Welcome Spring! (?)

This groundhog, commonly known as “Punxatawney Phil” is the Northeasterner’s version of The Farmer’s Almanac. Every year, Mr. Phil comes out of hibernation and legend has it, whether he sees his shadow or not, it is an indication of an early spring or extended winter.Barney, Cousin to Punxsutawney Phil in Punxsutawney, PAWell, this year I think Phil screwed up because there are a lot of people who want to go “Bill Murray” on him right now. Apparently, on Groundhog Day he predicted an early spring. As we all know up here, he was seriously WRONG!!!!  My Facebook friend, Janet summed it up today very well….

I am in the “THEM” category.551980_559830247383687_913137109_nOf course I would love to be making a sand snowmen, but the best I can do is start planning some projects for the nice weather. I want to share a lot of information I have gathered from a very long winter’s worth of playing on my laptop. I have discovered so many interactive sites and have spent MANY hours learning them, and utilizing them to network and find great ideas.

Today’s post comes courtesy of Pinterest and the people who have taken the time to photograph and share their ideas and creations. 7807ab2f8eeb4520b60fceb493c484d1Container Gardening is for everyone. It does not matter where you live, if you have a yard or not, or even if you don’t have a very green thumb!greenthumb Container Gardening is very easy to do and the fun part is the creativity. Even now, the home stores are starting to stock up on the early bloomers such as tulips, hyacinth and pansies. So go ahead and get started because a container garden can even be left inside for a kick start on the season.

A lot of my friends ride horses and/or own a barn so these ideas are perfect for all the barn items that are no longer usable for their original purpose. Have an old water trough?

This is so much prettier !

447e98b81e1ec260e27cdd8b7f703714I am sure everyone has an old wheelbarrow laying around somewhere. Can’t you see these at the entrance to the farm?

b3f91506eed223af6ff4bfa0553c187bOr this one?39218f6e4cf1a1a37a3a9e5af55b800eHow many people lost trees from the hurricane? If you are left with an ugly stump, this a perfect way to make it beautiful and so easy to do!

5bc37705281c51fa8df2b495fed1e76fGot an old door laying around? Even add a window box to it and this is what you can do…

b02a27197ee76f320987f08e10ce8625Even though this is not for flowers, every farm is loaded with hoses for all the watering that is needed. This is a great idea to keep them off the ground. A simple 4×4 post and a ready made finial and hook is all you need. Of course a container garden at the bottom really would be a nice touch!3ee21dd95dcc91fc259129b8eeffc090Everyone that rides probably has some “wellies” or a pair of waterproof boots or clogs that need to be retired. They are so colorful and really are fun to use as a container.

5b4b148a4595afd319a369aca2ae49bcIs there an old window laying around that is broken? Remove the glass and hang a single pot inside each section.

0e1edc4b4391bfa4855fa7ed150dc70cIf you have shutters, the same thing can be done as the window. At a salvage yard, old shutters can be purchased for very little money, making this idea fun and affordable.

7437b42b1fc82f1dc7da9d20a7a8576bA bunch of old unused containers and watering cans can be arranged into a group.

6fa0500bad260d2978f5a9b8246bf167An unused birdbath is perfect for planting and the layers can even cascade down by adding vines that trail.

9f126fcd03bd93b0c3dc7ceabd9afbcfStacking containers by inserting a metal pole into the ground and using it to support the containers. This creates a cascade effect.

4d6e7db251cc96ba39d36fce29dfeafeIf you are lucky enough to find planters like these, fill them with trailing succulents and have fun with all your new friends with cool hair! Just don’t forget to water them!

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Do you have an small piece of furniture that no longer is usable inside?

012031b228bc000b7a515d10be7caf6eFill the drawers with flowers!

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Window boxes are a classic example of container gardening.

3f0949a8445a64118e488d0a9f001f76The biggest dilemma you will have is what mix to use. This is the part that makes me crazy. I love them all but don’t have enough spaces for every one.

