Sunday, May 31, 2009

Love :: Tea Time

Tea time is a great way to connect with people. I have a group of friends who go out to tea fairly often, but I think it's great to entertain this way at home. A simple flower arrangement, a menu of savory and sweet tidbits -- and of course great tea -- make for a convivial atmosphere. Such a delight!

I prefer to send invitations to tea in the mail. Each invitation includes my monogram and the invitation "Please come to tea", along with the pertinent details and reply information.

A few more details:
Earl Grey with Lavender tea (served in these), and three courses, always served in this order: savory tea sandwiches, scones with strawberry preserves and clotted cream, and sweets (baby eclairs, fruit tarts, petit fours, palmiers -- and a sea salt caramel). My good friend S made the comment that the palmiers complement the teapots -- elephant ears. So true!

Tea may look fancy, but it's really not. I hope that everyone had a great time!

Okay. I need a baby eclair. Last. One.

Love :: Weekends at Green City Market

One of the best parts of a summer Saturday in Chicago is the Green City Market! Right now, peonies are ramping up, and there is -- among other things -- live music. This group played last weekend. I think the band is called Haywood Blues, but my cursory research to confirm that turned up nothing. If you do know who they are, please let me know. They were fun!

As I said the peonies are "ramping up", meaning that they are there, but sell out fast -- they aren't at their peak yet. So on the day I went, I had to settle for blush-colored lilies. Which have lasted all week! Happy weekend to you!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Haunting :: Mottled Green Marble Bookends

I spied this pair of mottled green Italian marble bookends on the second scour of the bric-a-brac section of a little nothing place in NC. They have some issues, but those wear more like patina than damage, and the green is so good -- so good. They will be good in my living room. And they are so heavy, there is no way that my books will fall over.

The little books shown here are part of the Penguin 60p series from the 90s. Penguin sold these little guys for 60p each to celebrate the company's 60th anniversary. They were perfect for toting through London during my study abroad trip... to have one of these on the Tube or while waiting in line for theater tickets was supposed to be smart use of your time, but inevitably I just liked to watch the people hurry about on the street or study the design in the Tube stations. And when I came home I picked up a few more American books (I think they were 95¢ in the U.S.), things like the United States Constitution and the Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day :: Thank You

That's my grandfather on the right. He served in the Pacific theater in WWII. He came from a small mill village in southwestern North Carolina, and his family had lived in the area since Tryon County was half the state. I workout with a woman whose husband is in the National Guard and this spring returned from deployment in Iraq. I think that serving in the National Guard is very honorable, and I told her so. The DAR is going to be laying a wreath at General Logan's monument at Grant Park today, and I will be there.

Thank you to all the men and women who have served our country.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dior vs Chanel :: Le cinema de la mode :: Bring it!

Marion Cotillard is starring in a serial film for Dior... all about a handbag. She's cool; "eh" to the bag. You can view the Dior film here, and you can see the post on Audrey Tatou in her film for Chanel here. Personally, I like the Chanel film much more. Enjoy!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Love :: A Chicago Hot Dog Stand

Down south I was used to getting a hot dog on a steamed bun with ketchup and slaw. They would run you out of town on a rail if you tried that order in Chicago. On a Chicago dog: mustard, onions, sweet pickle relish that is a very unnatural shade of green, tomato slices, hot peppers, a dill pickle spear and celery salt -- all this is usually piled into a poppy seed bun. Never ketchup (back to that rail). And there isn't even slaw on in the fixin' line-up.

I was inspired to visit Bill's Drive-In after seeing "The Hot Dog Show" on PBS for the upteenth time, even though I have heard that these are different owners from the "Bill" of yore. And, technically, it's in Evanston (but about 50 ft north of the Chicago border). I had a dog all the way -- just no peppers. Hot dog, eh. All the 'yelps' rave about the burgers -- next time.

Debut :: Espadrilles

It's the holiday weekend, and I'm starting it right with the debut of a pair of salmon pink round-toe espadrilles -- paired with dark denim tailored sailor pants and a white smock shirt with pin-tuck pleats. Ooo la la!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

When in Chicago...

I love the designers over at MeTV. The spots they create to promote the network's vintage programming are right-on, and not syrupy-sweet nostalgic. Check out this great promo for The Andy Griffith Show. Especially at 00:35 where Barney's song is answered by Andy.

I had this idea about a year ago that my perfect man was about 85% Rob Petrie and 15% Andy Taylor. No kidding.

