May 17, 2017

Peony Time!

It's the most wonderful time of the year! The peonies are blooming and they are just stunning. I think that peonies are one of my favourite blooms, and I always take advantage of their short season to get as many as I can.

Luckily, I have friends and neighbours who are willing to share their bounty with me, and if that fails, I can usually find them, during the season, at Whole Foods.

This year, my next-door neighbour's peonies are blooming away, but the ones at my friends' farm, just 15 miles to the north, are still mostly in tight bud stage. 

But the few that were out when I was there yesterday were stunning. We are having an event on Thursday, so I only took pictures of the peonies at the farm, and didn't cut any. 

Although the season is short, my appreciation of these stunning flowers is vast. 

And, as I said, I am lucky to have friends and neighbours who are willing and happy to share!

May 11, 2017

It's a Madcap World...

I was so pleased to attend the grand re-opening of the local Calico (no longer Calico Corners) store, which featured two design friends: Jason Oliver Nixon and John Locke, the gents from Madcap Cottage! I had met the two of them several years ago in High Point, and in a major coincidence, Jason's sister and I live in the same neighbourhood in Baltimore!

Jason and John's trademark style is bright and exuberant.
This was immediately apparent by the blazers they were wearing - made from their own fabrics and piped with bright trim.

John & Jason gave a nice talk about how to layer fabrics so that they don't look like a mish-mash, but a comprehensive whole. 

I fell in love with one of their fabrics, which you can see on the left - the green one. It's called Mocambo and it comes in several lush colourways. All of the fabrics are designed and drawn by John & Jason, and invoke places they've been and things that they love. Many are named after country houses and gardens in England.

As part of the opening festivities, Calico hosted several drawings for pillows made from Madcap's fabrics, two custom designed pillows and a beautiful wing chair with several of the fabrics from their collection. 

I was thrilled to be the winner of two custom-designed pillows and had the fun experience of picking out which of their many fabrics I wanted. As I mentioned, I was drawn to this print called Mocambo. 

I really had a hard time deciding which colourway, and what to pair it with. But after a bit lot of thought, I decided on these two.

I loved the little ginkgo print called Howard's End, and loved how well it paired with the Mocambo both in colour and scale. I am so excited about this and can't wait to get them.

Thanks so much to Calico and Madcap Cottage for a fun evening!

May 3, 2017

Mint Juleps for Derby Day

These drinking weekends are coming fast and furious, with the Hunt Cup last weekend and the Kentucky Derby this weekend. 

I am going to a birthday party on Saturday and texted the host to remind him that it was also Derby Day, and we've all watched the race together for the past few years. Should I bring my julep cups and some mint? I knew that he had plenty of bourbon on hand (Maker's Mark is the house brand), but lacked cups. Of course, he replied.

So, I hunted up the julep cups that I now have and began the process of polishing them.

Sad story: my silver cups, one of which I received each year, for a number of years, were stolen right after I moved back to the States, so I just have odd ones from Williams-Sonoma and other places. Unfortunately, Williams-Sonoma is no longer selling the ones I liked.

This year, I actually have enough mint that I can cannibalize my mint plants without worrying that I will kill them. So, julep cups and mint. That's my contribution to the party, because the host said no gifts. 

Here's the recipe, in case you'd like to try it at home: 

Make a simple syrup by boiling two cups of sugar and two cups of water together for five minutes. Cool, and place in a covered container with six or so springs of fresh mint and then refrigerate overnight. Put a few mint leaves and a little bit of sugar in the bottom of a julep cup and muddle the mint and sugar, releasing the essential oils. Fill the cup with crushed ice. My feeling is that the ice that comes out of the fridge is too coarse, and needs to be smaller. Add a tablespoon of the simple syrup and bourbon. Stir to frost the outside of the cup and garnish with a sprig of mint.