April 27, 2017

"What Fresh Hell Is This?"

The title is one of my favourite quotes from the late, great writer and poet, Dorothy Parker. As part of my #ThisIsBaltimore2017 quest, I decided to go find her grave. And yes, she is interred here in Baltimore!

In her will, she specified that her ashes, and her estate be given to Martin Luther Kings, and if he was deceased, to the NAACP, which is headquartered here in Baltimore. Lillian Hellman was the executor of her estate, and thought that Dorothy should have left her literary rights to her, and so after Parker's death, she really held up publishing permissions. 

And the ashes remained in a drawer of a filing cabinet for 15 years after Parker's death. A small site in the back of the HQ building was cleared and a circle of bricks and stones was laid, in homage to the famed Algonquin Roundtable. 

I knew some of this, so decided to go find the grave. I was very disappointed to find it in the back of the building, with broken cement benches scattered around, a tipped over plant laying on top of the plaque and the whole site in general disrepair. If I had a broom with me, I would have cleaned it up a bit, but alas...

The NAACP is her literary agent, and I am sure they get a significant sum from acting as such. The least they could do is care for Dorothy Parker's final resting place. 

April 18, 2017

Spring in the City

So sorry for the lack of recent posts. I am still having problems with the platform I use to post, and I absolutely hate posting through the blogger platform because it doesn't format correctly! Ugh.

Anyway... spring has finally arrived in Baltimore, better late than never. And it's simply glorious here. It's hard to see, but the hedge in front of the carriage house is all lilacs! 
Figue and I took a walk with our friends MacKenzie and Andrea through the gorgeous Sherwood Gardens, one of Baltimore's most beautiful public spaces. Andrea tried to bribe Figue to stop barking with a treat...

The tulips at Sherwood Gardens are at their peak this week, aided by 80* temperatures on Easter. 

And the gardens are surrounded by some of the most beautiful and elegant houses in Baltimore, so a walk through the area yields some great architectural treats.

In addition to seeing flowers in public spaces, I've been lucky enough to get some spring flowers for my house. My neighbours have two camellias and told me to help myself to some of them. I was sure I was being greedy taking four of them, but they assured me I wasn't!

And then the gal who helps me with my sewing told me to cut some of the lilacs in her front yard. So I did! These are the deepest purple, rather than the paler purple that you see more often. 

Last week, fellow blogger, The Devoted Classicist was in Baltimore to give a lecture at the esteemed Evergreen House. Last month's lecture took place a day after a snowstorm, but spring is in full effect now. 

One of the things I adore about this time of year is the soft light, and the soft evening air. I took this just before the lecture, and think this is emblematic of a spring evening in Baltimore. 

I am so glad spring is here and hope that it doesn't get too hot too quickly!

April 3, 2017

Off to the Races

Ever since I was a child, I've been attending the steeplechase horse races just north of Baltimore. They take place in the spring and fall, and this past weekend was the beginning of the 2017 series of spring races. I was lucky enough to be given a pass for the races, and especially lucky, since it was on Founders Hill, with a great view of the finish line. 

Although the day was overcast, and we'd had more than an inch of rain the day before, the field was perfect for the horses - very soft, with a lot of fresh grass. 

A few local friends, as well as friends visiting from Atlanta, joined me for the races, and soon more friends found us, and we joined forces and food to have a great afternoon.

First up are the pony races with the kids on board. They are lead around the course, complete with jumps, by a field master, and then at the last straight-away to the finish line, they're cut loose to go as fast as they can. It's such fun to see the traditions continue with the younger generations.
You can just glimpse me and my handsome date, just between the two jockeys, who are about 14 years old!

Because it wasn't sunny and warm, only the most die-hard race fans came out to watch, and almost everyone was wearing a version of the same thing: corduroys, sweaters, down or wool vests, barn coats or Barbour jackets and a hat!

We packed a picnic of fried chicken, crudite and some other things, but decided not to day drink as we were headed to a cocktail party after the races. But our friends brought some booze, so we indulged.

The spring card of races continues for the next four Saturdays, and tickets, which are required, can be purchased through the Maryland Steeplechase Association

My great thanks to Mike Wharton who did an exemplary job organizing the races for the Green Spring Point-to-Point, and for including me in the day!

March 29, 2017

This is Baltimore: Our Brigadoon

Dickeyville, a small neighbourhood in Baltimore, fits the dictionary definition of Brigadoon perfectly: a place that is idyllic, unaffected by time, or remote from reality. Dickeyville is off the beaten path, down a turn from a busy road, nestled in a small river valley, and completely, utterly charming!

As part of my #thisisbaltimore2017 exploration of the city, I took an afternoon to search out the village of Dickeyville, which is on the western edge of Baltimore City. I had planned to walk through the village, but it was misting heavily , so I just drove around, and will visit later for a walk-about. But I fell in love with this place and wanted to share it with you.

I’ve found that Sundays are a good day to go exploring, as commercial sites aren’t well-populated, and I can wander pretty freely. As I headed over from my first stop, an old mansion on some hospital grounds, where a loggia leads from the mansion to the actual hospital,

I spotted this perched on the hill above the valley.

Naturally, I had to follow the road and find out what it was. I think I could live there!

I finally wended my way down to the village and just fell in love. I have actually been to a few weddings in this church, but never went into the village to explore… mainly because every wedding I went to there, I got lost.

