Knowing how much her daughter loves hats, mom brought over this clipping from the NY times yesterday. The picture doesn't do them justice, so zoom in to see the detail. The plaid hat with the luscious cascade of feathers is Ralph Lauren for a mere $950 (without the feathers a real bargain at $525), but the one I particularly like is the Albertus Swanepoel black fedora with spiral guinea fowl feathers. Only $425 at Barneys.
For some reason, after months of silence, I seem to have things on my mind that I need to blog about again. My work and the self rightous callousness, hypocrisy and betrayal has been so depressing and consuming (those 80 hour weeks) that I haven't given myself time to be me. The new Snow Patrol Album came out and gave me something to listen to on the long drives to central PA. The music is wonderful and their lyrics, as usual, are poetry expressed in words that no contemporary American is literate enough to put together. I especially love the origami stars illustrating the album cover and the pages with the lyrics.
They make me want to spend the next month making snowflakes for my whole Christmas Tree. It would certainly give me something lovely and creative to do in my hotel room.
It snowed all week in Berwick and followed me down through Reading last night. Driving in snow though the countryside when it is very dark is like driving into a starfield but it is only interesting and novel for about 10 minutes. It doesn't stick to the windscreen if you keep moving - just a galaxy of stars flying into your face. After a while you have to fight against getting hypnotized, which is a nerve-wracking way to spend three hours in a car. Have to admit it is a lot better than the 5 hours I spent driving home in the fog last week, only able to see the white line on the side of the road for hours - no idea where I was. Found my way to the house by following the white mailboxes - couldn't even see the roadbed.
Snow again this morning. Very unusual to have a pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm here and it is very pretty and I am happy to be looking at it from my cozy home office.
Making my chocolate mocha cupcakes tonight for the big Harold Naomi birthday party tomorrow. First time the whole family (except ABJ) has been together for a long time.
I found one again.... a wonderful purple suede Kenneth Cole handbag. Only problem is that the fashion authorities seem to have decided that no one who can't afford to pay over $300 should have a perfectly sized handbag in this glorious color. Also found this great assortment in Marie Claire. Love the knit dress - very Scandinavian - and the cuffs and the bag and the sweater vest which looks like something I could knit out of all the leftover yarn I have.... If I had the time. The skirt is much too 60's for me - looks like someone found all the 40 year old dashikis and figured that the current generation would never know the difference. Always wondered what happened to all of these.
Adam, Margot and the kids came over for the first time in several months and we celebrated Margot's 40th birthday. I made my famous raspberry peach pie which everyone enjoyed and we sat out on the deck and enjoyed the cool breezy sunny day. Naomi and Reed's immediate reaction to the pie was that they didn't want any but they quickly changed their minds as you can see below.
Wegave Margot a lovely brown, grey and beige pearl necklace that she and Naomi are admiring here. Naomi had just lost a front tooth and was showing her gap off to everyone. Like her aunt, she is getting some of her teeth in right in front of her baby teeth, so getting them out is painful.
Adam and Naomi are getting ready to go in this picture. Of course Dad gave Adam a bottle of wine and Naomi is holding a huge bag of ribbon remnants that I got at the ribbon outlet for $5 and her precious lamb puppet that I got her at the Panto two years ago. She announced that she wouldn't mind living here for a while.
Yesterday morning I was at Wills Eye Hospital with a very nice Neurological Opthalmologist who was trying to determine why I was having intermittent blindness in my right eye. He concluded that it was a rare case of my IOP – intraocular eye pressure – spiking which was cutting off the blood flow to my optic nerve. It is under control with new eye drops right now but there is no guarantee it won’t happen again and the next time it could be permanent. He did teach me a method of ocular massage that I can use to reduce my eye pressure if it ever happens again, which was worth the cost of the whole visit. After I left Wills, I walked the 10 blocks up Walnut Street to my office with a huge headache, blinded by the brightness of the sun hitting my dilated pupils and feeling emotionally bruised by the whole experience. After walking 8 blocks, I staggered into Cole Haan, sweaty (it was about 95 outside) and semi-blind and allowed myself to be persuaded to purchase a lovely grey leather handbag that I never would have bought if I was in my right mind. I won’t mention the price (after the 20% discount), but it is very nice so I will keep it.
Here it is, fashionably paired with my new grey skinny leg J Crew corduroy jeans, my new purple longsleeved T, my three year-old grey herringbone vest and my 20 year old fedora. It all makes me feel a bit better, but I am still sad.
