March 31, 2014

Heading to NYC

I am heading up to NYC for the book launch party for Julia Reed’s book about the amazing Furlow Gatewood.

The incomparable Bunny Williams and John Rosselli are hosting the party at Rosselli Antiques. I’ve been to a few other parties there and although it’s usually a mad crush of people, it’s always fun. I am looking forward to meeting up with friends, Reggie and Boy, whom I haven’t seen since last fall.

I am also meeting up with friends for lunch, and then plan to spend some time at the D&D Building,image checking out what’s new there, before I head down to High Point for the Spring Furniture Market at the end of the week.

Between now and then, I have a big project to finish at work, and then a “black tie with medals” dinner on Friday night. Considering that it snowed here on Sunday, and the weather looks downright spring-like in North Carolina, I’ve also got to rustle up some warm-weather clothes to freshen up and pack before leaving at the crack of dawn on Saturday. Whew!

It’s going to be a long day, so probably no post Tuesday night/Wednesday,. but look for a NYC wrap-up on Thursday

March 30, 2014

I Love These Candles!

It is hard to believe, but it snowed today again. It started as sleet and then turned to a snowy rain. It’s getting a bit disheartening and I am tempted to think that spring will never arrive.

At Christmas, I was given a Feu de Bois Candle by Diptyque Paris that smelled like a crackling wood fire in an old library, a scent that evoked many childhood memories. It was perfect for the winter months, but now that it’s almost April, I am ready for some warmer weather and a garden of flowers!

I was at Halcyon House Antiques on Saturday, and they had the most glorious display of candles, behind which was a miserable afternoon with rain coming down sideways!

As I took a minute to test each of the different scents from the Seda France candles, I was transported to a warm sunny afternoon in a garden that was fully in bloom and not the chucking down rain!

The one I eventually selected, the Seda France Pagoda Candle - French Tulip is the most realistic scent that I’ve ever had. My house smells like a garden! I am not big on artificial scents, and have found that some of the French-made candles have the most natural scents. seda france candleThe packaging is great and the glass candle-holder has a toile print etched into it. I especially liked how Halcyon House Antiques paired these candles with their great pagoda papers and note-books.

I forgot to pick up some of the amazing post-it notes that also had the pagodas on them. Seriously, if I got these, there were be notes stuck on everything!

Do you have a favourite candle? Please share, as I am always looking for new ones!

March 28, 2014

Faux Wallpaper

I am still trying to figure out what to do with my downstairs bathroom, which is right off the mudroom. It gets the most use, and I’ve tried a couple of things, and think that I will end up wallpapering it. I was looking at some wallpapers from the UK, which seems to have a much broader range than in the US, and noticed a trend: Faux wallpapers.

Like this:

Tube station/subway tile paperimage

Scrapwood paperimage

Wrought Iron paperimage

“American” Stones paperimage

Porcelain plates paperimage

Brooklyn tin wallpaperimage

Picture Gallery paperimage

London Map paper, but it only comes in two sections, so you’d have to keep repeating. ugh.imageimage

Penguin Book Library paperimage

What do you think of this trend? Good or bad?

March 26, 2014

Yabba Dabba Do?

Or Yabba Dabba Don’t? My friend Tony sent me the listing for this house in Malibu which is on the market for $2.9 million. It’s certainly one-of-a-kind!image

But it reminds me a little too much of the Flintstone’s house in Bedrock.image

It’s a one-bedroom, imagetwo bathroom house overlooking the Pacific Ocean. image

The furniture is designed to reflect the style of the architecture.image

But the views over the ocean are spectacular!image

The expanses of glass walls and the organically-shaped windows take advantage of the views surrounding the house.imageimage

The property is 22 acres and backs up to a nature preserve.image

So, do you think this house is a yabba dabba do or a yabba dabba don’t? And could you live in a house like this?

