Friday, December 30, 2011

a new year

I always look forward to a new year. I love the quiet and calm that new year's day brings, and the sense of hope one has for the coming year. Even though we inevitably bring our baggage along with us, a new year somehow feels like a clean slate. History waiting to be written.

We make lists and resolutions. We clean house, and start fresh. The glitter and pomp of Christmas ~ as much as I love it ~ begins to seem like clutter. I yearn for simple things, like a warm wool blanket, a cup of tea, and a new book.

So, here are some things I'm looking forward to enjoying this new year:

* a new taste
* a new bottle
* a new coat
* a new book (inspiring a new project)
* and some new adventures. . .

Happy New Year, friends!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

hello winter

A winter storm chased us as the gentleman and I drove back from Michigan on tuesday. Snow softly blanketed the landscape as we traveled in to Indiana and on to Ohio, finally turning to torrential rain as we approached Pennsylvania. Winter is here indeed.

Our holiday was warm and bright, a blurr of activity, presents, and family! And yesterday I turned 40. A strange milestone in some ways. I have been trying to decide if I actually feel middle aged. I don't think I do.

Cheers all!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

the holly and the ivy

This past weekend the gentleman and I attended evensong at the National Cathedral to celebrate the fourth sunday in Advent ~ a lovely reminder that this is a season for peace and quiet reflection. There is something about the acoustics of a cathedral that lends the human voice a heavenly quality. Just amazing.

We leave early tomorrow morning for a long drive north to spend the holiday with the gentleman's family in Michigan. So, I will sign off until the new year, wishing you all much love and joy this holiday.

And if you have a moment:

The Holly and The Ivy

{my favorite}

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

deck the halls!

Season's Greetings friends!

I was just saying to a colleague that we should be able to add two hours to each day in December ~ there is just so much to do and so little time in which to do it! This past weekend we took a little time out from our hectic life to attend a friend's baptism and hear some of the Messiah. A good reminder of what the season's all about.

In other news, I am delighted to tell you that a certain project that the gentleman and I have been working on has (at last!) come to fruition ~ the gentleman's website! And blog! If you have a moment, please hop on over there and let him know what you think.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

trouvée: thanksgiving dinner

No inscription or date, but if you look carefully you'll see the turkey front and center. A Thanksgiving meal of a day gone by. {click image to view larger}

Eat, drink and be merry with a few new twists on some old holiday classics:

* sweet potatoes + marshmallow biscuits
* a squash crumble
* and a little something for the morning after

Happy Thanksgiving to friends and family near and far!


(I'll be back monday with one last book week post.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

book week: a fabulous feast

Let’s face it, there is little much besides food that I can think about this week. So I am delighted to tell you about a wonderful new cookbook, Dining with the Washingtons, which is sure to satisfy both your palate and delight your sense of historical curiosity. What did our forbearers really eat?

Pulling from Martha Washington’s own recipe box, as well as other traditional 18th-century sources such as Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery, this cook book presents some 90 historic recipes, adapted for the modern cook by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump. The recipes are complimented with information exploring the menus, diet, and styles of entertaining enjoyed by those dining with the Washingtons at Mount Vernon. Included are all sorts of classic dishes, from hoe cakes and dressed crab to syllabub and cherry pie. And if Martha’s famous Great Cake isn’t enough to tempt you, perhaps the gorgeously-styled photographs of food and interiors will.

When I decided to write about this book, I asked the editor Stephen MacLeod if he would allow me to include a recipe to whet your appetite. And he graciously agreed. These stewed pears (pictured above left) are a simple, but elegant compliment to any holiday meal. Enjoy. . . and Happy Thanksgiving!

Stewed Pears

The title of this Hannah Glasse recipe may confuse modern readers. Her directions specify baked, not stewed, pears, although they are to be baked in red wine or port if the recipe below is followed. Glasse noted, however, that the fruit “will [also] be very good with water in the place of wine.” As an alternative to baking, she suggested stewing the pears in a saucepan set over a low fire, using the same ingredients. Serves 6 to 8.