I have had a lot of fresh fruit staring at me this weekend- still do. The raspberries are coming in like crazy and the Finnens left us a bushel of peaches. Plus the seedless concord grapes are perfection. Made peach- raspberry jam last night.
Yesterday my husband and I went to the Long's Park Craft Fair, west of Lancaster. This is a very high quality fair, on a par with the Philadelphia Museum Craft Fair, but they allow paintings. Unfortunately, the exhibitors were down by about 50% from last year. Don't know why - economy or just that the Lancaster area doesn't attract the clientele they are aiming for. After snapping a couple of pictures, I found that you aren't allowed to take photos, so this is one of the few I got....And my husband bought me a lovely pair of enameled earrings that I was admiring as a suprize present!
I can't help it. I live in a hotel and eat out of the supermarket so when I come home I am totally preoccupied with the lovely fresh veges growing in my garden. One of my favorite meals is a tomato sandwich made with a juicy beefsteak tomatoe and a thick slice of vidalia onion. My grandfather taught me about tomatoes. He and my grandmother moved frequently because he was congenitally unable to live anywhere for more than two years (they lived in at least 10 different towns in the Philadelphia area, some of them twice, not to mention Pawnee City, Nebraska, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, New York City, The Hague, Netherlands, Portugal, Chicago, Ithaca, New York, Kansas, Lambertville, New Jersey, Abiquiu, New Mexico and many others I am sure I don't know about), but whenever he could, he always had a lovely vegetable garden which featured Big Boy tomatoes. When we visited in the summer, there was always a platter of freshly sliced tomatoes on the table at dinnertime.
In any case, the best way to make a tomato sandwich is to toast two slices of white bread (this keeps the bread from getting soggy). Slather them with Hellman's mayonnaise (the real stuff - no low fat imitations) and add one thick slice of tomato and one thick slice of vidalia onion. Cut the sandwich in half and enjoy! What you can't see in the picture below is that I couldn't control myself and I took a bit out of the corner of bottom half of the sandwich. mmmmmm.
This is a picture of the harvest from my August garden. I try to plant only the vegetables and fruit that are beautiful, unusual and delicious. Seedless concord grapes, baby red and yellow tomatoes, Japanese eggplant, red raspberries, garlic chive flowers, Italian basil, roma plum tomatoes, golden tomatoes, varigated eggplant, and green and gold peppers. Of course, produce that is eaten within minutes of being picked tastes completely different from any of the sadly aging items in the supermarket. To me, they provide as much visual satisfaction as any of the flowers in my border.
Saturday I treated myself to outlet shopping in Lancaster. My focus was on grays and purples. Like this Eggplant Sweater jacket that I found at Banana Republic for $39. And a classic pale gray cardigan at Ann Taylor for $35 and a matching gray sleeveless turtleneck for $29. And these cute open toed taupe shoes with beige suede bows that aren't really gray or purple. Not quite a bargain at $60 but I couldn't resist them.
I did heroically resist a lovely eggplant unfitted knee length wool coat at J Crew that was marked down from $500 to $189. Missed my shopping companion. She would have probably talked me into buying it.
In my last blog, I mentioned my collection of Liberty prints. Tonight I laid them out on my sewing table to photograph them and the table wasn't big enough. It has been several years since I looked at them all together and I forgot how many I had and how beautiful they are. I am sure my daughter remembers many of these because we used to pick them out the remnant basket together. Every time we went into London, we always stopped at Liberty to see what goodies were hiding in the little baskets in the fabric department.
I made many lovely dresses for my daughter, and some of their remnants are among the ones in my picture. I particularly like to collect variations on a particular print and my favorite is the Strawberry Thief, though I have several others. Our guest bedroom has Strawberry Thief curtains that I made out of some of the material I bought when we moved back home from Surrey. As I put then back into the closet I counted 48 different prints. If Ashley ever has a daughter, I will make her lovely dresses out of these like I did for her mother.
Ok. I confess. I have been a fabric junkie since I was 12 and my mother took me to the Everfast Mill store where we could get amazing remnants for 10 cents a yard (this was 1960, when gas was 19 cents a gallon, but still a bargain). I used to make most of my clothes and don't sew as much as I used to but I still have hundreds of yards stored away in my craft room and occasionally open the doors of my cupboards and gloat over the goodies. The prize of my collection is a huge variety of Liberty remnants collected over a 20 year period. Most of them are 1/4 yard or less, but I also shipped over 200 metres of curtain fabric back to the US when we moved back in 1998. I probaby have 50 or more different Liberty patterns including some amazing patchwork that I bought in 1997. Sadly, Liberty hardly sells any rems any more and the last time I visited in May of 2008, I couldn't find the little baskets that used to contain the precious delicate floral prints.
