Delights of the Season.... And A Very Special Giveaway!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Delights of the Season, and A Very Special Giveaway!

I’m as restless as willow in a windstorm.
I’m as jumpy as a puppet on a string.
I’d say that I had Spring fever,
but I know it isn’t Spring.
Or is it?
As I sit beside my open window, I keep glancing over at the calendar. Perhaps I missed a month? For strange as it seems after such a cold winter, spring seems to have already arrived. And despite myself, just like the purple finches now singing happy songs high up in the bare maples, I am ensnared by its magic. How can I possibly resist the lure of this season that has captivated painters and poets down through the ages? Truth is, I can’t, so I’ve decided to just give in... and revel in Springtime, early though it may be.
So here’s a special list - a baker's dozen delights for this wonderful time of year.
And there’s an extra special giveaway at the end!
Oh and the magical painting above can be found HERE.


1. Flowers
Without a doubt, I would spend my last few dollars on fresh flowers.
The cottage just doesn’t seem dressed without vases full of them in every room.
That’s something I adore about London and I was reminded of afresh during my recent trip there. Flowers are available everywhere. The photo above was taken outside the doors of Liberty.
One of the most delightful things about this time of year is the anticipation of all flowers that will soon be waking up in my gardens. So many hydrangeas! And they make the most divine arrangements all the way to autumn.
For as much as I love the flower market, there’s nothing like growing your own.


2. An Oscar for the King
Sometimes the good guys do win!
Congratulations to Colin Firth.
Brilliant performance in a beautiful movie.

3. Jane Eyre
One never forgets one’s first literary love. For me, Charlotte Bronte’s classic was the first book that raised the curtain on the remarkable power of words. Though still a child, I dove heartfirst into that book, barely coming up for air till it was finished. I’ve collected beautiful copies of it ever since. And of course, I’m intrigued with each new production that comes along, although I will confess to being rather hard to please. I found Ciaran Hinds to be more than adequate as the enigmatic Mr. Rochester, but William Hurt just made me cringe. (And wasn’t that the same version that had Elle MacPherson playing Blanche Ingram? Scheesh.)
Well, a brand new film adaptation opens this month and, of course, I must go see it. I’m already a fan of Mia Wasikowska who plays our heroine. I think she has a lovely screen presence and some serious acting chops to boot. Judi Dench is playing Mrs. Fairfax, so that bodes well for this production. As for Mr. Rochester, we’ll just have to wait and see.
See the trailer HERE.


4. Hats
I always come home from London with a longing to wear extravagant hats.
Such a pity they’ve gone out of fashion here in the States.
Truth be told though, I’ve never thought I look especially good in hats.
My hair seems too long - too.... much.
But along comes the gorgeous Kate Middleton.
She has long hair and she looks perfectly divine in hats.
Even in a fascinator, like the one shown above.
Maybe I should rethink this.


5. The Hipstamatic Application
I’m trying to become better acquainted with my iPhone.
He’s been riding around in my handbag for awhile now, and I know the little chap is enthusiastic about showing me all he can do, but I’ve been a bit slow to take advantage of his many offerings.
Lately, however, I have begun to investigate his compendium of many wonders, especially in the camera department, and I have discovered the Hipstamatic app.
A real treat, it transforms any image one snaps into something that looks antique.
I spent yesterday at the barn with my good friend Natalie and her handsome horse, Walter, the perfect place to practice the Hipstamatic. Although Walter spent the entire afternoon in an ultimately futile attempt to steal the locket from around my neck, he did make the most wonderful model, don’t you think?
Read about it HERE.


6. Albert Hadley Closes His Doors... With A Sale
Four short years ago, I was so busy in my interior design business that I could hardly keep up with anything else. Then one day, it stopped, cold. The downturn in the economy hit designers hard, particularly those who, like myself, had businesses that catered to the sort of clients who craved the bespoke and unique over the mass-produced and trendy. I wasn’t alone, it happened to a lot of us. And now I find that it’s also happened to the best of us, for the great Albert Hadley has retired after, as the NY Times recently put it, his business “slowed to a trickle”.
For decades, Mr. Hadley, along with the renown Sister Parish, sat atop the pinnacle of interior design. Their firm, Parish-Hadley, “did” every important dwelling from the Astors and the Rockefellers to the White House. Odd to think that, in this day of DIY, his services are no longer requested.
But the good news, I suppose, is this: Mr. Hadley is having a warehouse sale. Two auctions - one at Sotheby’s in Manhattan on March 30th, the other on April 1st at Stair Galleries in Hudson, NY - will feature the contents of both his office and his warehouse, as well as some items from his own home. These sales are sure to be treasure troves of wonderful items and a rare opportunity to glimpse design’s golden age.

