Monday, November 30, 2009

In The Woodland

Whose woods are these? I think I know. I have been here before, almost one year ago, if my memory serves. Silently standing all together, as a flock of elegant birds with feathers of fir - shoulders touching, wings folded - this woodland, like all woodlands, quietly bids me welcome.
I am Lucy in the wardrobe. Looking this way and that, I gently push aside boughs of green needles, and enter in. All outside sound evaporates to nothingness, and I am alone. Fistfuls of white light, man’s recreation of the stars, drape and swag above me, casting a surreal glow over this most unusual forest. I run my fingers through emerald arms, bury my face in soft branches. I am intoxicated by the overwhelming smell of winter.
One by one, each tree lets me pass, scores of silent beryl eyes marking my movements as I search for the one I came to find.
Soon, far down another long viridian hallway, I see him, off to the side, regal in his perfection. Tall as an ent, pure magic, his branches seem to wave me over. I stand before him, looking up to the place where a star should be, and softly whisper, “are you the one”? Perhaps it was the wind, for it was strong that night, but I am certain the great tree bowed.

We bore him home by moonlight to his place of honor by the grey stone fireplace and he stands there now, wearing his robes of tinsel and ruby, gold teardrops and fairy light. He presides over Christmas with a dignified beauty, a grace afforded but a few of his kind, trees chosen to share a small portion of the wild wood’s mystery with those of us who dwell indoors. He greets us every morning with his lush sparkle, his holiday perfume. He is the crowning jewel of our festivity, the guardian of our tokens of love for one another - those gaily wrapped boxes nestled under his boughs.
Once again, we are charmed by his presence.

Painting above by Sophia Elliott

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thank you for the food we eat,
Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the birds that sing,

Thank you God for everything.

Happy Thanksgiving
From the House of Edward

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Bit Chaotic

If it were possible to animate my to-do list, to breathe life and colour into each entry for this week and set them all loose on the landscape, no doubt it would resemble the above painting by Hieronymus Bosch. And, if that animation were suddenly to be given a soundtrack, I can bet that the strains of The William Tell Overture would be heard rollicking through the house. Are we busy at The House of Edward? Yes. A bit chaotic? Perhaps. Thanksgiving is on its way - if I squint, I can almost see the infamous sleigh coming over the river and through the woods even as I type. Well worn recipes are scattered amidst cranberries, sweet potatoes, pumpkin... tons of flowers and candles, cinnamon and nutmeg, linen napkins to be ironed, furry dogs to be puffied. There are even Christmas trees propped up in the back garden awaiting their turn in the festivity. They shall be up by the weekend. Needless to say, time is too thin for a thoughtful, thought-out post just now. So... here are some bits and bobs of interest....random thoughts, places to go....people to visit.... things to see... Christmas presents to consider. Have fun and I’ll see you later in the week... oh, and check out the latest poetry giveaway! Just leave a comment here and we’ll draw the name on Thanksgiving Thursday!!

In no particular order....

..... A couple of weeks ago I received a call for help from the delightfully talented designer, Brooke Giannetti. Brooke writes the blog,
Velvet and Linen, and if you have ever wanted to visit the quintessential blog on interior design, you should certainly pay a call on Brooke. At present, she is holding a giveaway competition for three Mark Sage cocktail tables and she received 175 entries! Brooke asked some of her fellow interior designers to help in the judging process, and we all did our best to narrow the choices. Now it is time for you to cast your votes. Pop over to Velvet and Linen today and take part!

....Several mornings ago, I awoke bright and early with a fully orchestrated version of “Whatever Lola Wants” playing loudly in my head. The song is from the musical, “Damn Yankees” and I think I might have heard it once in my entire life. I only caught a snippet this time, because of course the orchestra ran for cover the moment my eyes popped open. I hate when this happens. It’s as if there is a party going on in my head that I am not invited to. Worse still, those in attendance seem to conspire to make me forget their festivities rather quickly. That is why I write them down.