Let’s wander around.

Family friends owned this house when I was a child. It’s a converted church, with a ballroom on the top floor.
Many of the homes are constructed of local stone, and were built for utilitarian purposes, this one a small barn.
This was the Mechanics Hall and later a theatre. It still has the original stage and lights.
This is the last house in the village and was built for the mill supervisor.
You have to cross a scary bridge to get to the mills.
The mill buildings are still in use for other purposes. I LOVE the trimwork on this!

(Shhhh… I was totally trespassing for this shot!)

Here’s the Gwynns Falls which originally powered the mills.
This mill building was converted to an artist’s studio in the 1930’s, and has been occupied by artists ever since.
This was built as the first International Order of Odd Fellows hall, and now houses an art gallery.
This house is currently on the market for less than $300k.
I love the cheery yellow door on this one and I love that the village has these wonderful white picket fences throughout.

I know I’ve already shown this image, but seriously, isn’t that entrance just the most amazing thing!

There’s a annual garden tour of Dickeyville in May, and you can find more information about the village here. I hope that you enjoyed discovering Dickeyville, just as I did!

PS.. I am having issues with my blog platform, so please excuse the wonky formatting. Ugh!

March 23, 2017


As you might know, I designed a line of tea towels (you can find them on my Etsy page), last fall. It was a lot of fun thinking about the designs, working them out and then selling them… A lot of them!

A few months ago, I was poking around an antiques store with a friend and spotted a box of old engravings, some hand-coloured, and some not. Probably late 1800’s or early 1900’s. I love looking at these old prints and thinking about what I can do with them. I leafed through the pages until I found this adorable little girl. OberonI knew she would become something fun! She’s a tiny little thing, about 3x4 inches. But she needed a little work before she achieved greatness.

I scanned her in at high resolution, so that I could play with the dimensions and make her bigger without losing a lot of detail. I added an old print of a globe that she could stand on instead of just a simple ball, and photoshopped it so that it would look like she was standing on top of the world. Vintage-Globe

But the print still needed something. I played around with some different sayings in different fonts, but nothing struck me. I had one towel made up, but it wasn’t just quite right. Then I was listening to the news, and heard Senator Mitch McConnell chastising Senator Elizabeth Warren, and in recounting it, he said, “Nevertheless, she persisted.” I knew that’s what I needed to add to the design to make it work.

I amped up the colour a little, cleaned up a few spots on the background, added a border, and came up with this:nevertheless SMALL

Funnily, when it’s printed out on cotton/linen, the background looks like an old parchment-coloured linen fabric, complete with the small imperfections. It’s really amazing what we can do with digital printing!

The tea-towels are 50/50 cotton/linen and are printed with water-based, non-toxic inks. They are fully washable and can be thrown in the dryer, but I like to hang them on the clothesline. The towels measure about 18x24 inches. A few people I know are buying them to frame for their daughters and grand-daughters. Over this past weekend, I received more than 25 orders for this tea towel, and if you’d like to order one, click here.

March 21, 2017

Domes and Cloches

I was at the beach this weekend – brutally windy with some rain – and so we went shopping. I found something that I seem to have started collecting. Yes, I do collect some things, I don’t just sell everything. I found a great glass dome, the third one I’ve found in a few weeks, remarkably!image

The two glass domes on the left were the start of the collection. The smaller one is about four inches and the larger, about seven inches.

The one on the right, with the lights in it, is actually a cloche. These are little bee or fairy lights, and are electrified, not battery-operated like so many other sets. They throw off an amazing amount of light!

My friend who wrote the late, lamented blog, House of Beauty and Culture, and who bought and sold Victorian taxidermy, gave me this explanation: Domes are of a higher quality glass and were used to display and protect. Cloches were utilitarian and much thicker and heavier and usually have a topknot.

The cloche with the lights is a heavier glass, which is engraved with vines, leaves and flowers, and it has a topknot. Although the footed glass plate under it came with the cloche, it probably wasn’t original to it.

About a week or so ago, I was in a thrift shop and spotted a hideous plastic-gold clock inside a tall glass dome. So I chucked the clock into the trash and kept the dome and the wooden base. The new dome is about ten inches. image

Finally, over the weekend, I spotted another glass dome, this one about 14 inches high and much “rounder” at the base than the others! It came with a wood base, and I am actually thinking about painting all of the bases black, just so they are a little more uniform. I didn’t add the base to the top-most dome, as I thought it might be overkill!

I wanted to add something inside. I had a dead rose in a tiny silver vase, but it was too tall, so I took the rose out, cut off the stem and laid it inside the dome.image

I still have one more dome! It’s wider and taller than any of these, and is in another room with a late 1800’s hallmarked English teapot under it. IMG_0711

Here are some other great-looking domes from my blog:

Creel & Gow in NYCimage

Multiple domes with bee or fairy lights lights. Ditch the antlers though!image

Garden cloche from Trade Secrets a few years ago.image

Cake stand cloche from Halcyon House antiquesimage

Cloches in clear and blue at Ladew Garden Daysimage

At John Derian in NYCimage

Victorian domes at John Derianimage

Some of the Victorian ones skeeve me out a little, imageand others I have seen are so twee as to make you ill, imageso I am trying to find a balance in using mine. Any suggestions?