Make your home as comfortable and attractive as possible and then get on with living.
There's more to life than decorating.
Albert Hadley


7. Dandelion Chairs
Flowers, flowers, everywhere!
Even in furniture.
Isn’t this dandelion chair amazing?
And can't you just visualize it around a Springtime lunch table?
See more HERE


8. The Wearable Art of Mary Katrantzou

I can be utterly carried away by beautiful textiles.When I decorate a room, the jumping off point is almost always a piece of exquisite fabric. It is fascinating to observe the marriage of interior design and fashion and, often, when I find myself almost magnetically drawn to a garment, it is because I find the fabric irresistible. Of course, I then have to ask myself if I want to wear this dress, or cover a chair in it. An important question, for it does take a little something extra to carry off an extravagant print with aplomb. However, if given the chance, I would wear any of Mary Katrantzou’s designs anytime of day, for I find them to be the consummate blend of art and fashion as they combine both interior and exterior design so beautifully.
Born in Greece, Ms. Katrantzou studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and is now a London based designer whose latest show was the talk of fashion week there.
Just look at these clothes! One can easily see that her inspiration was, “Diana Vreeland and coromandel screens”.
See more HERE.

9. The Perfect Tea Cup
No one makes tea like the British.
I don’t know why that is so, but it is, as my recent time in London once again confirmed.
Nonetheless, I love to make tea.
And I love all the acomapnnied actourements.
The perfect tea pot.
The perfect cup.
This is, to me, a wonderful choice for Spring.
I’m drinking Darjeeling at the moment.
Find the cup HERE, and do join me.


10. Whimsical China
And I adore this new china!
What a fabulous Springtime table one could set with this!
Find it HERE.


11. Shoes
There comes a day in March when, no matter how chilly it may still be, boots are simply no longer an option.
Even a favourite pair now seems heavy and dull.
These divine shoes are for that day.
Find them HERE.


12. The Distant Hours
If Alfred Hitchcock still walked the planet, he would have snatched up Kate Morton's new novel, The Distant Hours, before the ink was dry on the page. This book would have made the most divine Hitchcockian film.
In black and white, of course.
All the boxes are ticked here.....
A crumbling old castle with a man of questionable sanity holed up in the tower.
Three elderly sisters with secrets galore.
Thunderstorms, lots of thunderstorms.
Yes, this is well-traveled territory and there are perhaps one, or two, too many coincidences.
But it's a wonderful book to curl up with during one of those Springtime thunderstorms.
Find it HERE.


13. Fair Trade

One thing about travel, when one can eat a late breakfast in one country and cross an ocean to dinner in another, it becomes rather difficult to remain comfortably insulated from what transpires in other parts of the globe, no matter how far flung those places may seem to be. Our world is small now, and becoming even smaller with each new Facebook friend or Tweet. Whether we are talking about climate change or revolution, what touches one country will most certainly touch our own. Fortunately, this means than even the smallest changes for good have some effect. When we turn down our thermostats or recycle our plastic and glass, when we make informed decisions about the cars that we drive, or pay attention to where and how our food is grown, we need to remember that these small changes can make important differences for the betterment of all.
I have recently become more aware and knowledgeable about the concept of fair trade. Fair Trade organizations allow artisans around the world to receive a fair price for their work by providing a direct link between those artisans and the consumer. They enable these artisans to create sustainable businesses, thereby improving the well-being of entire communities. Many fair trade items are certified organic as well and even if they’re not, they tend to produce items in much more environmentally friendly ways by minimizing pesticides and pollutants.
One of the best resources for Fair Trade items is Novica, a subsidary of National Geographic. You can find all sorts of fabulous items at Novica, just a sample of which can be seen in the photographs here, and each item comes with a card that provides information about the artist who created it.

And now, especially for my first Springtime list of 2011, Novica is offering my readers a most generous giveaway gift -
A $100 gift certificate!

All you have to do is visit their site HERE and come back to tell me what you’d choose.
And if you are, or become, a follower of this blog, you’ll be entered twice!
I’ll draw the lucky winner at midnight on Thursday, St. Patrick’s Day.

Edward and I wish you all the luck of the Irish
and we send our best wishes for a Happy, Early, Spring.


To learn more about Novica here's some extra links...
For Fair Trade corporate gifts go HERE.
For Eco-friendly gifts go HERE
and for information on their micro-finance program, go HERE