6 to 8 large ripe pears, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cored
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar
3 whole cloves
1 cup red wine or port

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Arrange the pears in a single layer in a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the lemon zest and sugar over the pear halves, and place the whole cloves in the dish. Pour the wine (or port) over the pears.

3. Cover the dish with aluminum foil, and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the fruit can be easily pierced with a skewer or paring knife, basting occasionally with the liquid. The pears should be tender but not soft enough to break into pieces.

4. Remove the pears from the oven, and set aside to cool completely in the baking dish before serving.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Food styled by Lisa Cherkasky and photography by Renee Comet (all images courtesy of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

book week: flight of fancy

I knew from an early age there was adventure to be found at the museum. A place full of magnificent tales and amazing journeys. Indeed, today’s book confirms it ~ Belle: The Amazing, Astonishingly Magical Journey of an Artfully Painted Lady.

It all begins with a 17th-century Dutch still life (Jan Davidsz de Heem’s A Vase of Flowers, for those of you with particularly curious minds) at the National Gallery of Art. When an employee accidently jostles the painting, two small butterflies are dislodged from the canvas ~ beautiful Belle and her friend Brimstone. There begins a journey to find their way home, navigating the expansive marble halls of the museum and overcoming adversity in the guise of a very hungry bird. Along the way, Belle gives us a butterfly’s view of some of the Gallery’s most famous artworks.

You really never know where she and Brimstone will land. . .

. . . until they find themselves back where they belong.

The book is intended for readers aged 8 to 11, but anyone with an adventurous spirit will be delighted by Belle.

I have had the pleasure of watching as Belle developed from the cocoon of an idea to a fully fledged butterfly ~ the author, Mary Lee Corlett, sits right next to me every day (my friend and colleague). I won’t tell you anything more about the process of bringing Belle to the world, because Mary Lee explains it best.

Happy reading!

All images courtesy of Bunker Hill Publishing, except: Jan Davidsz de Heem, A Vase of Flowers, c. 1660, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Andrew W. Mellon Fund, 1961.6.1.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

book week: a taste for the exotic

When a copy of the recent Vendome Press publication, Exotic Taste: Orientalist Interiors, by Emmanuelle Gaillard, principal photography by Marc Walter, landed in my mailbox earlier this fall, it was almost like Christmas in September. Pages packed with sumptuous full-color images of architectural interiors, wallpapers, textiles and pattern books.

Certainly, much has been written about Orientalism and the Chinoiserie style, but few publications have put together so many instructive images in one place ~ modern and historic photographs of seldom-published interiors from St. Petersburg to Naples. Gaillard’s text lucidly explains the origins of the Western passion for the exotic and traces its development throughout Europe, from the restrained elegance of the 18th-century “Embroidered Room” in the Chinese Pavilion at the palace of Drottningholm, Sweden (above), to the pure exuberance of the late 19th-century Arab Hall at Leighton House in London (below). My one criticism is that, given the tremendous role that The Netherlands played in trade of ideas between East and West, there are no Dutch interiors included. The famous Chinese Room and Japanese Chamber at Huis ten Bosch in The Hague for starters. (But really, I am just being greedy.)

My only hope is that someone will write a similarly luxurious book on the exotic in America, beginning with the “Chinese Room” room at Gunston Hall in Virginia (one of the earliest such expressions of Chinoiserie in the colonies), to Olana, the famous Persian-style home of Frederic Edwin Church in the Hudson Valley, and the now lost Iranistan of P.T. Barnum (pieces of which can be seen at the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Connecticut).

All photographs courtesy of Vendome Press.

