Friday, May 28, 2010

Shady Situation

A little bit of randomalia (a term borrowed from Maxminimus.) I have made the rounds of several drug emporiums and blond colored pony tail holders seem to be scarce. Are they being rationed? Kansas City has its fair share of fair haired, both natural and bottle babies, but I've never run across a shortage like this.

In addition, Mr. Goody, there is little value in this that I can see. Unless you are the Bradley sisters (surely you remember Betty Jo, Bobbie Jo and Billie Jo) I can think of no household that needs blond, brown and black elastics. White seems like a questionable decision in any situation.

As an aside, the premise for Petticoat Junction was based on stories from creator Paul Henning's wife who visited a hotel owned by her family in Eldon, Missouri; even I did not know this until checking the spelling on the girls' names.

Book Worm

Not that I endorse buying books for decoration, these two sets have an appeal that is difficult to deny. Those faded blue linen covers. Like your best jeans on good day.

And these. I can't remember exactly, but I think they relate to engineering. Primers on railroad locations and such.

Both sets available at the River Market Antique Mall. Second floor, northeast corner I think. Far right as you come up the stairs.

Grand Masters

Click on over to see who Elle Decor has named to their Grand Masters list. I can't argue with a single pick. Indeed, many are long-time favorites. Oh, and two of the nine are Kansas City natives, including the dashing Tom Britt, whose work appears above. Here.

Image courtesy of Elle Decor by Peter Vitale.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mrs. Shackelford Lives for a Day

Did you see Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day? Yes, the sets are enchanting. Yes, the story is romantic. But the story, the story is basic. Guinevere knows what she knows to be true. Change your name, change your circumstance, change your clothes, but you know what you know and you are who you are and, ultimately, love prevails. Or it should. My loves this week are having a field day, are having a party, are having a life and I am along for the ride.

I need, at least, a smidge of a break.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Dog Year

"We're celebrating our twentieth anniversary this year, what about you guys?"

He: Eighteen

"Oh, that's great. I can't believe it's been eighteen years."

She: (aside) Is that right? Are you sure?

He: You're hilarious. 1992.

She: Blank stare. A blink. She loathes math.

He: That's eighteen years. In October.

She: What? Not eighteen until this October? It seems longer. It seems nineteen at least.

He: Well, the last year has been like a dog year.

And she took solace in the fact that he still made her laugh every day of how ever many years it had been, even though she hoped when they looked back on this last one they would find it was among the worst.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Drinks Are On Me

I've just heard back from the folks at John Stefanidis and you can order the drinks tray directly from them. $400, delivery about three weeks from your order. Just in time for cocktails by the pool.

Oh! And the lampshades, in case you were wondering, were made by Tindle Lighting in the UK.

Tin Man

Another captivating little detail of Stefanidis's house that I noticed in An Island Sanctuary is the metal shades.

Sometimes painted a snappy color.

Sometimes not.
Always so crisp. And durable, or so Mr. Stefanidis says.

Besides the metal shades, for which I could not find a good source so forward one if you have it, I'm mad for this drink tray.

So much better than carrying a bottle in each hand, the cocktail napkins under your arm and opening the door with your elbow. Chic. Make mine blue. (A change from black or white; maybe things are looking up.)

For really wonderful coverage of An Island Sanctuary; A House in Greece, make sure you don't miss Courtney Barnes's posts on the book here.

Top five images from An Island Sanctuary; A House in Greece by John Stefanidis, Rizzoli. Photography by Fritz von der Schulenberg. Last image from Stefanidis's site. I'm trying to find out where one can purchase the drinks tray.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Last week I had a Bee buzzing in my in-box, "Where is that Teddy Millington-Drake post?" There wasn't one, isn't one, really, though Miguel Flores-Vianna had mentioned M-D in his Enduring Style post.

After I searched the blog for the link I searched the bookshelf for An Island Sanctuary; A House in Greece. The book is the story of John Stefanidis's home in Greece which he shared with the late Teddy Millington-Drake.

I pulled it out again, thinking of maybe sending it to Bee for her own hive. It's a beautiful book, and I enjoyed it at first glance, but there is only so much room after all. When I looked through again, in a different place than last time I suppose, I was captivated by how much craft filled the house.

Millington-Drake was an artist and the canvases, top, are his work. But he also created those wonderful, graphic porcelain plates which seem quite happy to live in the same spot as the place settings of Flora Danica.