Should I use one of everything?

2bb6f7088a66c9883709869047396517Or stick to one kind?

6967c4bff86fc55e559e9956b5db0190How about a simple blend?

5759f3c575f569a4045964e6fe120b70Or when in doubt, just go PINK!!

Whatever you choose to do, have fun and Happy Planting!

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Hollywood Style- TONY DUQUETTE

Several years ago, I was in a store in Palm Beach that was having a book signing along with an exhibition of some of the most unique one of a kind pieces of jewelry I have ever seen. They were beyond description. Rare, over sized gems set into the finest gold, with settings that resembled rays of sunlight. I was mesmerized by their colors and fine detailing. Who was the creator of such beauty?

The man was Tony Duquette (1914-1999)

f0a6b3700f5dd2790901794d94725ddbI was instantly obsessed with finding out everything I could about this incredibly talented person. I purchased the book which was signed by the author, Hutton Wilkinson (and also co-written by Wendy Goodman)3b1169ebfa4874b320babd23461bf10cDSC00362To my surprise, I learned that, not only was this man a celebrated jewelry designer, but he was a legend in the glory days of Hollywood. He was a set designer, a costume designer and was especially known for his “over the top” interior designs among the Hollywood and social elite.

The Duchess of Windsor was among his clientele and below is a photo of her wearing one of his custom necklaces.

13307e4e266903f94c1f719f2ebd46beHutton Wilkinson began working for Mr. Duquette while still a teenager. He also became a jewelry and interior designer. Mr. Wilkinson carries on the legacy of Tony Duquette Inc. and is president of the Elsie De Wolf Foundation. Elsie De Wolf, known as “the first Lady of Interior Decoration” is credited with discovering Tony Duquette.  She was completely in awe of his creations and in the 1940’s, Elsie gave him free rein to decorate her entire new home she purchased in Beverly Hills. The most famous result of this project was a custom made secretary that Tony had painted in black and green lacquer. It was heavily adorned with typical Duquette detailing and has come to be known as one of his finest works.ee27d6796fb21f6265209ff9bba8e24aTony’s creation were not just limited to inside the home. Tony and his wife “Beegle” owned a house which they named “Dawnridge”. Together they created an outdoor sanctuary with buildings and sculpture that were in typical Duquette style.

“Phoenix Rising from it’s Flames” was an illuminated sculpture standing twenty eight feet tall!

cb048cbd5c43ba1c9f4c3e544793155c“Spirit Houses” and gardens at Dawnridge

d68001c9ae911b0d811408dc96ef2b29 8f2b4c3ac8fb0eafc299bb6955661d91Over the years, Tony and Beegle would buy properties and turn each one into a fantasy land of creations inside and out. Each one would have a theme and the properties would take on lives of their own. Huge parties were held regularly; a who’s who of Hollywood always in attendance. The Duquettes were in such demand by the “A List”.

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43a43c2b6271aeb1d0cc96107a24f3b451f7873767e1f66750ed9378213f0a0a7595f5c1186668054ef7541912e738d4Tony started to gain a following in Europe, especially in Paris. He moved there at one point and earned the distinction of being the first American to exhibit a one- man show at the Louvre. Of course while living there, he indulged himself in the very ornate and grand details well known to the French.

67d8613c421fed05f5312966183e2792http://tonyduquette.com/doris_duke.htm3499ec0340b5d6ee7af08a178f62ac69dcce54466462734bb813d2e8620c7880Tony even received commissions in Venice

523a0857070f30c76953641db9f7e1a2794750d2ca1e40cc3543101a247347ebFollowing are more photographs of rooms that are wonderful examples of the over the top attention to detail and whimsical style of Mr. Duquette.

