May 29, 2014

An Evening of Traditional Beverages: Bourbon!

I attended An Evening of Traditional Beverages, an annual event at Homewood House, one of the gorgeous house museums here in Baltimore. This year’s party, which was a complete sell-out, featured BOURBON!

The event featured a lecture by Brooklyn-based writer Dane Huckelbridge, author of the new book Bourbon: A History of the American Spirit, who gave an entertaining history of the popular spirit, and shared a few stories of the pioneers who discovered the golden nectar, bottled it and passed it around for all to enjoy.


In addition, there were samples of more than a dozen different bourbons, from Woodford Reserve to Reservoir, bourbon (9)from Makers Mark to Smooth Ambler. bourbon (14)Each person could get small “shots” of any or all of the bourbons, and with this rogue’s gallery of friends pouring, how could I say no!bourbon (11)

In addition, there was a great spread of farm-to-table locavore food by the newest restaurant the area, Parts & Labour, which is a restaurant, butcher shop and bar. They provided amazing charcuterie platters. bourbon (7)bourbon (13)

And they had DEVILED EGGS!!!bourbon (12)

The money raised this evening goes to support the renovation, restoration and upkeep of the gorgeous Homewood House.

Lots of fun and a great cause!

May 28, 2014

Hidden Interiors

There’s a program in cities around the world called “Open Doors”, in which buildings that are not usually open to the general public open their doors on a certain weekend. It’s always fascinating to see the interior of a building you’ve driven by for years and to see if the reality matches the imagination. As President of the Baltimore Architecture Foundation, I’ve been lucky to see some of Baltimore’s most interesting buildings.

When I lived in the UK, London had a Open Doors program, and as I was researching Open Doors for Baltimore, I came across an article which showed some of the hidden interiors in London.

Finsbury Town Hall, Islingtonimage

Staircase to the library at St. Paul’s Cathedralimage

The Library at St. Paul’s, which contains 16,000 books on theologyimage

Old Bailey, the central courthouse in Londonimage

The operating theatre at St. Thomas’ Church/Hospital. image

The Drapers Hall, often a stand-in for Buckingham Palace in moviesimage

Temple Place, Victoria Embankment, home of Viscount Astorimage

Does your city do an Open Doors program? If so, I highly recommend attending it.

May 27, 2014

Chelsea Flower Show

Each year, around this time, the Royal Horticultural Society presents the Chelsea Flower Show. The gardens are designed by the top garden designers in the UK, as well as up-and-coming designers. Each garden is sponsored by a corporation or a charity, and each one is spectacular in its own way.image

The gardens are designed to be in place for a week, and the gardeners must ensure that every single flower is at the peak of its life during the show. It’s nerve-wracking to think about it! image

In addition to the fully-formed gardens, there are the specimen plants, best-in-show, as it is. Every part of them has to be flawless. Not a scratch, not a nick or a spot. image

And they have to be in full bloom during the show, so that they can be judged.image

Many of the nurseries and plants-men show off their newest cultivars and hybrids.image

The Show, which is usually opened by the Queen, is attended by thousands, and pre-ordered tickets are a requirement, as the Show is routinely sold out. I was lucky enough to attend when my housemate’s parents couldn’t use their tickets and it was just spectacular. Like walking through a rainbow.image

Chelsea is huge in the UK, where it is covered live on TV, and where the awards can make or break a garden designer.

The Chelsea Flower Show benefits the Chelsea pensioners, like this fellow a retired military man who lives at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which is basically an old-age home. Residents are required to wear their distinctive scarlet coats, and may wear their military medals, when they are off-grounds.

The pensioners and the flower show are part of makes England special.

May 26, 2014

Long Weekend

There’s nothing like a three-day weekend to kick off the summer. Here in Baltimore, the weather was perfect! Sunny, 70’s and just enough breeze to make it fresh. I was lucky enough to kick off the weekend in the best possible way: hitting a great yard sale.

When I saw the advertisement on Craigslist, I knew that it was going to be great, and best of all, it started on Friday, and I had a half day at work. So I mapped the route, and headed over there. As soon as I walked down the driveway, I was in heaven!P&B1

P&B4 P&B5

As I asked the man hosting the sale what the price of a piece was, he turned around and we both burst out laughing! His partner is someone I’ve known for years, and I see them both at auctions! We’ve both developed sharp elbows to move the other bidders out of the way. And he’s got great taste!

I used remarkable restraint and only bought a few things. P&B2P&B3

I loved the vaguely Chinoiserie look of the candlesticks, and there were two of them, but all of the original silver-plating was worn off, and I wasn’t too wild about the shabby chic look of them. So out came my trusty can of Rust-Oleum Professional High Performance Gloss Black Enamel Spray Paint, except I am pretty sure that I didn’t pay this much for it!!! I hope that’s a typo!


A few coats of paint and a few hours later, the candelabras turned out wonderfully! There are four arms, and one center candleholder, but there were finials in the center, which are removable. I might keep them, or they might end up on my Etsy shop. candle

Speaking of which, I actually added some items to it over the weekend.