When in Chicago, watch MeTV! You'll feel good.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Love :: A Man Magnet

It's a funny thing about this clutch. It's black leather with perforations and these four die-cut holes along the top. It closes with strong sewn-in magnets (they are in the structure of the bag, pretty invisible at first inspection).

This little black clutch has garnered so many compliments from women and men alike, that my friends used to joke that it was a "man magnet". The funny thing is -- turns out it's not a joke. When I take this out, random men compliment my bag. Straight men. In wine bars. Or at a restaurant for lunch. They cannot resist it. It started as a joke, but no more. It's bona fide.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Love :: A Good Dandy

Dandies... so well-dressed and nonchalant. Always composed, always dignified. There were quite a few at the Art Institute on Friday. So, my question to the fellows: How dandy are you? Find out here.

Image ::

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Young Modern :: Art Institute Chicago

The Young Modern event on Friday night was one of the big kick-off parties celebrating the opening of the new Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. There have been parties all week kicking off the official opening today. C, S and I attended the Young Modern event -- from 10pm to 2am we toured the galleries and sipped champagne.

The galleries that usually house the Art Institute's big special exhibits were transformed into a series of lounges filled with light and music. These are the same galleries that just housed the Edvard Munch exhibit -- what a change!

The atrium hall of the Modern wing was so open -- I can't wait to experience this architecture during the daytime. The light should be spectacular.

There was a ton of great fashion. Attire was "modern", and the crowd was turned-out in a big way. Fab.

The largest exhibit in the Modern wing was Cy Twombly. I was surprised to learn that he is from Lexington, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley. The work was great. The brown pieces (right in the image above) were the only ones that I didn't really embrace. The others had great color. Some reference handwriting on a blackboard, and others reference landscapes and floral motifs.

This party was a blast. Believe it or not, there was an afterparty at Chicago's Le Passage, and we high-tailed it to Lincoln Park for breakfast. Only to wake up and head to the DAR Spring Luncheon! No complaining!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Love :: Silk Scarf on a Breezy Day

Better late than never for a post -- fashion for lunch and a matinee. It was just breezy enough to make that scarf dance! And a green pocketbook to set it off. Whew!

High-End Flea

I wonder how the Jayson flea market is doing... It seems like in the past this was over and done in a flash... not an event that would never end. They have been marketing this at every turn:

1 Hype pre-event
2 Actual event
3 Mother's Day post-event
4 Now this:

Go stimulate the economy with some high-end flea, people.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Haunting :: Candlesticks

I wasn't on the hunt -- I wasn't planning on looking, even. But I was in NC, and untested places scream "opportunity", so if you're feeling lucky, it certainly doesn't hurt to check one out.

I like to scour a haunt in sections, and the first walk through this place didn't reveal much. But as I made my way to the middle of the place, I spied these ironstone candlesticks with orange and black transfer color and painted gold stripes. And the fact that these were a pair made them a must-have. I snagged them straight-away.

They remind me of one of my old design profs -- he had this insanely huge collection of colorful vintage candlesticks, pottery and glassware of this vintage -- all crowded on tables and shelves. So much color!

Photo above: transferware candlesticks as found in the wild.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

There's a Teapot in the Room -- Two, in Fact

These are the fab elephant teapots I mentioned last week. I spotted one at a good haunt, and while there was a second little guy there too, his finial was broken. So, I put out an APB with K (a fellow haunter), and she found one, no problem! Thank you, K!

This pair of pachyderms will be great for tea time. Their pristine white surface will blend well with all kinds of white china, and since they are so simply styled, they can work with stark minimal pieces and more English-inspired ones... think Imperial India. I need a safari jacket, pronto!

Haunting :: Moravian Cookies

A little bit of Winston-Salem! These are traditional cookies -- "the world's thinnest cookie" -- made in the old Moravian communities of colonial days. We used to have these with coffee after the Moravian Christmas Eve service. I picked up the Spice Cookies and the Key Lime variety. I like the traditional, but the Key Lime could be great for a summer tea.

PS :: They had cheese straws too! Don't get me started on cheese straws -- too good.

Find out more about the Old Salem Moravian community here, and more about the cookies themselves here. Enjoy!

Wish List :: Fornasetti

Fornasetti plates have been on my wish list for years. They play like the porcelain love child between the Dadaists and Fellini -- like something out of "Blow Up" if it had been filmed in 1921. The discipline of the format -- always black printing on a white porcelain plate -- brings order to the overall scheme and allows for so many variations of the subject, making them ideal for mixing and matching. The lady in the plate can be beautiful, sexual, referential or ridiculous, and that discipline elevates the pieces, but her looks are also tongue-in-cheek.

