Tuesday, November 25, 2008

thankful 404

The other day I was walking by a large, rather non-descript parking lot, and noticed the soft crunch of pine needles under my feet. Not so unusual really, but living in the city one rarely encounters this phenomenon. Looking down I noticed the most gorgeous pinecones scattered about ~ dusted with white sap and smelling perfectly like pine. I gathered up an armful and headed home. What people thought of this woman walking down the street with an armful of pinecones, I have no idea. (Probably the same thing they think when they see me "pruning" the holly bushes by the bus stop outside of my apartment building.) I still have sap on my jacket, but the smell puts me in mind of where I am going for the holidays.

I am signing off for the week, wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving, and thanking you for all your support and inspiration this year. Eat well, be well, and travel safely. xo.

P.S. I just passed my 400th post (this is no. 404) and I didn't even notice!

Monday, November 24, 2008

sunday in the city

This weekend was a quiet one, comprised of little errands (getting ready for the holidays), tea sipping, and a walk through the farmers' market. The colors at the market were so lovely ~ greens, greys, soft pinks ~ such a change from the oranges, browns and yellows of earlier in the season. (And clearly, my obsession with root vegetables continues!) I picked up leeks and Brussels sprouts, which I drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted together in the same pan. An odd combination, but surprisingly delicious!

Happy monday.

Friday, November 21, 2008

trouvée: on steps of the capitol

Inscribed: "Capitol Va. / Mar. 1934." I love the little figure with her white scarf, dwarfed by the huge columns of the Capitol building in Richmond.

Some friday links:

* Katie Baum's photographs
* Anne Truitt's studio
* Alejandra Laviada's photo sculptures
* and Delta Dawn

Enjoy your weekend...I hope you do something nice.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


It really feels like fall is slipping into winter. Cold, clear skies here in Washington today, and the leaves are all but gone. I find myself nesting ~ running home after work to pour myself a glass of wine and curl up on the sofa with my needlework. It is a treat to savor these few peaceful days before the frenzy of the holidays. Simple things I am enjoying:

* fennel soup and Julie's notebook
* a house in Trinadad
* and anticipating Tess (does anyone know when the DVD will be released in the US?)

What are you enjoying these days? Stay warm. Be well.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

book week: day 5

This summer I had the pleasure of attending the Attingham Summer School program with Emily Eerdmans, whose book Regency Redux was published this month by Rizzoli. A copy landed in my mailbox this weekend ~ and not only is it a luxuriously beautiful publication, but it is wonderfully well written and informative. When Emily agreed to send along an annotated list of her top five design books (all with a decidedly anglophile bent), I was thrilled. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do:

* Authentic Décor: The Domestic Interior 1620-1920 (1984), by Peter Thornton: Bar none, this is the bible of interior decoration and design history: period watercolors, prints, and sketches of European and American interiors are accompanied by an in-depth and highly readable commentary on the evolution of style, decoration, architectural planning, and more.

* At Home with Books: How Book Lovers Live with and Care for Their Libraries (1995), by Estelle Ellis, Caroline Seebohm, and Christopher Simon Sykes: Besides offering advice on how best to clean, light, display, and reach books, this beautifully illustrated book takes you inside the libraries of the great and the good. My favorite photo is of the late 11th duke of Devonshire snoozing on a sofa in the library at Chatsworth with newspapers askew. Also included are Michael Graves, Bill Blass, Paul Getty, and Keith Richards!

* The Decorative Twenties and The Decorative Thirties, by Martin Battersby: Battersby began his career as an assistant to Cecil Beaton, and shared Beaton’s understanding of the confluence of fashion, décor and design. In these two books on the 1920s and 30s, Battersby examines everything from jewelry to interior decoration. Written in 1969 and 1971 respectively, they are among the first books to look at this period and unusually give equal weight to the revival of period styles at this time as to the development of modernism.

* Rooms (2006), with photographs by Derry Moore: The subjects of the Earl of Drogheda’s signature square format photographs are from another world ~ gilded, sumptuous and eccentric. It is what I call the World of Interiors’ decaying elegance with layers of patina and history. The rooms of Duff and Diana Cooper, Madeleine Castaing (with wig strap), and Pauline de Rothschild are some of my favorites. The text (very lively) and the unusual design are by the people behind the iconic (and sadly defunct) Nest. For more on Moore, see here.

* Colefax and Fowler (reprinted 2000), by Chester Jones: Inevitably whenever I’m looking for inspiration for paint colors, curtain ideas, or furniture placement, this is the book I come back to again and again. Honorary mention also goes to Interior Inspirations by Roger Banks-Pye, a C&F designer, and also to The Art of Decoration by Nina Campbell, another C&F alum.

Some of you may recall that Emily also did a wonderful post over on Style Court in September about Regency style in the movies. I am so grateful she was able to enlighten us again in this final installment of book week. Thank you to Emily, KDM (for his wonderful White House list), and the ever-inspirational Inkslinger (for her fiction suggestions). You have all helped make this past week so rich and fascinating. Stay warm this winter and happy reading!

Monday, November 17, 2008

signs of winter

Things were beginning to look very wintery at the farmer's market yesterday: root vegetables, and red berries. And for the first time this season ~ bulbs! I splurged and bought a white amaryllis. Hopefully it will bloom in time for the holidays. My new return address labels arrived on friday, and I pulled out my Christmas cards (in the vain hope that perhaps this year I will get them written in time). And there are lovely goodies over here. Oh, the anticipation!

And speaking of goodies, something wonderful showed up in my in box last night ~ the perfect culmination of book week. I can't wait to share, so stay tuned tomorrow. Happy monday!