In nearly every room there are hand-embroidered pillows and linens, locally hand-made furniture and decoratively painted surfaces.

But certainly none of this seems kitch. While the interiors are spare they are rich in the details that have been hand crafted. Alas, poor Bee, not stung I hope to have to buy her own copy (she did.) I need this one close at hand.

If for nothing else, this post script. A small image, the last in the book, of chairs that Stefanidis's sister stitched for his London home. Four scenes from his island idyll.

And this:

As Best You Can

Even if you cannot make your life the way you want,

try this, at least,

as best you can: do not demean it

by too much contact with the crowd

by too much movement and idle talk.

Do not demean it by dragging it along,

by wandering all the time and exposing it

to the daily foolishness

of social relations and encounters,

until it becomes an importunate stranger.

C.P. Cavafy (Translated by Evangelos Sachperoglous)

All images from An Island Sanctuary; A House in Greece, by John Stefanidis, published by Rizzoli. All images are by Fritz von der Schulenberg, but the last which is Graham Seager.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I've seen this Jonathan Adler pillow twice recently. Once here, in Bazaar, on Giorgio Guidotti's stylish sofa and once in the guest bedroom of a friend.

Here we go, more black and white, I know, but this might be in order for the Blandings' kitchen sofa.

Clicking over I got sucked into the "custom" feature of Adler's pillows, rugs and totes. (Hmmm.... could this wwwandering have something to do with not getting traction?) While not a totally cheap date, you can customize the front and back so you can double your creative pleasure.
Nothing to stop you but your imagination and, perhaps, a lurking boss. I don't have one, a boss I mean, so I could click and create at will.

You could cook up a little something for yourself or your child or a friend. Pretty darn cute baby or hostess gift.

Jonathan Adler thinks Mrs. Blandings is j'adorable and gave me tons of free swag to write this. Oh wait, no. No, he didn't actually, though he was very nice and said, "hi" at the gift show last year. I do all this craziness for free. Just in case you were wondering.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Don't miss the Edward Steichen exhibit at the Nelson that is opening Saturday. This is not one for the kiddies (though Egypt certainly is) but better with a like-minded someone. Like someone who minds fashion or jewelry or celebrities or photography.

These photos are from Steichen's Conde Nast years (1923 - 1937) and while he had made a name for himself in the art world, a divorce, the resulting need for cash and a muddled outlook (see how this all seems random, but is actually like pearls on a string?) made Conde Nast's offer to be the chief photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair look like a good gig.

The exhibit is beautifully installed and you can see Steichen's quick transition away from the dreamy techniques of his predecessor, Adolph de Meyer, to a crisper, cleaner and more dramatic style. Less gray. More black and white.

As those of us who take an interest in interiors have at least a passing acquaintance with fashion and art, the exhibit will have broad appeal. While most of the shots have striking backdrops a few claim Conde Nast's or Helena Rubinstein's apartment as their settings. And they are something to see. Even a clothes dummy like me stared in awe at the talent of Chanel and Schiaparelli. Did I mention the jewelry?

Saturday the 15th through July 25th. I'm also planning on attending Chanel and Her Rivals: Fashion in the Age of Steichen on June 12th from 1 - 2 by fashion historian Dr. Valerie Steele of FIT. April Watson, the Associate Curator of Photography at the Nelson, gave the tour yesterday and I think you would enjoy her presentation as well. She'll speak Friday, June 18th from 7 -8 on Steichen's influence on fashion and glamour.

While admission to the Nelson is always free, and most of the exhibits are as well, this is a ticketed exhibit for non-members. $8 for adults, $5 for students. For more information on the exhibit and all the events, click here.

This exhibit has been organized by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Minneapolis; and the Musee de l'Elysee, Lausanne; in collaboration with The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Mo. The exhibit here is supported by the Campbell-Calvin Fund and Elizabeth C. Bonner Charitable Trust for exhibitions. All images Edward Steichen and all are copyright Conde Nast Publications. From top, Joan Crawford wearing Schiaparelli, 1932; Lee Miller wearing a dress by Jay-Thorpe and a necklace by Marcus, 1928; Marlene Dietrich, 1934; Gary Cooper, 1930 and Ilka Chase, 1933. I have scanned the images so a few are cropped differenly than the originals.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Go Away Gray

Everything seems muddled. Nothing is quite coming into focus which makes it hard to act and I am very bad at waiting. Letting the universe reveal itself to me has never been a strong point.