....Since the charming
Willow of Willow Manor so kindly posted about her recent giveaway win from The House of Edward, I have been receiving emails about The Songwriter’s latest CD, Laugh for a Million Years. For those of you interested, you can order your very own copy HERE.
He is a wonderful writer, and no, I’m not the least bit prejudiced.

.....Ever since the summer afternoon when I saw the delicious movie, Julia and Julia, I have been, shall we say, hungry for a large, glazed cast iron pot. In red. Well, I am happy to say that dear Martha Stewart heard my wish and has invented the perfect one. Not nearly as expensive as Le Creuset, or even Emile Henri, Martha’s cast iron cookware is really wonderful. It is sold at Macy’s.

.....I know I cannot have him, for Edward would simply not approve and I most seriously doubt that his owner would ever consider parting with the fellow. But I do so want this rabbit.
Isn’t he magnificent?
His name is Herman.

.....For those of us who are, like me, in the midst of preparations for Thanksgiving, here’s a wonderful treat. Perhaps one to keep the kiddos busy whilst you are cooking? Pop over to
Liberty Post and download her amazing Thanksgiving garland. It’s only $2! Just download, print out, cut out, and string up. Voila! Festive.

.....I think it is beyond wonderful that we now have a First Lady that can actually Hula Hoop. And will do so.

.....And, isn’t it a splendid thing when a child star grows up so beautifully!

Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame.
Photographed in Teen Vogue

....I miss George Harrison.

....How I loved the movie Where The Wild Things Are. Not a movie for children exactly, but a movie about childhood. It’s not always easy to be a child. Magic film.

....Along with many of my fellow
Etsy artists, I shall be participating in the free shipping sale event this weekend. From Friday through Monday all Christmas items in Edward’s Shoppe will be shipped free of charge! It’ll be a great weekend to shop Etsy!

....Speaking of Christmas presents, here are a few more of my recent fabulous favourites....

.....The perfect
hat for the perfect man...

I am so in love with these
handmade journals!
This artist makes them in suede, leather and fabric.

And, these amazing
This Etsy artist also makes lamps and suncatchers.
All are gorgeous.

Or, how about this imaginative
teapot?? Isn't it great?

Last but not least, as promised, a second seasonal giveaway!
A beautiful little collection of Christmas Poems.

Simply leave a comment here, and Edward and I will draw the winning blog on Thanksgiving!
Good luck and enjoy your busy week!
Edward and I certainly plan to!

Congratulations to Ruth! You won the poetry book! *******

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Leaves

Perhaps they were tired of the usual, bored with the mundane annual routine. No doubt they had planned this for weeks, secretly convening beneath lunar light when the rest of the street was sleeping, tucked away in grey dens and brown burrows, twiggy nests and four-posters. The maples had thought of it first, whispering their mischievous idea to the oaks and the poplars whilst the pines and magnolias simply eavesdropped, for this did not concern them.
The plan was ingenious.
It made the old trees laugh.
For years, they had each shed their leaves in a casual fashion. It had always been thus, with the maples stepping off first, scattering their red-orange raiment on the autumn breeze like flaming sparks from a bonfire, and the oak leaves holding out till much later, as though reluctant to relinquish their lofty views up above all the others. A bit more mercurial, the poplars were always difficult to predict, for they adhered to a schedule known only to themselves. With a few leaves here, a bit more there, it had forever been a rather lazy process, almost nonchalant, and one that allowed the ear-muffed humans below ample time to catch up as they scurried around with their wood handled rakes. But not this year.
Meticulously organized, this colourful cabal executed its plan with precision.
On Saturday evening, the trees were full of leaves.
On Sunday morning, they were not.
Sometime in the deepdarkdead of the night - perhaps counting a prelude of three like a rainbow row of giggling children holding hands on the high dive preparing to jump - they all came down at once, leaving the cottage buried deep under crimson and gold. Up street and down, we all silently stood on our porches next morning, our various plans for the day visibly altered before our very eyes and, sighing, one by one, turned back inside to gather up coats and gloves, rakes and leaf blowers, determined to restore a semblance of order to the upturned landscape of our little world.
And later, from somewhere within one of those towering piles of crackling, fading colour, I could almost have sworn I heard an indistinct sound - a thin, strange echo of cheeky laughter.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