From top to bottom: 1) the “Embroidered Room” in the Chinese Pavilion at the palace of Drottningholm, Sweden; 2 and 3) elevation of the Arab Hall, Leighton House, London, built 1877 and 1899 by Geroge Aitchison, and a view of the actual hall; 4 and 5) detail of a tapestry, Asia, Sallandrouze Factory, after Jean-BaptisteAmédée Couder, 1844 (Musée du Louvre), and slant-top writing desk (once owned by Madame de Pompadour), attributed to Adrien Faizelot-Delorme (Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris); 6 and 7) detail of a long shawl designed by A. Berrus, manufactured in Paris, and a “sortie-de-bal” made from a cashmere shawl (Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris); 8) samples of woodblock-printed cotton, 1792 (Musée de la Jouy, Jouy-en-Josas, France).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

book week 2011

Well . . . it's that time of year again! Normally I ask some fellow bloggers (and friends) to contribute to book week, but there has been such a flurry of fabulous new publications this year that I thought I'd put together a holiday wish list of my top favorites. From kids to cooks to connoisseurs . . . I have a bunch of goodies in store! So bibliophiles, polish up those reading glasses and stay tuned. The party starts tomorrow.

Until then, cheers.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

that golden light

On sunday the gentleman and I ventured out to Georgetown for an afternoon walk, stopping along the way to take photographs and admire the Halloween decorations. We ended up at Café Bonaparte, known for its crêpes and Belgian frites. An hour later, a "glass of beer" had somehow turned into dinner and we walked out with our tummies full. That wonderful golden autumnal light followed us home, lengthening our shadows with each step.

The days are getting shorter.

Be well, friends.

Monday, October 24, 2011

apple season

My favorite time of the year. Need I say more?

Cheers friends!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

a picnic spot

Picking a good picnic spot is always key. . . not too wet, not too sunny, not too buggy. . . something with a view, but secluded enough for a smooch with one's honey. Last saturday, the gentleman and I hopped in the car with a packed lunch of fresh bread, cheese, meats, and honey crisp apples. We drove down to Barboursville Winery, and after a rather hectic tasting session, decided on a cold bottle of Riesling and headed over to the famous ruins for a déjeuner sur l'herbe.

Anniversary perfection!

Thank you all for the kind wishes!!! It is hard to believe we have been married a year. What a wonderful time we have had.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

one year ago today

. . . I married my gentleman.

{ xo }

(photograph by Kate Headley)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

the long weekend

Why is it that three-day weekends always seem to pass by so quickly?

Saturday was spent with friends, and monday was a day for a serious "fall cleaning" (linens washed, wood floors scrubbed, closet organized). Sunday, we decided, was a day for an outing. . . in Leesburg, Virginia. We had no agenda, and lingered over a long lunch at the Wine Kitchen (we highly recommend the sweet potato gnocchi and the duck confit), before wandering around town, poking our noses into a few antique shops. We almost left empty handed (the selection was rather disappointing), but decided to stop at the German Favorite Antiques on our way out of town. Don't let the goofy name fool you. . . it's like walking into a Bavarian schloss. Seriously. Packed full of fabulous old furniture (from country farmhouse to Biedermeier), linens, porcelain, clocks, tools and any number of curiosities. We couldn't resist a gigantic old wicker hamper (to store all those nice clean linens in!).

Anyway, it has been a while since I left you with some links:

* Moving Day (a year ago!)
* Garden
* a New Orleans aesthetic
* and this post

Happy tuesday.

Friday, October 7, 2011

in boston

Summer has somehow slipped into fall, the days are shorter and the evenings are cooler (which suits this Yankee girl just fine). The gentleman and I were up in Boston for a few days last week ~ wandering around Beacon Hill and a few fabulous museums in between conference sessions. My parents joined us in the city over the weekend, and together we enjoyed some seriously good meals! Such fun! But now our noses are back to the grindstone. . . sigh.

Just stopping by to say hello. . . and promise a few goodies to come next week.

Until then, be well.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

the sound of silence

Hello my old friends! Sorry to have been so long absent. September always greets one with a whirlwind of activity and storm of projects.