0f55b95d6eb00da9c946982c891dc2f48936dfd4e5c5d8e37df8a7304bbad739A room completely covered in shells…b18c557ab399ea34f85853cd056e7adaa749c507347df60cd71a9f93fefab6d2cd95a227ee6772d9e1f7d0e969d322db87f43a4a163b670884127976790340f1ed01cc928f50adb75adacba3409ceae4This happens to be my favorite space. True Art Deco at it’s absolute Hollywood glamorous best!

f5a391138b688536610569acfa726045This all purple room still is in style today.

b863fd7cab38a1cdb0dc1ec0f63ed4c2Coral and green4eb6158bae7ffa0d844859da13a6f93534cfb2e642f723952ab5369276b01883A powder room with faux bois trim and detail4e25f9dfcfc61f1e3cd4d0665a3e3a57A overhead view of an entrance. The chandelier was designed by Tony as well.

2f2fd2764466be71348abfe31f97cd2eAnd what would a post from me be without gilding, crytals and French antiques?? I love how the alabaster urns are lit from inside.

12350685ce116294f4a79284bd5116d2I must say, I am so glad I wandered into that store that very hot day! I had the pleasure of seeing and holding several pieces of Tony’s jewelry. I was lucky to have a piece of Hollywood history in my hands and to also discover the man who was the creator of it all. Tony Duquette is truly a design legend!

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E. Vogel Custom Boots and Shoes

In the Northeast, Show Season is right around the corner and I, for one, cannot wait!  For those who are lucky enough to be able to winter in Florida, equestrian competition is a year round adventure. For those who stay home, winter takes on a whole different meaning; Riding indoors, many different types of horse blankets, giving a haircut to a very large animal and lots of riding clothes to stay warm. This beautiful photo was taken at Outfoxed Farm in Chester N.Y. It is a perfect example of winter in the Northeast and how happy our horses are to be outside and play in the snow!  In this photo is “Sir Sunshine” (by Sir Donnerhall) enjoying his first winter in the states after being imported from Germany.549346_10151305086106471_335738511_nThis past weekend, I curled up in front of a fire and decided to catch up with all the magazines I subscribe to. To my delight, “Town and Country” magazine had an article on the E. Vogel Custom Boot and Shoe company, located at 19 Howard Street in New York City.

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What great timing! I started to envision myself putting on my show attire and waiting until the last minute when I get on my horse to slip into my very own custom made pair of Vogel boots.The history of the company is summarized in the following quote taken from their website-

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“E. Vogel Inc. was established in 1879 by Egidius Vogel in lower Manhattan very close to our present location. The tradition of highest quality has continued through the years with the 2nd generation Harold Vogel Sr. to the 3rd generation Jack and Hank (Harold Jr.) Vogel, and now the 4th Dean Vogel and his cousin Jack Lynch. Our boot and shoes are manufactured by the finest craftsmen in the world of the very best materials available.”

I have had my Vogel boots for about 20 years and I have been wearing them every year when I go to a competition. The workmanship is impeccable and their service the same. I have had very little work done except for having a full zipper put into the back of the boots. If you show, most of you can relate to the last minute rush of getting ready to go into the ring. For me, putting a full zipper meant easy on and easy off. In the past, I have actually thrown out my back wrestling with boot hooks and trying to force my feet into a too tight boot!

When showing, the dress code is very traditional, including the boots and they way they fit. Dressage boots vary in style from Field boots, as they have no laces at all. Dressage boots should also come up as high as the back of the knee when sitting in the saddle. The sides are higher to give the illusion of a very long, elegant leg while riding. The following photos are taken from Town and Country magazine and illustrate the style, elegance and quality that goes into every pair of boots Vogel makes. These are called “Field Boots”. Notice the laces. These are mostly used by English riders that prefer to jump fences or ride cross country.

001These are Dressage boots. They have no laces and are made to specifically make the riders leg stay firmly in place while giving the most subtle of “cues” to the horse. These particular boots have the zippers towards the inside calves. I prefer mine with the zipper in the back.