These Fornasetti plates are part of the series "Theme and Variation" and are exclusive to MossOnline.

Images above: MossOnline

Monday, May 11, 2009

Debut :: Sandals and Scarf Pairing

I love a good debut! These swank sandals were a find this weekend, and I wanted to let them live in the world right away. And they look great with --

This scarf. I was inspired to pull this vintage silk number from my collection after one of my twitter friends posted a couple of scarf blog links. It's a Marcel Guillemin number called "Diffusion" in black, pink, yellow, orange and ivory. Today was the perfect day for it, too -- spring can be a bit nippy -- a silk scarf and denim jacket do the trick nicely!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Clayspace Co-op :: The haunt for NC pottery

Top, pot with brushwork, Kyle Carpenter. Above, pots drying in the Clayspace studio.

My brother has been a member of this group for about two and a half years, and I have to say that I love this place.

North Carolina's pottery heritage lives at Clayspace Co-op in Asheville. From Matt Jacob's house jars to Eric Knoche's sculptural pieces to the traditional forms and painted designs of Kyle Carpenter (my brother), I think that this place is a pottery paradise. Craftsmanship is king. Form is paramount. And making with clay is a way of life.

Clayspace Co-op gallery, Asheville River Arts District.

North Carolina has an long heritage of ceramic arts. Since colonial days, North Carolina potters have been creating functional and decorative works from the clay soil found in the state. Six potters work out of the Clayspace studio in Asheville's River Arts District, and their work is as diverse and appealing as the state itself. And as a working studio and gallery space, you can see the work from start to finish, and talk with the artists one-on-one. Have a question? Don't be shy -- these folks love to talk pots.

Pot in progress, Eric Knoche.

Heather Tinnaro works at the wheel.

This is one great Asheville haunt.

North Carolina pot detail, Kyle Carpenter.

I am very happy to report that I went home with this great little "N.C." pot of Kyle's. I am big into North Carolina -- it's my home state -- and I was so enamored with this piece commemorating the Old North State. And the hand lettering!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Love a Vintage Lacoste

Thursday, May 7, 2009

One for Me, One for You

What do I give people who don't need a thing? I head to my go-to chocolate haunt: Vosges Haut-Chocolat on Armitage in Chicago. Maybe I'll start calling it "Haunt-Chocolat". Not only is it superior chocolate, but the deep purple packaging is so, so beautiful.

At the shop I treated myself to some Red Fire ice cream -- I had never tried it before, but I love the Aztec collection truffles and the Red Fire toffee and tortilla chips. Let's just say it delivered. It was fantastic. Vosges serves it in a take-out container -- another signature packaging move.

And for the gift, a nine-piece box of the springtime Fleurs collection truffles for my sister who is graduating with her Masters. A wow sursie for Mother's Day, too.

Haunting Brings Unexpected Things

Like these guys, for instance. At an immaculately styled shop in Chicago, a group of these figurines stood on a small silver tray -- a little army of duos. Some wore sky blue tunics, some sage green. This pair was the only one with terra cotta and gold stripes.

When I picked them up for closer inspection, I noticed the sticker said "Chang and Eng". I knew those names! From North Carolina!

A bit of background: Born in Siam (now Thailand) in 1811, Chang and Eng Bunker were connected at the chest. As teenagers, the twins traveled the world giving lectures and demonstrations. According to their travelogues, they visited the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1834. Chang and Eng were such international celebrities, the term "Siamese Twins" became the common name to describe conjoined twins.

After traveling the world, they came back to North Carolina and married two sisters, Adelaide and Sarah Yates of Wilkes County. The two families eventually produced 21 children!

Back to the haunt: When I asked the shopkeeper about the little Chang and Eng figurines, he said that John Derian (of decoupage fame) had found a lot of about a hundred of them in England, and that they had been made when the twins were worldwide celebrities. Mr Derian brought them back to the U.S., and this group of figurines ended up at my haunt. I think you could have knocked that shopkeeper over with a feather when he heard the North Carolina story... just seems out of left field.

I poured over the little rugged porcelain army, studying their painted faces and contemplating the colors of their robes until I settled on the best pair. Now they live on my desk, reminding me about the Old North State and all its variety, and how these two men made such rich lives.