So when I had coffee today with a very wise woman I was hoping she would be something of a lens. What she told me surely, with steady gaze and firm conviction, was that it is good to try new things. And that not everything goes as expected. And sometimes that is better. When I asked direct questions she just shook her head slightly and said, "I don't know; you'll find out." And we moved on.

Literally and figuratively back to her house where she very generously loaned me some books. Self-help? Philosophy? Poetry? No. Needlepoint books. Vintage needlepoint books. Needlepoint has always brought comfort in process and in plumpness and these books have offered more comfort than piles of eider down quilts.

"Black and white mark the outer limits in tonal value. There is nothing darker than black nor lighter than white. When the two are used together they generate more visual excitement than two shades of gray used together. The closer the tonal value the greater the loss of contrast, therefore the greater the loss of drama and excitement.."

I'm not a girl for gray and muddled. Universe, bring on the black and white, the drama and excitement.

All this beautiful work is by Stephen Knollenberg who was featured in the May/June issue of Chicago Home + Garden. These images are used with Mr. Knollenberg's permission from his site. Photography is as follows: top three, Beth Singer, next two, Gordon Beall and last, Dana Hoff. The quote is Maggie Lane from Needlepoint by Design.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Read Em or Weep

I meant to do a Mother's Day post. It had been bouncing around in my head even though I think Mother's Day is something of a Hallmark holiday. (Not that I have anything against Hallmark; we are not a one-horse town around here, but if you come to look over our stables you'll see that Hallmark is something of a Clydesdale. Now I'm mixing Missouri metaphors, as Clydesdales are associated with Busch which is headquartered on the Eastern side of the state.)

In any event (or holiday), I've had Mark Hampton, An American Decorator and The Great Lady Decorators, The Women Who Defined Interior Design, 1870 - 1955 (because every good book needs a nifty subtitle) sitting on my desk/bedside table for about a month.

I wanted to suggest, in the post that wasn't, that you should buy both of these books for any design aficionado on your list or yourself if you are so inclined. As a pair they would make a mother of a gift, or at least I think so as one of the most interesting parts of this blog odyssey has been to learn more about design history.

I would hate for someone who is firmly entrenched in the designers of the day to think these books have no relevance. I think you will see the influence of these past decorators and perhaps be inspired as well.

As for aforementioned designers of the day, take note. Those names of decorators past which trip so easily from our tongues are likely to have tomes of their own. The book is the thing. Pity me who can enjoy volume upon volume of Dorothy Draper, but must make do with a few glimpses of Ruby Ross Wood, leaving me to toss and turn over what I must have missed. A page or two here, a page or two there (including 251 of Regency Redux, and if you don't own that one, you need it as well - now I have spent your lunch money for the month) is not nearly enough.

You've been warned. Regardless of your talent - publish or perish.

Images from top, Mark Hampton by Duane Hampton, Rizzoli, photography by Scott Frances; Michael S. Smith, Houses, with Christine Pittel, Rizzoli, no photography given for this image; The Great Lady Decorators, design by Rose Cumming, photography by Wendy Hilty; Ruthie Sommers via her site,; The Great Lady Decorators, Rizzoli, design by Madeleine Castaing, photography by Antoine Bootz; Miles Redd via

I received The Great Lady Decorators and Mark Hampton from Rizzoli and maybe Regency Redux as well; I'm a little foggy.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Masochistic Tendencies

Boys, as it has been said, will be boys. A lot of the time, left to their own devices, they are like puppies. Or lion cubs. Their play is rough. They say it is good natured, but I wonder. As the days have been warmer and longer my boys have been playing outside more and have taken up a game that they devised that is appropriately called, "Wrestle 'til You Cry." We have met new neighbors because their young cubs have pointed in the direction of "Wrestle 'til You Cry" and said, "I want to go over there." My long time friend and across-the-street neighbor said with a shrug, "We called it "Uncle." Same thing."

"Does that seem like a good idea?" say I, the continuing voice of feminine unreason,"playing a game where the stated result is pain?"

"We like it."

Decorno began about the same time as Mrs. Blandings. I don't know the blog author so I will not begin to speculate why she has stopped blogging, but I have been stalking the comments section of her last post. I think it's interesting how often her readers, while lamenting their loss, mention their regard for her in relation to other blogs. Other blogs which they appear to loathe.

When I read the Kansas City Star, it makes me a little crazy to see the simpering smile of a certain columnist. It doesn't make me crazy enough to, say, write the paper and complain, "I hate that woman and her narrow views and it ruins my coffee to know that my subscription helps pay for her syndication." But it could.

But blogs are delivered to us voluntarily. We go there. And I say "we" because I do it myself. I read a couple of blogs that make me absolutely nuts. Then I rant to Mr. Blandings about them and he says, "So stop reading it." But I don't seem to be able to. There's something about it that I must like.

That's my question today, and I fear I am going to regret asking it, but

Why do we read blogs we hate?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Off the Rack - Chicago Home + Garden

It's always fun to pick up regional magazines. Chicago Home + Garden offered up several treasures including these Lina Nordqvist chairs and this Marie-Louise Gustafsson lamp. All graphic and great and reasonably priced. The Nordqvist chairs come in a pale finish as well if you do believe that blondes have more fun. And the lamp? It seems to me as if it is looking over your shoulder to make sure you carried the one.


Current Anthropologie catalogue - anyone know where it was shot?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Thoroughly Modern Tommy

Amidst the nuttiness of last week I packed up and headed to Chicago for twenty hours. Part of the fun of visiting Chicago from here is that the flight is an hour-and-a-half. That's not even quite enough time for me to get hungry.

Thomas O'Brien is just as appealing in person as you would imagine him to be. It's difficult to describe someone who is so passionate and so unassuming at the same time. There's an energy there, but it's easy.

O'Brien said a lot of things about design and collecting and living a thoughtful life. Every thing was modern once. Rather than collecting deeply, perhaps it is just as interesting to buy the one, one, piece that you admire the most. And, he likes laundry. Like, really, really likes laundry. He'd rather stay home and do laundry than go out. We may have to agree to disagree on this one.

But don't take my word for it, hear him for yourself. O'Brien will be speaking about design and his new book, American Modern in the following cities:

June 10, New York, Hickory Chair at the New York Design Center

And, for those of you who are bloggers or regular blog readers, Marija is a delight and Magnaverde is a prince. A genius prince. Also, just as you would expect.

The image, above, is from House Beautiful, February 1994. Photographer Laura Resen took the picture. Resen was the photographer for the houses in the book and also a damsel in distress whom O'Brien saved from the big bad wolf in line at art school. As for the title, O'Brien mentioned in his talk that his father called him Tommy; it is not meant to imply that I do.

Monday, May 3, 2010

At Last

I had the opportunity to set up early for Dining by Design so I rattled around in a mostly empty enormous exhibit hall unloading my stuff from rolling suit cases.

It all worked out beautifully as I was able to get everything finished, pick up the boys from school and have a normal dinner before I left for Chicago Friday morning.

It was great fun to watch the designers constructing their backdrops and creating their vignettes. Styrofoam looked like stone and store displays seemed like antiques as these incredible creative minds transformed stuff to fantasy.

My friend, Mrs. Kerr, whipped up a table cloth from remnants of Le Lac that I had from my living room curtains. The dinner plates are my china, Herend's Golden Edge, topped by yellow fretwork dishes from World Market. Chinese medallion plates on loan from Linda Hancock Antiques are the icing on the cake and I do wish these were in my private collection.

Sharyn Blond generously loaned me ten black linen napkins and I have to saw when you feel high quality linen you realize that there is such a difference; it is worth every penny. While I used Tiffany Bamboo on my dream table two years ago, this flatware is from World Market as well. The bone handled knives are mine as is all of the glass ware. The glasses are a mix of crystal, bud vases that can be found at any big craft store and the red glasses that I scrounged from two different booths at the River Market Antique mall and Blackwell's, a treasure trove of a thrift shop on 63rd.

When I realized that any lamp I own would look like doll house furniture in this space I made an emergency plea to AJ at Barbara Cosgrove Lamps. "I think the black glass pillars would be so sexy," and she was right. They finished the space beautifully.

The table was pretty, while some were spectacular, but the best part of the evening was the people who were with us. As is always the case.

I did not take pictures of other tables (as my photography would not do them justice) but will post some as the become available. Fellow Kansas City blogger, David at Midwestern Malaise, snapped a few and you can see them here. Also, I believe the plates from World Market are at the tail end of their run; there are some in stores, but they are not on-line.