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Cousins Dean Vogel and Jack Lynch are the fourth generation of Vogels that are carrying on the tradition of fine made leather goods the company is known for. Vogel boots are the official supplier of the United States Equestrian Team and recently had the privilege of making the boots for Daniel Day Lewis for the movie “Lincoln”.

002This photo is a close up of a workbench at Vogel showing the detail of the tools used for their hand made artistry.

004The “breaking in” process of new boots is very important and can also be pretty painful. The boots are usually made taller than your own heel to calf height to allow for the leather to establish folds and allow the boot to drop to it’s actual height. The boots can dig into the back of the knee but the most “folding” is done behind the ankle and can be quite irritating. Band Aids are a must in the tack trunk when going to a show.

Wooden boot forms were a common way to store the boots in between use. I keep these on display in my entrance just for fun. Nowadays, plastic forms with springs and hangers are simpler and easier to use.

DSC00345Below are my very own pair of well worn Vogels.

DSC00342I have many great memories from wearing these boots! My fondest is probably when I won the Third Level Adult Amateur division when competing at Saratoga N.Y.

168011_180982311934454_3021959_nI cherish this photograph! My horse was “DeMarco” a 17 hand Danish Warmblood who taught me what a real Dressage horse can do. My smile is proof of my love for him.

These are some of my other favorite photos.

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This is a photo of years worth of ribbons hanging in my garage. Only a rider can justify the insane amount of money spent trying to win a ribbon as opposed to the sheer joy of just having the privilege of riding at all.

DSC00344To have such a large and beautiful animal allow you to sit on their back and experience such joy and trust is an experience everyone should know. I am so lucky and blessed to be one of those people.

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Charlotte Moss at Doyle Galleries NYC

DSC00337Today I had the pleasure of attending Doyle Galleries of New York for their Charlotte Moss auction. Outside the gallery was the Marquee just like a Broadway theater.DSC00338For those of you who don’t know about Charlotte please use this link http://charlottemoss.com/about-charlotte-moss/  and read about this very talented and philanthropic designer. She is such an asset to the design community as well as to the charities that she supports. Needless to say, when I saw the advertisement for this sale, I cleared my calender and was not going to miss it. (Even though a snowstorm was supposed to blanket the Metropolitan area last night but didn’t).  Doyle is located at 175 E87th St. in Manhattan. For me, it is a very easy drive right over the George Washington Bridge. My good friend and Decorative Painter, Ericka, met me at my house and we had a traffic free ride to the gallery. I guess people didn’t want to come out in the weather because it was not crowded.

DSC00335At Doyle, previews are held three days before the auction. If you want to inspect things closely, it is best to go because Doyle does not bring the items out that are up for bid. All items are shown by projection screen. Some items are in sight such as this assortment of fixtures that were hanging next to the seats.

DSC00330Underneath these fixtures are people who are taking phone and internet bids. I have never been to a gallery that had so many phones and computers running at one time. That certainly explained the lack of audience. Usually when an auction is empty, it is a good sign because the pricing tends to be lower. Today was an exception!  Whenever a famous name is attached to a sale, expect to pay more than usual. Today’s sale was the first time I have seen the purchase prices far exceed the estimated price.

This pair of Italian painted and Silver Gilt console tables brought in over $17,000.00

933063One of the best bargains of the day was this hand painted tole lantern. With the buyer’s premium (a commission fee a purchaser pays to the auction house) it was sold for less than $300.

933952I had my own personal wish list. I LOVED these painted, gilded and faux marble lamps.

933611They were sold for $4000.00, but not to me!

I also absolutely ADORED this pair of matching wall brackets with drawers. I could SO picture them in my guest room as night stands.

933781With an estimate of $600- $800, I thought they would be mine, but someone else brought them home for $2000. I was determined to hang in there because there were so many things I really liked and could make room for. I would have liked this trumeau, but already have too many.