The gentleman and I have been busy putting the final touches on a certain "project" and I hope to reveal some details to you soon. It has been a ton of work and is certainly the biggest online venture (hint, hint) I have ever been involved with (besides this blog of course!). And hopefully when it is done, I'll be able to get back here more regularly.

I have been posting over on Instagram however (@jcbphoto) . . . if you don't have an iPhone (or Instagram), you can follow me online here. And the gentleman too ! ! !

Hope you are all well.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

an outing

The gentleman and I passed a quiet Labor Day weekend at home, working on odds and ends. Feeling a bit of cabin fever however, we decided to hop in the car on sunday afternoon and drive to Gunston Hall. It was not my first trip. . . but we were both eager to see the progress of recent restorations. And the house did not disappoint. Dressed in fresh paints, damask and gilt, the interior is now a feast for the eyes ~ scarlet reds, sunny yellows, and dramatic verdigris greens. It was just the shot of inspiration we need!

And so now, onward to autumn. . . .

Hope you are well.

Friends on the east coast, be safe in these terrible rains.

Friday, September 2, 2011

trouvée: grandpa's lima beans

A recent find, an old cyanotype printed on postal card. It reads: "Aug. 29th 06 Dear Cousin / This is Grandpa among / his lima beans taken last / summer. With Love from Lucy." The back is postmarked North Anson, Maine, 29 August 1906, and addressed to Mrs. A. E. Hilton. {click image to view larger}

I just love, love, love it.

Some things:

* Camille's view of Maine
* The Clothesline
* and the dump (Yankee ingenuity)

I'm home sick I suppose (wish I was headed north for Labor Day).

Have a good weekend friends!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

feeling lucky

After a week that seemed like a page out of a doomsday novel. . . earthquakes, hurricanes. . . life in Washington has quietly settled back to normal. We were lucky, very lucky, considering the scope of the destruction wrought by Irene along the east coast. My heart goes out to all from North Carolina to my home state of Maine. My family is safe and well, but there are so many others who are not.

Every morning I walk past the Newseum on my way to work. Lining the entrance are daily copies of the front pages of local newspapers from all over the country. There you can find the local interest stories sadly lacking from The New York Times, or on CNN. Entire communities wiped out or stranded by flood waters that continue to rise. Historic buildings and bridges washed away by water. Many tough, but tired people. It is summer now, but these folks will soon be headed into a cold New England winter. It's hard to think about.

But, here are some ways to help on an immediate, local level:

* American Red Cross of Vermont & New Hampshire Valley
* American Red Cross Connecticut Region
* The Preservation Trust of Vermont

And here in Washington, the National Cathedral sustained several million dollars of damage in last week's earthquake. You can help the repair effort.

If anyone has additional suggestions for local aid organizations, please add them in the comments.

Here's hoping you are all safe and well.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

a day in virginia

A bit more from our day in Virginia, visiting Stratford Hall. The apple trees were in full glory, braches straining under the weight of a bumper crop.

P.S. All are fine after the 5.9 earthquake here in Washington.

Be well. Be safe.

Monday, August 22, 2011

an apple a day

A lovely weekend! Clear, warm days interrupted by a thunderstorm or two (with enough drama to be interesting, but not so much to cause serious damage). The gentleman and I decided a field trip was in order, so we hopped in the car on friday and drove down to the northern neck of Virginia to spend the day with a bit of history (more on that to come). There was a touch of fall in the air, which always puts me in a good mood. The apple trees were laden with fruit and the corn stalks so tall they obliterated the horizon. A few yellow leaves were stirring in the wind. Nothing like some fresh air to clear a foggy mind.

But, then there were papers to organize, an apartment to clean, and laundry to do. . . so back to reality. Oh, and the gentleman and I are working on an exciting project I hope to show you soon.


And happy monday.