Anyway, the Fall fashions have reawakened my lust for lovely luxurious wools, but the suburbs no longer have any fabric stores except for the highly plebian Jo Anne's which seems to specialize 50 varieties of fleece and shiny synthetics suitable only for a working class prom queen. Dredging through my ancient memories to the summer when I was 16 and had apprenticed myself to a talented local designer, I recalled that we used to haunt Fabric Row around 4th Street in Philly. Googled it and it still exists so I have to set myself up for an expedition.
The Fall Fashion Issue just arrive and I have selected some pictures to share with Ashley. This fall I particularly like the tailored tweeds - and the unstructured coats. Fedora's and richplums and purples. The shoes are impossibly scary. After a lot of agressive manipulation for all this scanning, my Harper's now looks a bit lumpy like someone was reading it in a very steamy and humid bathroom.
I got the first one in 1996. It has the William Morris pattern “Strawberry Thief” on it and commemorates his 100th birthday. I think it must have been the first one they made and I found it on one of the sale tables in the basement of one of my favorite places, the Liberty store in London.
I found the 2003 mug in the Liberty post-Christmas sale in January 2004. It certainly hadn’t been a hot commodity and was surrounded by a lot of other 2003 mugs that no one wanted.
Ashley’s friend Steven gave me the 2007. He had visited our house in the summer of 2006 and heard me talk about how much I loved my two mugs. Apparently the market for Liberty mugs had taken an upturn since 2003 because he searched all over the store for one to no avail when he got back to London . Steven is persistent and he finally asked one of the clerks if they had a 2007 mug, and she told him yes they had them, but they were hidden for customers who collected them. He persuaded her to sell him one and gave it to me the next time I was in London.
The lovely pale robin’s egg color on these mugs is one I love almost as much as cobalt blue. It is the blue-green that appears in many of Karl Larson’s paintings of the interior of his house. To my delight, Chloe Alberry just started making lovely stone knobs in this color. They look like little irregular eggs and have a warm smooth texture that I can imagine holding in my hand every time I open a drawer or cabinet. I bought eight of them in May and look at them often. One day I will decide where I want to put them, but for now I can’t bear to commit them to a permanent location.
When I think of the things (as opposed to people) I love, one of the most enduring is the color blue. The items I tend to buy in blue are long lasting household items, some of which I have had for over 40 years. Maybe it is my Scandinavian blood but it all started with Dansk Blue Mist plates, which I found in the Dansk outlet in Ardmore when I was 18 and packed them away for my future home. They were discontinued a while ago but I continue to replenish my collection at Replacements Unlimited.
I picked up the two wooden handled enameled pots in the picture about 8 years later when I had my own apartment. I ordered the Kitchen Aid Mixer from a catalog before Ashley was born – so that’s over 24 years ago – for my cookie, bread and pasta making in the big kitchen in the Little Washington-Lyndell Road farmhouse. I paid full price because I fell in love with the lovely cobalt blue color. The Kitchen Aid toaster was added to my collection when we bought our current house 9 years ago. It’s not toasting evenly any more but I can’t bring myself to replace it.
I made the chair covers out of a remnant I bought at Laura Ashley before they closed all the stores here and covered two of the chairs from my mother’s old handmade wrought Iron garden set. The garden set itself is probably around the same age as I am since there are pictures of me as a baby crawling over the glass tabletop.
The flower pots are relatively new. One of the original ones was broken by the guy who powerwashed our deck and I spent two years looking for another one that matched. Just found it last Spring!
Last night I arrived home from Central PA around 7 PM and ran out to the garden to grab fresh veges for dinner. Then I pulled a fresh ear of Amish Silver King corn out of the fridge and cooked up a feast. Living on the road I am so fresh vege deprived. My hotel-room diet is getting more and more depressing and I feel very deprived and stuck. Have to find a way out. In any case this is the lovely stuff growing in my garden. Tomatoes very late this year due to damp cool spring and torrid June and July, but the Japanes eggplant, peppers and fresh basil are lovely.