Watercolor image and history source: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill University Libraries

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cinco de Mayo :: Chicago History Museum

It was a full-on fiesta at the Chicago History Museum last night! We celebrated Cinco de Mayo in style: kickin' Mariachis, perfect margaritas and homemade guacamole from Adobo Grill, and a tequila and chocolate pairing with truffles from my favorite place for chocolate: Vosges Haut Chocolat. We were treated to the Ancho Chili truffle from Vosges' Aztec collection -- very, very delicious -- and complex!

In addition to those kickin' Mariachis, we were also treated to Mexican 80s pop. As explained to me by the music's owner, "It's kind of like a Mexican Duran Duran or Bananarama, but definitely not like a Mexican Britney Spears."

Thank you very much, C, for inviting me! After the museum event, we ambled over to Adobo Grill for more guacamole, more margaritas, and tamales, enchiladas and ceviche. Delicioso.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Speaking of Chanel --

Must go to France. And wear Chanel. France. Chanel. France. Chanel. And take un cafe avec Mademoiselle Tautou.

See the new Chanel No. 5 film starring Audrey Tautou here.

Wilde Hats

I love these hats by Ryan Wilde!

Wearing a hat will almost always lead to loads of compliments, so it's curious that women don't wear them more often. Though truth be told, they do start to bother me after a bit... it's hard for me to forget that I have one on my head. But I like the look. With spring finally here in Chicago, everyone in the DAR chapter is looking for hats for the Spring Luncheon coming up... here's some great inspiration! Maybe I'll add a butterfly to one of my own hats for the event.

Ryan Wilde's hats are fab. They have enough going on to be different -- but they look wearable. Sometimes it's hard to pull off a great hat (particularly a vintage one) without looking like you're in costume. I tell myself, "Remember: confidence."

The image above is from The Cut's post on Ryan Wilde (she started at Chanel!). My fashion-forward friend K often points to The Cut -- good stuff! Check out their blog post on Ryan Wilde here.

PS :: I always wanted a name like "Wilde"... so many opportunities for double entendres!

On My Way :: Chicago Springtime

Score! :: This Weekend at the Haunts

What a great weekend at the haunts. I visited my "first on the list" place (it's very convenient), and -- nothing. Not. A. Thing. That almost never happens.

But I was feeling lucky. So I pressed on. Next up? A place I visit every month or so. It's pretty good. But Saturday was very good. Check it out!

These little china cups are so, so delicate. And they will be great with my new pair of white elephant teapots.* They have a Belleek feel, but no markings. They're fun little things.

I also scored a 1960 Emily Post etiquette book. I love a good etiquette book. They are so definitive. I have an Amy Vanderbilt edition of the same era, but my absolute fave is my Mrs Oliver Harriman tome from the 1940s. This lady was serious about etiquette. She had a very old-school perspective that I think sounds more 1920s than 1940s. My grandmother was quite the It Girl of Raleigh in the twenties, and the tone of the book reminds me of the tidbits about her wedding festivities in the society pages of old editions of The Raleigh Times.

I like comparing etiquette advice from book to book. And with a sprinkle of Martha Stewart (particularly her Weddings rag), a dash of all the etiquette and civility blogs on the web, and well... maybe I'll write a paper on it all one day.

Though there were more things in my buggy -- a crystal decanter, a little Italian cake stand (tiny with daisies), a crystal honey pot -- I'll end with this piece:

What is it?

Other than some type of mug and saucer, I have no idea. It's china with teal and gold transfer color, and there is an inscription that ends in "1969r." (the script you see in the photo above), but I can't figure it out. Any ideas?

There's also a mark, but I haven't had a moment to research it:

I'm thinking of using it with a great big peony bloom! Love that gold!

*The elephants will make an appearance in a few days... I love them too much not to share.

Color Me Impressed, Kate Spade of Oak Street.

Imagine my surprise when I opened my mailbox today to find this:

Monday, May 4, 2009


I visited Antietam National Battlefield last summer on an incredibly beautiful day. Virginia never looked as lovely as it did on that day -- and that is saying a lot. The sky was perfectly blue with a few bright-white clouds, and the grass of the rolling fields was a luscious swath of green.

But -- the type!

This lovely sample of bronze script was just one of many inscriptions that point to landmarks in the countryside for the visitors high above in the the memorial tower on the site. This type is truly beautiful... so well-crafted, and the patina makes it come alive. The tower and that incredible sky: