Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Speaking of hot men, I've been hounding David Jimenez, above, for pictures of his table from Kansas City's Dining by Design.

He's busy I know. VP Visual Merchandising and Store Design for Hallmark Cards, writing for Spaces, volunteering, being fabulous, it all takes time.

Right before the event he had emailed me to say he was worried about the table.

I never was, though I knew he was under a lot of pressure; his tables for the last few years have been knockouts.

This year was no exception.

David and his cohort and co-hostess, Merrily Jackson, above left, can always be counted on to throw a terrific party.

Mr. Blandings, he's the hottie on the left, and I, not the gorgeous number on the right, had a wonderful time.

Of course I was nearly speechless as the table linens were one of my favorite colors ever. Actually, that's not true as I am never even nearly speechless, but I was certainly enchanted.

The entire evening was a confection and we were oh-so-lucky to be a part of it.

Post script. Here I am with our own home grown Tom Ford look-alike Phil Scaglia. I do seem to gravitate to dark and dreamy.

Visual treats by David Jimenez, edible treats by Natasha's Mulberry & Mott, top images of both by Patrick Binder; last image by Gary Fabro.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pop Quiz - Tom Ford and Richard Buckley

Michael called this at 10:58 p.m. yesterday, "This is Tom Ford's apartment!"

Indeed. In Paris. Published in House and Garden January, 1998 and featured in HG's Book of Style, the photos are by Todd Eberle.

The images from this morning are from the book; these are additional shots from the magazine.

After looking at 120 apartments before they settled on this one, chosen for its fifteen foot ceilings and view of the Seine, they decided to keep "the pastry."

Clean but sensual, the home has a clear masculine aesthetic with the lucky distinction of having Gucci leather left-overs as upholstery.

Let's do take a moment to admire Mr. Ford, a fine design himself. Every bad decision I ever made had brown eyes like that.

Image of Tom Ford borrowed from the Fashionisto.

Pop Quiz - 9

For those of you who are new, or newish, to Mrs. Blandings every now and again I spring a pop quiz.

Culled from a burgeoning file of vintage tear sheets are images that I put up on the screen then give you half a day or so to guess the designer.

Eventually I will be back to let you know if anyone has guessed it and if not I'll offer up the answer.

This may be more obvious than I think.

The curve of this mantle looks like a glimpse of a woman's leg just stepping into the frame. And the jumble of books breaks the severity of the rest of the room. Why do I fear that this same picture today would feature all spines in?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fabric Obsession

In the bag of fabric samples that I keep because there are some things with which I cannot part lives Lee Jofa Pardah Print in Sable. I'm glad to see he's seeing the light of day here.

Photograph by Francesco Lagnese in House Beautiful, July 2009. Interior design by Jonathan Berger for Heather Evans.

Cut and Paste

I swing widely from firm resolution that only really good things should come into the house

and the desire to do things like cut urns out of magazines and pin them to the wall.

From the San Francisco home of Brett Landenberger and Scott Watterman, House and Garden, February 1991. Photograph by Tim Street-Porter.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Reliable Rosie

Everyday, like Scooby Doo when he sees the villain in the rubber mask, Rosie accordions the rug in the front hall when the mail carrier arrives. Everyday.

And everyday I straighten it out while she dashes through the house, hits the lever on the back door, runs around to the gate and barks until he gives her a dog biscuit. Every. Single. Day.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On Target

I keep a stash of plastic cups in a low cabinet so when the boys groan, "Mom, I'm thirsty!" I can say, "Then you should fix yourself a drink!" We were running low (not sure how these go missing) and I happened upon these at Target this week. They are hard plastic - dishwasher safe and all that. I really like them. The boys don't get it.

Target also has these in melamine which I also found charming. Here I showed restraint as I am enjoying my melamine plates from La Plates. Hmmm...the smaller size would be fun to mix in and might get me off the hood for snack fixing, too.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Not Tonight, I Have a Headache

I sat, yesterday, in a firm chair in a tidy waiting room at 8:30 in the morning to see a neurosurgeon. I was dressed up, or dressed up from my usual costume, as I was quite unsure what one should wear when one finds out if a tumor has come to live in one's brain.

So I sat, white linen pleated skirt, white sleeveless cotton crew, gold ballet flats. No pearls as that seemed overdone. I was the first one there. Over the next thirty minutes or so a few other people trickled in. A summer intern appeared in short white coat inquiring where he should be. No one knew, but vowed to find out, and he sat behind me and I wondered if he were similarly disappointed that the magazines were dated and he had also not brought something to read.

I nearly always have something to read in situations like this, but rather than bringing a book I had instead brought a large white envelope containing a large shaded film. When the technician had handed me the envelope on Friday it was unsealed. When I got to the car I pulled it out and held it up to the sunlight coming through the window. I had somehow overlooked learning to read CAT Scans and this skill seemed significant as I squinted in the steamy car. At the very least there did not appear to be any goose egg sized masses resting in the nest that is my brain. I slid the film back into the envelope and eventually dropped it on my dining room table where it stayed surrounded by silky swim ribbons for the rest of the weekend.