932442This painting was so beautifully done in all grey tones. I’m kicking myself over it, because in my opinion it was a bargain for $800.933176This chandelier was hanging right over us. I thought maybe it was an omen!  Again, for the quality, size and condition it was well priced at $2000.933623The most entertaining part of the auction were these metal planters. A bidding war began from phone to phone and the pair were sold for $1000. However….934032They are 2 1/2″ high…. I wonder if the buyer realized that?

Another favorite of mine was this child’s bed. I am sure whoever bought it is using it for some very spoiled dog!

DSC00333I fell in love with this charming papier mache Chateau…933704and this set of yellow marble glazed faience..

934026Theses sconces were equally as charming.

934027So, when it came time for me to raise my paddle and not put it down until I declared victory, these are what I came home with…

A wrought iron piece that I will use as a window grill

934226a set of three beautiful French reverse glass paintings

933835_view 03_03933835_view 02_02933835And this great aged pair of pine doors with decorative iron inserts..

934198After the sale, there was an added bonus. The renowned Interior Designer Miles Redd held a signing for his new beautiful book,

“The Big Book of Chic”Redd It was a very successful day for all involved and I look forward to more adventures in design especially with my “sidekick” Ericka. Thanks for the croissant, my friend!

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Carolyn Quartermaine and “Trouvais”

Call me a late bloomer, but I won’t be offended. Basically every Design blogger in Cyber Space has already featured Carolyn Quartermaine and her fabrics, but it is now my turn. I want to share MY reason…

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In the world of Interior Design, there are trends and there are classics. As a designer, I have always succumbed to trends at the request of a client, but personally, I am a classic lover. If I am going to invest into a piece of furniture, a decorative object, or something as simple as a fabric, I want to know that I can live with it for a very long time. That is why I absolutely love the fabrics produced by Caroline Quartermaine.

carolyn_quartermaine_fabrics2Carolyn is based in London and produces the most beautiful line of painted silk fabrics. She has been around for quite some time, but it was only recently that I decided I wanted to incorporate her work into my new office. That is how I found my new blog friend Trish, owner and writer of the Design blog Trouvais. (http://trouvais.com/) One of Trish’s hobbies is collecting vintage fabrics. ( and what a collection!) I saw she was going to be selling some Quartermaine fabrics and I immediately contacted her. She sent me photos of what she had, and to my excitement there it was!!!!

downloadMy Holy Grail of Fabrics!! From the “Script Collection”, Trish had several cuts of the pink color!!  I have been trying for quite some time to locate this fabric to no avail. Trish barely finished her email to me before I could reply “I’ll take it”. I want to put it in the room with my newly covered settee.

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I am not sure what I will do with it yet, but I know I will use every little last scrap of it. Thank you again, Trish! You have made me very happy!

Following are some more photos of the collection “Script” all from Carolyn Quartermaine.

quartermaine6This is SOOOO beautiful!

8240_1287186825_5And I love the boldness of these. What a great accent to any room.mozart-carolyn-quartermaine-trouvaisThis is not the Script, but a floral. So simple and pretty. Notice behind the chairs the drapery is the Script, which is done on a sheer fabric instead of silk. Great for diffusing light, but not too heavy looking. I also wouldn’t mind owning the chairs.

PINK Chairs by Carolyn QuartermaineHere, the Script is printed onto a stripe. A gilded French settee wears it perfectly.

dscn30340001dscn3034Linen Script has been upholstered onto a simple Bergere for a more relaxed feel..

ReupholsterFrench CHairs Hild_0111_edited-1This is a well presented vignette with accessories. The musical theme fabric is another favorite of mine.

CQ fabric detailA close up of one of the fabrics that has been enhanced by additional brush strokes in complimentary colors, enables you to see the details.

Carolyn Quartermaine's script fabric web I would love to do this sheer pattern on my windows. It is so feminine, simple and elegant.

