectively titled as follows:

Hannah Logan's courtship, a true narrative; the wooing of the daughter of James Logan, colonial governor of Pennsylvania, and divers other matters, as related in the diary of her lover, the Honorable John Smith, assemblyman of Pennsylvania and king's Councilor of New Jersey, 1736-1752 (edited by Albert Cook Myers)

You may read the full text here.

The pocket book itself is exquisitely stitched silk on linen, and inscribed: John Smith / Pocket Book / 1744 (detail photographs here).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

stitches in time

As if the thought of a house full of books wasn't wonderful enough, the sight of the textile collections at Stenton really sent me into a tizzy. In fact, I do believe there was some squealing quilt after quilt was pulled out, and cupboards opened to reveal straw bonnets, satin shoes and embroidered white cotton gowns. Mary Norris, the daughter of Sarah Logan and Isaac Norris, granddaughter of James Logan, and wife of John Dickinson (after whom, incidentally, my alma mater was named), was a renowned needlewoman. She was responsible for several of the quilts in the collection, including perhaps the blue-green silk quilt pictured above, dating to the late 18th century. Stenton's collections also contain more humble objects, such as linen sheets, pillow cases, and laundry bags ~ extraordinary for the very fact that they have survived the rigors of everyday use.

It is so rare and wonderful to see such a variety of original textiles in a house such as Stenton. And I am not done yet, there is something really lovely yet to show you. So, until tomorrow...good night.

Monday, November 16, 2009

historic house tour: stenton

Saturday was a gray, dreary day, but a small group of hardy souls (including Meg of Pigtown*Design and Stefan of Architect Design) overcame the rainy day blues to drive up to Philadelphia to visit two of America's oldest surviving houses ~ Stenton (built 1723-1730) and Cliveden (built 1763-1767) ~ ending the season on a serious high note!

Our first stop was Stenton, where we were met by its director (and his lovely wife) and treated to a most delightful and informative tour. Though the house is now rather incongruously tucked behind a derelict factory in the historic Germantown area of of Philadelphia, it was originally built by James Logan as a country retreat, surrounded by gardens and farmland. The distinguished Georgian-style mansion reflects Logan's Quaker faith, but belies the rich tapestry of its collections ~ there are extraordinary examples of early Philadelphia furniture, original documents, and a truly lovely collection of textiles (about which there is more to come!). James Logan was also know for his library of nearly 3,000 books, one of the largest in the colonies ~ in fact, it was his collection that helped form the basis of the Library Company of Philadelphia. He designed special bookcases (an original example of which was recently found in the attic) to fit into what is known as the Blue Lodging Room. But even so there were apparently piles everywhere, prompting George Logan's wife Deborah to call the room her "apartment in the library."

There are so many wonderful layers to Stenton, which I will explore in the next few days. In the mean time, there are lots more photographs here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

trouvée: a portrait

I immediately went digging for this photograph after reading David Colman's piece on men's fashion in The New York Times. Another find from Michigan ~ mounted on card and inscribed: "11 Marshall St." Father and son...or perhaps brothers?

Some bits and bobs (of a less respectable sort):

* an extraordinary archive of mugshots
* including the bite
* with more here (because I could go through them for hours)

And on subject of collecting ~ I thought this was an interesting article.

Have a great weekend! I am off to Philadelphia.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

historic house tour: meyer may house

In 1908 Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned to design a house for the Grand Rapids clothier Meyer May, and his wife Sophie. Completed in 1909, the house is a classic example of Wright’s “Prairie School” style, standing out amongst its Victorian neighbors with refreshing modernity. The linear horizontal lines of the pale-brick house are reinforced by a low cantilevered roof and long terraces. One of the most beautiful aspects of the house is its art glass windows and skylights ~ which on a late fall afternoon fill the interior with a golden glow. Many of the interior details were designed by Wright, with important contributions by George Niedecken who worked to finish the project after Wright’s departure for Europe in 1909. Niedecken’s work includes an extraordinary mural of hollyhocks that wraps around a dividing wall between the foyer and dining room.

The house was acquired in 1985 by Steelcase, an office furniture manufacturer based in Grand Rapids. The company began an extensive restoration campaign that included shoring up the roof, removing a 1922 Osgood & Osgood addition (which had doubled the size of the house), and returning the interior to its original appearance. Though the house is now used primarily for business functions, the company opens it for public tours several times a week.

(a few more photographs here!)

Monday, November 9, 2009

home cooking

This weekend I rekindled my love affair with home cooking. Funny how when one is relaxed, time in the kitchen becomes a delight (rather than a chore)! Sunday morning, I made myself a cup of tea, grabbed some of my favorite cook books off the shelf and jumped back into bed. After planning a week's worth of meals, I threw on some clothes and headed to the market. In the bag: new potatoes, fresh sage, butternut squash, cauliflower, baby spinach, local mozzarella, and a half gallon of apple cider. Spinach quiche was the first item on the menu (much to the delight of my stitching group). And later this week: potato chowder (courtesy of Heidi Swanson) ~ a recipe too good not to share:

Rustic Potato Chowder

8-10 slices bacon (or fake bacon)
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups unpeeled new potatoes
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
4 cups milk
1 cup Gruyère cheese (optional)

In a large pot, cook bacon until brown and crisp. Cool and chop into small pieces. Set aside. In same pot, heat the olive oil and add onions, shallots, and garlic, until soft. Add potatoes and salt, and sauté for about 2 minutes, then add mustard and milk. Bring to boil and simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the soup thickens and the potatoes are soft throughout. Whisk in cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with extra bacon, fresh chives, and/or chive blossoms.

(from Cook 1.0)

Oh, but the highlight of the weekend had nothing to do with food ~ I was treated to a special tour of the Slayton House! Just gorgeous.

Friday, November 6, 2009

trouvée: the couple

The only thing I will tell you about this was that it was a gift. (Oh, and click to view larger...because you really should take a closer look.)

Just two things today:

* the father photographer
* and some more couples

Wishing you all a good weekend. xo

Thursday, November 5, 2009

feeling blue

Oh Gourmet, I really do miss you...

(photographs by Jonny Valiant, September 2009 issue)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

november days

All of a sudden it is November. Really, when did that happen? Anyway, I am back from Michigan ~ and somehow the evenings seem shorter and the mornings colder. Haven't had a chance to go through the photographs from my trip, but I do promise that there is a house tour to come in the next couple days. In the meantime, I thought I would warm you up with thoughts of green gardens, cozy houses, and a couple things to tempt the palate:
* Mrs. Delany at Yale (the catalogue is amazing!)
* an eclectic farmhouse in the Catskills
* and the buzz in Washington these days

(above: in the greenhouse at Ten Chimneys)