Friday, August 19, 2011

trouvée: a kiss

My parents were married 44 years ago today. And after all those years, they still enjoy a good kiss. (This is not them, but if I'd had access to their wedding album. . . I would have pilfered a photo). Happy Anniversary to one swell couple. xo {click image to view larger}



weekend all!

(the gentleman and I are playing hookey today, shhhh)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

quiet mornings

It has been a busy week. And not quite half over! With the weather cooling off a bit, the gentleman and I have started taking early morning walks. The streets are still quiet and the light is beautiful. We don't talk much, both still wiping sleep from our eyes and dreaming of caffeine. But, he'll hold my hand, and we'll stop occasionally to silently admire a building or peek through a garden gate. Sometimes the best part of being with someone is not having to say anything at all.

Some things:

* 5 Beekman Street (thanks Anne!)
* bread from Gran's Kitchen
* and Always With Butter


Friday, August 12, 2011

trouvée: the picnic

No date. No inscriptions. Just two lovers in the woods. My favorite photo find of the year. {click image to view larger}

Some beauties today:

* From the Winter Woods
* Bucks Mill Cabin
* and 3191 gets a makeover!

Here's wishing you all a wonderful weekend.

I have something very nice planned. . .

. . . but before that, the gentleman is taking me out to dinner.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

in the wild

While we were in Maine my parents held a lobster bake so that the gentleman and I could celebrate our marriage with family and friends in true New England style. We were tasked with gathering wild flowers for the centerpieces (such an awful job, right?), and so trotted off with baskets in hand. Besides masses of the ubiquitous Queen Anne's Lace, we managed to scrounge up some pink clover, yarrow, mallow, early golden rod, and wild sweet peas (my very favorite discovery) !! Along the way we snacked on wild blueberries as the bugs snacked on us.

Ahhhh, fleurs. . . .

Happy tuesday all!

Monday, August 8, 2011

fields of yellow

Buttercups. The next best thing to Queen Anne's Lace.

I want you to know that I ran gleefully into this field to get these shots, only to emerge covered with slugs. Ahhh, what price beauty? Bugs and slugs. And an army of Japanese beetles. I'm always amazed at the wild life that crawls out of an armful of wildflowers.

Anyway, just a bit of yellow for now.

Until tomorrow. . . enjoy.

Friday, August 5, 2011

an evening in maine

Drinking wine and watching the sun set through the Queen Anne's Lace. That's about as close to perfection as one gets.

Oh, my gosh:

* these beautiful flowers
* this photograph
* and this one
* Kate in Tennessee
* and some risotto (the gentleman is cooking dinner!)

Cheers all.

Have a good weekend.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

a breath of fresh air

Hello all! We are just back from Maine, happy from our time in the salt air and sunshine (and not at all ready for the furnace-blast of hot air that greeted us on our return!).

A random list of things today:

* The Invention of the Past (already on my wish list)
* a house in Belgium (oh, the gardens!)
* and a bit of architectural archaeology

Lots more to come from Maine in the next few days.

Hope you are all well. . . cheers!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

the peach

When peach season arrives I pretty much drop all other fruits. I will not buy a peach at any other time of the year. They have to be local. So when they're in season, I go crazy. I find a way to sneak peaches into everything. Add them into salads. Or by themselves with a little balsamic vinegar, some olive oil, sea salt, pepper, some basil, and a sprinkle of feta ~ divine. Grilled peaches and shrimp with curry and honey. Peach crisp, peach pie, peach tarts. . . and omg, peaches with blue cheese.

Ahhh. . . the peach:

* Georgia peaches
* peach gnocchi

Yum! I'm off to Maine tomorrow. . . where I hear blueberries are in season (okay, so I am fickle).


Friday, July 22, 2011

on a hot day

Some greens from the vegetable garden at Longwood. If I had a proper garden, it would look just like this! Some day perhaps.

At the moment I am wilting in the 103-degree heat. And tomorrow the same.

Stay cool friends.

Have a good weekend!