VqL1ENO9Ilg525zoXqNbwn2qo1_500The same fabric in a different color with coordinating fabrics..bw-giant-lace-french-script-and-signature-scriptTo get the full effect, you may refer back to my post “PINK”. As the house progresses, I cannot wait to actually be photographing everything as it is meant to be in each room. It is said “patience is a virtue”, so for someone who has very little, I SO look forward to that day!

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A Promise to Myself

First of all I am so happy to say “Goodbye February, Hello March!”

When I moved into the house I live in, I was 20 years younger. That means two falls from a horse, broken vertebrae and ribs later;  four days a week of tennis and bum elbow later;  a bad fall from a bike and bad knee later, and other various ailments that I have come to know as “aging”. Before all these ailments another one of my passions was gardening. This is an example of a garden I created from scratch, including breaking the stone and fitting it like a mosaic.260_1023623995717_4305_nThis garden still exists but is so overgrown with ivy and weeds. At the height of my gardening hobby, we even built a beautiful shed to house my vast collection of gardening tools.

260_1023623955716_3951_nAnd of course our many auction trips always included some kind of statuary to bring home.260_1023623795712_2606_nI even rigged a wall fountain but it didn’t work too well, so i planted in it instead.

260_1023623875714_3283_nI planted ivy in the hopes of it trailing up the house just like all the old Chateaux in France.

260_1023623555706_578_nWhat a mistake that was! I didn’t know that it is because of a million ants that the ivy will stick and it is next to impossible to remove, but still, I loved the way it looked.

I couldn’t wait for the sunrise every day. I loved to feel the morning dew on my feet, the warmth of the sun, and a full day’s work of pruning, planting, mulching, digging and watering.

The end of the day reward was dinner served outside while admiring my work. And the best part??? I didn’t ache the next day. So now that we have decided to move , I thought I would plan a smaller house with a yard that is low maintenance.

Property purchased, building started, and the excitement began.100_8811Things were progressing nicely..100_8926Then came that sick feeling that something wasn’t right…Rule #1 about building and contracting a house?  NEVER LOSE CONTROL and never relinquish control completely to anyone.

Building a new home is the ultimate form of babysitting. You MUST be detail oriented and you MUST be at the site every day to oversee every nail and board that is put in place. If one thing is done incorrectly, the rest of the process suffers. Unfortunately, this has been our scenario. After many discrepancies in sizes, dimensions and mistakes, we came to the sickening conclusion. We had hired and had paid what equaled about a years worth of Ivy League tuition to an architect that proved to be unprepared to carry out such a simple project. Our job was now under review from our building board. In English??? No more construction to be done until said problems are corrected to their approval. My beautiful custom hand hewn pine trusses have endured several snowstorms, ice, rain and wind gusts.

IMG-20121205-00303Trying to be positive and unselfish, I thought about all my friends that lost their homes to the ground from hurricane Sandy, and don’t have a place to go. As I watched them persevere I would do the same.

Damage control has been expedited. New Architect, new site manager, all new bids and all new attitude. I WILL finish this house and WILL have it the way we dreamed, however one thing has definitely changed….

I want the BIGGEST perennial garden I could ever imagine. I will be SO happy to be outside again in the warm sun and wake up to a rainbow of pink, purple, blue and white flowers blooming in front of me as I sip my morning coffee from my stone patio. I will have roses..

special_pink_roses-1280x800david-austin-pink-roseI will have every color of hydrangeas possible!

hydrangeas-1Hydrangeas_bushI will have peonies..

peonies3pink-peonies-cDelphiniums..th8798305484830Hollyhocks in every shade..Hollyhocks1HollyhocksAnd of course, Lavender!

20100824lavenderlavenderI will be so happy and content to be outside again, smell the different aromas and enjoy the beauty of nature once again.

It has been a two year process so far and I keep telling myself to hang in there because it will be worth every moment. I might not go so far as to be using the hedge trimmer , or climbing on ladders to prune magnolia trees, but I will be elated to prune flowers and have them proudly on my table for my guests to enjoy while visiting! Hopefully that day is not that far away.

LIFE IS GOOD!

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