Friday, November 14, 2008

trouvée: the races / book week: day 4

I have been saving these two photographs for a special post. The woman I bought them from said they were press images from the races at Longchamp, Paris. She had a whole lot of them, but I had to limit myself to just two. I adore them ~ so stylish and elegant. The long velvet coat...and the hat with the bird wings...wonderful (click to view larger)!

Not the usual links today ~ but my top five favorite recent photo books (some of which I have mentioned before, but are worth mentioning again):

* Miroslav Tichy (2008)
* Disfarmer: The Vintage Prints (2005)
* Foto (2007)
* Now is Then (2007)
* The Art of the American Snapshot (2007)

As always, happy reading...and stay tuned for more bookish goodies next week. Meanwhile, I wish you all a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

book week: day 3

Oh, I am so excited about this post ~ fiction! This year has been so busy, I haven't had much time to read for pleasure (my short list of current reads pictured above), or even to pour through the book reviews. So, I asked Inkslinger at The Overdecorated Bookcase for her top five favorites from the last year or two. I am always in awe of her reading list ~ not only of the new books she discovers, but by how often she picks up old favorites and re-reads them. I think we have similar taste in fiction, including a shared love for A.S. Byatt and a good Mary Stewart mystery (who knew!?) ~ and her favs don't disappoint:

* Coventry (2008) by Helen Humphreys
* The Frozen Thames (2007) by Helen Humphreys
* Conceit (2007) by Mary Novik
* Cloud of Bone (2007) by Bernice Morgan
* The Uncommon Reader (2007) by Alan Bennett

...and a special mention: Silver Salts (2008) by Mark Blagrave (which she just finished!).

I don't know about you, but I am ready to make a cup of tea and curl up with a good book. Cheers, and happy reading.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

book week: day 2

I have spent the last week slowly unpacking the eight boxes of books littering my apartment, and am reveling in having them all accessible again! Hurrah (btw ~ this is a little peek at my new bookcases). It has meant a slow start to book week, but I have lots of goodies lined up for you all, so hang in there. This year, I thought that in addition to highlighting some of my favorites, I would ask a few friends to contribute titles in their respective areas of expertise. First up, my dear friend KDM, researcher for the White House Historical Association (and notorious blog commentor). In honor of the election and the prospect of a new administration, I asked him for his top five favorite White House books...he obliged, and even threw in a few extras (along with some annotations):

The Classics:
* The White House: Its Historic Furnishings and First Families (2000), by Betty Monkman
* Official White House China: 1789 to the Present (1999), by Margaret Klapthor
* Art in the White House: A Nation's Pride (revised edition 2008), by William Kloss
* White House Glassware: Two Centuries of Presidential Entertaining (1989), by Jane Shadel Spillman
* The President’s House (second edition 2008), by William Seale (the “White House bible”)

Fun and Esoteric:
* Designing Camelot: The Kennedy White House Restoration (1997), by James Archer Abbott and Elaine Rice (excellent!)
* Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies (1973), by J.B. West (full of great stories and behind-the-scenes tales…without airing the dirty laundry)
* White House Gardens: A History and Pictorial Record from time of John Adams to Present (1973), by Frederick Kramer and Rachel (Bunny) Mellon (illustrated with excellent botanical watercolors)
* The Story of the White House (1907), by Esther Singleton (two volumes of pioneering scholarship on American decorative arts ~ and delightfully dated!)
* The Letters of Archie Butt (1924), edited by Lawrence F. Abbott (Butt was a White House military aide, 1908-1912, and confirmed bachelor who died on the Titanic)

I have tried to find sources for all of these titles, but as some of them are out of print, you may need to do a little searching of your own. Please feel free to add your favorites in the comments section, and as always, happy reading!

Monday, November 10, 2008

book week: day 1

I know it is book week, but I couldn't resist showing you a couple scenes from my sunday in Virginia. Beautiful clouds racing across an autumnal sky, and lots of wine and merriment. And interestingly there is a tie in to book week, as one of the wineries we visited was hosting a book signing with Marc Leepson, whose book Saving Monticello, has been on my reading list for some time. And now I have a signed copy! Whether you are a history buff or not, Leepson's books really are fascinating reads.

Okay, happy reading...more tomorrow.

Friday, November 7, 2008

trouvée: in the grass

Undated. Uninscribed. And throughly idyllic.

It is going to be a warm, sunny weekend here in Washington, and I am hoping to get out of the city for a bit. Perhaps a picnic and some wine? We'll see. Hope you all have something lovely in store. And next week: book week. I have lots of goodies to share.

Until then, cheers and happy weekend!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

election night

View of the Capitol on election night. In Washington, people danced in the streets. I think that no matter what party you are, the energy is contagious. Some of my favorite images from the day: candy for voters, brooklyn, washington, and the front pages.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

election day

This is how I started my morning...with oatmeal and a line. There was an interesting story about patriotism a couple days ago on CBS Sunday Morning. While not all Americans define it the same way, the one thing we do seem to agree on (almost unanimously) is that voting is patriotic.

Monday, November 3, 2008

sunday color

Has anyone ever cooked with Romanesco cauliflower? A woman at the market who saw me eyeing it quizzically said she tosses in pasta with garlic, chili flakes and olive oil. I decided to forgo the experience (for now), and came home instead with: apple cider, fresh smoked mozzarella, Asian pears, rosemary and butternut squash (the latter two ingredients for this).

Also, watched this great piece on Lyndon Johnson while I painted and cleaned the apartment. So fascinating, and a nice break from current politics.

Hope you all had a happy weekend.