July 31, 2013

Classic Design Books

I was looking at Mitchell Owens’ design blog for AD Magazine and saw that he’d written a piece on Six Essential Design Books. So many books don’t stand the test of time, but the six Mitch has chosen do.

The best part was that I have four of the six books he mentioned. Herewith:

David Hicks’ Living With Designimage

Mark Hampton on Decoratingimage

Elsie deWolfe’s The House in Good Taste (I have an early version of this book)image

Billy Baldwin Decorates. (And Billy Baldwin Remembers)image

These are the two that I don’t have… yet!

Derek Patmore’s Decoration for the Small Home (It would make sense for me to have this one!)image

Basil Ionides’ Colour and Interior Decorationimage

Do you have any of these books? Do you have any to recommend?

Cursive, A Dying Art?

I have been hearing that schools are no longer teaching cursive or script or joined-up writing, and I think it’s a shame. When you think about beautiful handwriting, you usually don’t think about someone’s printing skill, you think of their script, flowing and elegant.

As I was searching the archives at work today for an obscure physician who joined our membership in 1858, I saw so many gorgeous examples of old scripts.

There are thousands of cards in our card catalogue, many of them hand-written.

I found old ledger books, beginning with our founding in 1799, where even the simplest of words are beautifully written.

Although the handwriting isn’t great, it was fun to come across an original copy of the nomination of one of my ancestors to be President of the organization where I now work. This would have been in the 1830’s or so.

These lists of our members from the early 1820’s are so beautifully written. All done by hand, with very few mistakes.

An interesting letter reporting someone practicing medicine without a license in 1818.

I still take pride in the fact that I have good handwriting, especially my cursive. Although I find myself writing less and less, I think it’s important to know how to write in print and cursive. Do you?

July 30, 2013

Fur Baby

Connor is a double-coated Labrador Retriever, or mostly Lab anyway. Regardless, the dog sheds at an unbelievable rate. I say that I could knit whole other dogs from what he sheds. We’ve had a few weeks of very hot weather, after a relatively cool spring and early summer, so now Connor’s decided that projectile shedding will rid him of his heavy coat.fur2

I try and brush him at least once a week just to keep the shedding in check, and I try to do it on a breezy day, or else this happens.furMy back garden turns into a cotton field! Usually, the birds come and get it or it blows away. I figure that anything that’s in the back garden isn’t in my house. It’s really quite shocking that the dog has any hair at all, given what I brush off of him.

After trying any number of shedding blades, brushes, rubber sponges, and other instruments, I now use a magical tool called a Furminator. It gets the crinkled undercoat that helps keep the dog warm in the winter, as well as the oily Labrador top hairs that keep him waterproof. image

I am not exactly sure how this works, but it does! It doesn’t snag or tear at Connor’s hair or skin, so he tolerates it for whole minutes at a time. It’s really been a huge help in keeping his shedding down to a dull roar. I can’t recommend this enough.

I received one of these Furminators a few years ago from the local paper’s pet reporter to review, but nothing for this endorsement.

July 28, 2013

Baltimore: It’s Not Just The Wire

Part of the reason I write Pigtown*Design is to show people that Baltimore isn’t just what you see on The Wire, and in fact, I am giving a lecture on that topic in October. When I first started writing this blog, a guy in England was just beginning to write a blog about The Wire, a television show filmed in Baltimore. As he would write bad things about Baltimore, I’d write back and refute his suppositions. We would go back and forth and try to convince each other that we were right in our assertions. image

I have to admit here that I’ve never seen one minute of The Wire. I was of two minds about it – I didn’t want to know what was going on around me, and I already knew too much of what was going on around me.

A few years later, he wrote a book on The Wire. (Click the image to order… I just did!) imageSo when Steve Busfield came to Baltimore this weekend, he knew to call me and have the “real Baltimore” tour! But since my real Baltimore and his Wired Baltimore only intersect on the most narrow of planes, we did a bit of each piece of Baltimore.