I ran into the neurosurgeon who had ordered the scan at a very swank affair on Saturday night. My dress was something of a Grecian number that required a shocking amount of adhesive to ensure that my body stayed where it was supposed to be, mainly inside the dress. As we passed each other in the crowd he said, "Did you get the scan?" "Of course." "Do you have it with you?" "Um. No." But I was immediately reassured that if I were to receive the news that I had a brain tumor I would like it to be from this person who was willing to look at a scan in the stifling parking garage of the museum whilst wearing a tuxedo.

I confess that I had a passing acquaintance with the aforementioned surgeon. I was quite sure my headaches (truly, one headache that has lasted for almost three weeks) were quite ordinary. When they (it) started I concluded that I needed to get my eyes checked. Sometime soon. When I had time. When the children did not have me running to and fro. Mr. Blandings was quite sure I was spending too much time at my computer. Perhaps. Then, Friday, I awoke to find my left thigh was numb. Which was puzzling. It seemed like a good idea to go...somewhere, but I wasn't sure where to start.

It is one of the unfortunate facts of life that sometimes it's not what you know but who you know and sometimes a particular who helps things along considerably. I left a message for the surgeon, a fringe friend at best, timidly asking for a referral. "Hate to be a bother - completely understand if you don't get back to me." Because, you know, he's not driving people back and forth to the pool; he's cutting into brains. But of course he is a nice man and he called back and said something like this, "What you're proposing is a bottom up method of finding out why you are having headaches. What I'm proposing is a top down method. Let's get a CAT Scan or an MRI today and rule out all the really bad stuff and work from there."

Today. That seemed sudden. Serious. And then I was overwhelmed by being in a no-win situation. I either had something really wrong with me, or I was greatly inconveniencing several people to find that I am high-maintenance. Which is the last thing that I want to be but fear that I am. The later was better than the former but still incredibly bad form. "No, no. Completely not necessary." "Are you claustrophobic?" "Horribly." "CAT Scan. Hold on while I connect you with scheduling." Oh.

A few days later I sat in his waiting room with nothing to read, my scan in the possession of the nice woman behind the desk. Three people entered and sat down opposite me. A woman and her husband and her grown son. As they sat down the husband asked the wife, "Do you want me to come in with you?" "Yes. And write things down. And ask questions." Then they went on to talk about a friend's new truck, Father's Day and a couple of other family members who were making questionable decisions. The intern and I both sat silently.

The waiting room was startlingly large. When I turned my head to the right trying to keep my mind on anything other than my mind, I noticed that there were a series of photographs by a woman I wrote about several months ago. The coincidence made me feel oddly connected to the space, as if someone there and I had something in common. The husband began to twist the lid against the styrofoam body of his empty coffee cup. Squelch. Squelch. Squelch. Pause. And then again until his wife gave him a not-unkind look and he got up to throw it away.

The elevator dinged again and two women and boy in a wheelchair went to wait at the counter. He was significantly disabled with one arm held at an extreme angle. As the women talked with the receptionist he began to make a rhythmic humming noise that sounded like my phone when it vibrates on a hard surface. One of the women glanced back, retrieved lip balm from her bag and applied it to his lips then turned back to finish her discussion. The humming stopped. "You can take him back to the second door on the left."

"Patricia?" My turn. "He'll be right in." Oprah, finally, covered in pups had been hiding here in the exam room. After a brief wait, the doctor entered. We exchanged pleasantries about the party. "We'll look at the scan in just a minute." Then he had me push his hands with mine and then resist in the same manner. This underscored the amount of things I do not know and highlighted the fact that simple is sometimes best. It also occurred to me that this might be some kind of neurosurgeon humor, "Ha! They never question the push-the-hand thing. They always just go along with it. Knuckleheads."

Then he flipped on the lighted board and flicked the film into the top of it as I have seen doctors do a million times on television. "Well. No tumor. It's a good looking brain, actually. Quite young." Excellent. My brain, at least, will not need double sided tape to keep it where it is supposed to be. At least for a while. I stood up as he was starting to point at things (as I am determined to learn to read CAT Scans so as never to be in this position again) and discovered my sinuses are a mess. Also, stress may be playing a role in the headaches, which was not a surprise.

While relieved, there was not that wave of release you might expect. I was still hung-up on the knowledge that life changes direction in an instant for bad and for good. And mostly the side that we see is the side that puts on the ball gown or linen skirt and buys the coffee and applies the lip balm. Life's smooth exterior. As I hurried back through the waiting room so as not to be late for swim practice pick-up I glanced back and was struck again by its significance.

Image, top, by Cali Hobgood-Lemme.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Beach Fantasy

I originally scanned these images in September of 07.

I have always wanted a beach house.  For someone who doesn't like to go outside, I really like to be at the beach.

This house spoke to me from the first time that I saw it - and calls again each time I run by it in my files.  There are some really lovely pieces of furniture here, but it is still beachy and relaxed.

This cottage is on the beach in East Hampton; it was built by Sara and Gerald Murphy.  

You probably know that the Murphys made summer in the Riveria chic, by some accounts invented sun bathing, were the inspiration for the Divers in Tender is the Night and on and on.