This is the weekend of the peonies, which, like everything else, are very late this year. My neighbour has a number of plants, but she was cutting them to take to the graveyard for Memorial Day, so I didn’t ask for any, and instead went to Whole Foods and spent way too much on two bunches.peonies

I put them in my fox hunter vase I got at the last big yard sale, and just love seeing them on the cocktail table. Funnily, this is the mark on the base of it. And now it’s the wallpaper on my phone!pitcher

One of the flowers clashed with the others, so I stuck that in a little silver pitcher. peonies2

I am hoping that the weather stays cool for another few days so the peonies stick around.

How was your weekend?

May 25, 2014

Memorial Day

Today’s holiday in the US isn’t about the sales, the picnics or the ball games, it’s about remembering those who have given their lives for our country. Memorial-DayI lived in Annapolis, home of the US Naval Academy, for several years, and attending chapel and listening to the words of the Navy Hymn, Eternal Father, Strong to Save, always gave me a good idea of all that our military has sacrificed for us.

Memorial Day 2014

May 24, 2014

High Point Wrap Up: Schillig & HGTV

Before we get too far away from High Point, I want to do a final post for both of my sponsors: Schillig and HGVT Home.

Schillig, as you may remember, features beautiful Euro-style leather furniture. It’s just beautifully constructed, and the colours of the leather are really magnificent.

Schillig’s furniture is very modern, but in a classical sense. The lines are sinuous and elegant. They flow beautifully and make a statement in a room.

Even the supporting structure has been given a lot of thought and its lines are very simple. Regardless of that, they make a point and convey the fact that this is, indeed, a modern piece of furniture.

This seat is almost like a Breuer chair and the steel creates a little bit of a rocking motion, which would be perfect on a lounge this this one. This piece, in a beautiful persimmon leather, also comes in several configurations like this chair and ottoman,

and this rocker. I have to admit that I was a little reluctant to try these, because I was convinced that I would end up sound asleep in one of them, because they looked soooo comfortable. I met with Schillig right after my little incident, and I could just imaging lying down and falling fast asleep.

One of the other pieces at Schillig that I liked reminded me of something that I love!image

This bed, with its diamond quilted leather, was like a giant version of Chanel’s 2.55 bag!

And to up the glam quotient, there was a gorgeous (faux) fur coverlet on the bed. The whole thing just exuded luxury and comfort. What’s even better about all Schillig’s furniture is that they can be customized in any of the leathers that they stock. And the stitching can be customized, too. Given those parameters, there must be about a million colour combinations! Can you imagine this bed in a fire-engine red or a hot pink?

In addition to the gorgeous leathers, Schillig also has beautiful lush suedes.

There is a line of pieces done in the suede and they’re just as sophisticated as the leathers.

Like the leather chairs, these are all configured as reclining chairs, but with no unsightly handles, but a discreet push button on the side. I can vouch for these chairs – they were super comfortable and just felt fabulous!

My sincere thanks to Schillig for sponsoring me for the Spring Market and for being so kind to me!

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My other sponsor for High Point was HGTV Home and their new line of home furnishings, paints and wallpapers. HGTV is one of the most popular channels on television and with the wide range of home make-over shows they broadcast, it makes sense for them to create a products for the home, both for those who like to D-I-Y or those who use the services of a decorator. HGTV Basset (13)

HGTV has partnered with Basset Furniture to create a line of furnishings which reflect the channel’s design aesthetic. After an afternoon lecture with HGTV personality Genevieve Gorder, who talked about renovating her own home in New York City, I had a chance to wander around the Basset showrooms and see all of HGTV Homes’ new furniture lines.

HGTV Home currently has seven lines available. imageimage

For those not confident in their decorating abilities, the collections have been put together to help coordinate a look. From paints, flooring, lighting to accessories, it’s all there for someone to choose. And each collection has bedroom, dining room and living space segments. HGTV has done the work, so that you don’t have to.

Pieces from the collections work together through the different lines. This tufted-back sofa could easily be accesorized with pillows from any of the collections, and with fabrics and trims from Joann Fabric and Craft Stores, and paints by Sherwin-Williams, everything coordinates and there’s no second guessing whether the colours will clash or match. HGTV Basset (1)

Add in floors by Shaw, including carpets, rugs and hardwood, then you’re assembling a completed room. HGTV Home also has a range of lighting options, from chandeliers to table lamps, from outdoor solar lighting to floor lamps. HGTV Basset (4)

As you can see, the same piece, with two different colour stories, can take on a completely new look. This slatted wood headboard is shown here with the blue colourway with 60’s inspired prints. HGTV Basset (5)

In this image, the shades are more neutral, except for the pop of brights, giving the bed an entirely different feel. HGTV Basset (6)

Here’s a sofa similar to the first one, but with a different upholstery fabric – this time a chunky blue linen weave. The space’s silver accessories cool the room, and add a level of sophistication to it. HGTV Basset (8)

These Jessie chairs would be a great addition to almost any room. They’re just the right scale, and can be customized in any of the fabrics in the HGTV Home line. From an extra chair in the bedroom, to side chairs in the living room or the entry hall, these chairs could go anywhere.HGTV Basset (9)

Here’s another version of it from the HGTV Home website. You can see how versatile a chair like this would be. image

My thanks to HGTV Home for sponsoring me at High Point.


This post has been sponsored by Schillig and HGTV Home who were my sponsors at High Point Furniture Market. All opinions are my own.