March 25, 2014

Pritzker Prize for Architecture

As you may know, I am president of the Board of the Baltimore Architecture Foundation and I also sit on the Board of the Baltimore Chapter of the AIA. I’ve always been interested in architecture and follow it closely.

So I was interested to learn that the profession’s most prestigious prize, The Pritzker was just awarded to Japanese architect, Shigeru Ban. He’s not a big “starchitect” like Frank Gehry, but someone who works with people in a time of need and who works with easily and locally accessible materials.

In New Zealand, he built a cathedral out of cardboard tubes to replace the one which had been badly damaged in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.image

He devised the Paper Partition System to give families some privacy when they’re living in shelters, such as this one after the 2011 Japanese earthquake. image

He also created homes out of shipping containers after the Japanese tsunami.image

These paper-log houses were built after the Kobe earthquake.image

Ban plays with materials in unusual ways. In the 1995 Curtain Wall House, he uses double height curtains to conceal and reveal.image

It is so refreshing to see someone who uses architecture for the good others, and not for some crazy vanity project, win an award like the Pritzker Prize. image

Now, they just need to award it to some women architects!

March 24, 2014

The Vogue Cover, Reimagined

A lot of people are up in arms about the April Vogue cover featuring two people who have less than stellar characters and morals, and who, strictly speaking, are not fashion or design people.

In protest, many people have re-imagined the cover. Here are some fun ones.image








Have you seen any good ones?

March 23, 2014

Weekend Update and More Booze!

A dear friend celebrated her birthday this weekend, so her son decided to have a birthday dinner for her. To take some of the burden off of him, we all pitched in to make something. I volunteered to make the cake for the dinner party and I will give you a little taste of it before I tell you about the rest of the dinner.

We started the party with drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Naturally, the drinks were grapefruit based! This is called a “Blushing Kiss”, but we thought that was a little twee, so we didn’t call it anything. It’s basically good gin, St. Germaine and grapefruit juice. Pour over ice in a shaker and serve.If you’re wondering why I’ve been a bit grapefruit crazy this winter, aside from the fact that I love them, I bought a case from a colleague’s child who was selling them as a fundraiser.

Our friend John brought sushi-grade tuna and avocado, over a bed of seaweed salad. It was phenomenal!The wasabi did wonders for my stuffy head!

The main course was paparadelle with a lemon cream sauce and peas, plus a gorgeous salad.

The main course also included a beautiful grilled tenderloin.tenderloin

Much of the afternoon was taken up with making the cake. The cake was a Smith Island Cake, the official cake of Maryland. It’s basically a ten-layer cake with chocolate icing. The process is a bit daunting, as you cook each layer individually.

I decided it was easier to use disposable pans than to cool, wash, dry and then oil and flour each pan as it came out of the oven. And the pans were on special at the store!You add about three-quarters of a cup of batter to each pan and then cook them for about 15 minutes. You must watch them like a HAWK or they burn quickly! Trust me on this one!

After they’re cool, you stack them, icing each layer. In the original recipe, they use a cooked icing, which they put on the cakes while the icing is still hot, which makes it drip off the sides. Click here to see what happens when you do that. I ran out of icing about three-quarters through icing it, but you can see how the layers stack up. I like this method, because if people don’t know it’s a Smith Island Cake, when you slice it and see all 10 layers, it’s a surprise.Because I had extra icing, I badly piped a message on the cake, using a baggie, since I didn’t have “professional” cake decorating gear with me!

Loads of candles on a towering cake made for a scary walk between the kitchen and the dining room!

Grandmother asking grandson to help blow the candles!

And voila!

I finally decanted the grapefruit vodka this weekend, thanks to pal Julie, who found me a great Bormioli Square Swing Bottle. I designed a label using some on-line graphics and a nice font and printed it on some clear label paper.

We decanted the vodka into the new bottles and it looked great. Then we made some limoncello from the last of the 50+ lemons from Chad and David’s lemon tree!