Wealthy and generous, they were gracious hosts and it seems they were less interested in gathering the glitterati of their day around them so much as their magnetism drew others into their orbit.

Chafing by the confines of New York society they moved to Paris and traveled about Europe with their three children.  They returned to New York so Gerald could take over a failing family business, the well-known leather goods store, Mark Cross.

The youngest two children, both boys, died young, but their sister Honoria (seen here at age nine dripping in diamonds) lived a long life and continued to summer on property that was originally her grandparents'.

I believe the home pictured in the top seven images is "the Pink House."  It is the only home the Murphy's built and they originally named it "the Little Hut."  Honoria gave it its later name.

The Murphys built the house on the property of Sara Murphy's family estate in the 1950's.  Sara and Gerald eventually had the "big bad house" (as Gerald called it) torn down as they could neither rent nor sell it.  Before building the Little Hut they renovated the dairy barn and christened it "Swan Cove."

I've given a hint of what a golden couple they were.  There is tons on the web, books and magazines to keep you busy for a summer if you choose.

One book, Living Well is the Best Revenge, was titled from a favorite Spanish proverb that Gerald quoted.  But his daughter's interpretation is a bit different than the assumed one, "It was really that my father would seek the simplest thing, like the shop that had the nicest peaches.  It didn't mean spending a lot of money necessarily." 

I think the essence of that sentiment is what draws me again and again to this house.  That and the unbelievable light.

The top seven images from House Beautiful, August 2006 design by Valerie Smith.  Photographs by Miki Duisterhof and Don Freeman.  The bottom five are from House and Garden February, 1992.  The image second from bottom is Gerald at Yale; the last is his interpretation of a feed bag for Mark Cross.  Other pictures of the home before it sold appear here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Toad to the Rescue

It's hot.  Hot and humid.  Shade offers little relief except from the sting of the sun.  The boys think the air conditioner is "broken" while I know it is straining to keep up and I am praying it does not throw in the towel and say, "I quit!" as it is not the kind of expense we would relish right now.

But sometimes there are surprises as refreshing as a scoop of peppermint ice cream that take the edge right off.  I'm ever so grateful to Toad, a true prince among men, for sending me a copy of Legendary Decorators of the Twentieth Century by Mark Hampton.  I've flipped through once and can see it will become a mainstay for the library and the perfect excuse to stay inside this afternoon.  

Many thanks, dear Toad.

Image, above, from the book.  It is a watercolor by Hampton of a room by Albert Hadley.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Me and Mrs. Jones

With the recent demise of the esteemed blog House of Beauty and Culture I had to pause and consider why its author would cease to find joy in something that was offering so much of that elusive stuff to me.  

And like all kinds of loss it made me stop and wonder when the day would come when I would pull the plug.  Honestly, it's hard to imagine blogging indefinitely.  Hmmm..."Well, I've been blogging for twenty-eight years and..."  No.  Unlikely.

And as a great over-thinker I had to wander the path of, "Why in the heck am I doing this anyway?"

For me the answer remains the same as the day I started almost two years ago.  The exchange.  The conversation.  The connection.

Often the connection takes place with another blogger, but it happens, too, to sometimes flourish with a reader.  You exchange a few emails, you get to know each other a little better.  You might even fill in some of the more personal details.

And then one day her house appears in a local magazine and you marvel at her mix and unbelievable color sense.  And you just want to email her the password and say, "Your turn."

You can read the article from the May/June 2009 issue of Kansas City Home Design here.  Photography by Landon Collis.

Monday, June 15, 2009

In the Closet

Jennifer Boles of the Peak of Chic did a great post last week on the design equivalent of lipstick.  She's layering her home with thoughtful touches that are both stylish and budget friendly.  She asked her readers what their "lipstick purchases" have been.

Mine have been paint.  When we bought the dream house we had a little bit of time between closings so we freshened up our new home with paint.  The painters did not think they would have enough time to finish before we moved in so I pleaded, "What if you didn't do the closets?  Would that save enough time?"  Yes, agreed, no closets.  A happy compromise and, as I like to paint, I thought I'd do them myself.

Nearly nine years later I had completed one.  Five years ago I painted the big boys' closet while they were skiing with Mr. Blandings.  But right before school let out I took on the front hall closet.  It was supposed to be papered with the same paper as the front hall, but had been forgotten.  Nine years ago.

I don't usually like pink for myself but I was having a hankering.  The first shade was horrific, but the next, while vibrant, was just what I was after.  Then, just following an exchange with another blogger about the current wave of Draperesque design not holding up, both of us nodding our heads at our computer screens, I Dorothy-ed the ceiling.  I was inspired by a couple of pieces I'd seen in Joe Nye's showroom in New York.

I've been thinking about these butterflies for a while.  Once completed I decided they were too dense, but I suppose my perspective was skewed as I was on a ladder in a very tiny space.  Also, I think a new globe is in order but I've been far too busy running my ridiculously-indulged children around to pick one up.  Which will also be the excuse I use for not painting the remaining four un-touched closets for at least three more months.