We met up at Camden Yards for a baseball game – in fact, this was his and his two girls’ 18th ballpark they’ve visited, which is about 17 more than I’ve been to!image

We watched the Orioles beat Boston 6-0 and had a great time checking out all of the interesting sections of the ballpark, including walking the length of the warehouse that makes up one side of the stadium. image

On Saturday, we met up at the 200+ year old Lexington Market for some local food.imageThe younger of the girls and I partook of the delicacy known locally as a Chicken Box. It could have easily fed a family of four for several days, and we had to walk away without finishing it. We did manage to have a Burger Cookie or two as well. Click here for an explanation of our lunch.

From the market, we headed over to pay homage to Edgar Allan Poe by visiting both his gravesite and his house. image

From there, we cruised around the neighbourhoods where much of the action in The Wire takes place, and then headed over to Fort McHenry. imageWe were lucky enough to arrive in time for an afternoon military tattoo, which is last orders at a military post. I’ve been to a number of these and they’re always impressive.

Heading out from there, we checked out a few of the hotspots on The Wire tour, including the infamous Greenmount Cemetery, which I wrote about here. greenmount

Of course, I couldn’t let Steve and the girls think that Baltimore’s just The Wire, so we swung by The Book Thing to let the girls pick out some great books they could read on their trips to visit all of the baseball parks. We also drove through some of Baltimore’s more beautiful neighbourhoods to give them an idea of the beautiful architecture here. image


We also checked out some of Baltimore’s rather attractive jails, here

and here.image

All in all, I think I did enough to dispel Steve’s idea that all of Baltimore is The Wire. It’s not. It’s much much more.

July 26, 2013

Presents for a Prince

Now that that Royal bambino’s been born, the merchandising has let loose like a flood!image There’s no shortage of absolute rubbish that’s out there, even moments after the baby was born. image

Available for two low, low payments of $24.99!

How about this monstrosity?image

These are a little more tasteful, but then they’re by Emma Bridgewater.image

Oops… got this one wrong.image

Hedging their bets.image

This is from the official range, and it’s rather nice.image

These are pretty funny… a play on the yummy mummy.image

If you’re sick of hearing about the new baby, perhaps this will help!image

Milly Green did a range for the Jubilee that I really liked, and I like this one as well.image

Even Harrods got in on the action.image

As did Highgrove! Wonder if Prince Charles picked up a pair of these for the baby?image

There’s even Royal Baby laundry detergent!image

It’s worth the effort!image

July 24, 2013

Unique Opportunity: Toll-bridge Keeper in Wales!

When I lived in Wales, I used to take off on the weekends and just go where the road lead me. I never worried about getting lost, because at some point, all roads pointed to Cardiff, the capital of Wales. UK Day 7 (2)

I would drive to the Snowdonia Mountains in the north of Wales. While small, they are among the most dangerous mountains in the world. This little toll-keeper’s cottage on a road leading to Snowdonia National Park is up for sale for the bargain price of £195,000. Of course, you’d have to like an extremely rural location, and only need one bedroom. imageBuilt by the Penmaenpool Bridge Company to replace the ferry it provides a very well-used shortcut for motorists and pedestrians over the Afon (River) Mawddach.

Because of the northern location of the Welsh coast, harbours and inlets along the coast empty out twice a day. The tides are killer – literally!image

The house and bridge were built around 1910 and about 200 cars cross the bridge each day.image

Wales is a beautiful and dramatic country and very sparsely populated. image

You could go live there, too!  Information here.

July 23, 2013

Summertime and the Living Is…

As I was scouring the UK papers for details on the little Prince of Cambridge, I stumbled upon a series of photographs extolling summer homes and gardens. We’ve suffered through a sweltering few weeks, and these images just cooled me off wonderfully and gave me some great ideas. Enjoy!

Lots of lanterns and candles.image

Wildflower display. Just bunches of flowers in clear jars and vases.image

Picnic on the lawn… yours or somewhere else...image

Like a local parkimage

You never know what you might see!image

How’s your summer going?