All That Shopping

It is a commonplace feeling, I suppose. Still, last week, when I mentioned “Christmas” to the shopkeeper who sells Edward’s favourite carrot cake biscuits, his reaction was a bit of a surprise. Always ready with a smile in any sort of weather, he now clouded over, his expression falling somewhere in the range of gloomy to grumpy as he muttered something unintelligible about “nieces, and nephews and all that shopping”. He was relatively easy to tease back into giggles, especially when I brought up the name Scrooge, but I thought as I left what a shame it is that so many people view the holiday season as nothing less than a chore.
I must confess, despite the wonderful opportunity for people watching that they provide, I rarely enter shopping malls. I much prefer those tiny shops with creaky wooden floors, those intriguing haunts with wavy glass windows that look out onto crooked little streets, those cubbyholes with wonders not to be found in the mammoth halls of department stores. And to be truthful, I make most of my Christmas gifts, and even the boxes they are placed inside. I love doing so.
But today, for Edward’s biscuit selling friend who has all those nieces and nephews to think about, I thought I might put together a wee list of finds... just a few of the items that have recently captured my eye. They are mostly from some of those tiny shops, down a few of those crooked the land of the internet.
So Edward’s friend can shop in his pajamas.
And, so can we all!!

First of all, the marvelous painting of the Christmas shopping bears above is from a set of Christmas cards by Amber Alexander. You can find them, along with many more wonders in her Etsy shoppe

Next, is this just the cutest little hat you have ever seen?? I would have worn this everywhere I went when I was little.
You can find this charmer in an Etsy shoppe called
Swirly Hats.

Etsy is the most fabulous resource for the unique and the handmade.
Just take a look at these
felted slippers...

these magical little creations...

Isn't this
Owl Mobile just the cutest thing ever?

Or this
Owl Pocket Watch

....a perfect fantasy of a skirt from
Anthropologie kids...

Or these from the amazing new
Stella McCartney line for boys and girls from The Gap.
I'm crazy about these, wish they came in my size!

Or, this toadstool ottoman from
The perfect accessory for a child's room, don't you think??

And, just look at these adorable dog ornaments!!!
This artist makes these in a variety of dog breeds.
She even creates custom ones!
Can't you just visualize Edward on the Christmas tree!!!?
Visit her shop

And if you wish to place on of these treasures in an especially wondrous box......
you might like to visit
Edward's own Etsy shoppe!

This was so much fun, we might just do it again next week!
Perhaps a list of my new favourite gift books!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

After the Dinner Party

The guests have all gone and the dishes are done.
The cottage speaks only in whispers now, in the muffled ticktocktick of the old clock in the bookcase, in the now and then crackle of the diminishing blaze still slightly aglow within the stone fireplace. Edward dozes at my feet as I sit, comfortably curled like a cat, deep in the arms of the orange velvet chair, sipping a toddy that is warm and so sweet. The playful personality of the midnight wind has changed since the arrival of November. It sounds more serious somehow, moving through the black leaves outside with a purpose, sending shadows through the windowpanes, muted grey dancers that silently waltz round the candlelit walls. I watch them move and imagine the music only they can hear.
Surely, this is the essence of contentment.

It had been the best sort of day. One spent chopping and slicing, stirring and tasting; a day decorated with antique china and pink flowers, old-fashioned music and red, red wine, happy dogs napping under the chairs of happy dinner guests. The cottage had been redolent with the cozy fragrances of fresh apple pie, crusty bread, boeuf bourguignon simmering in a fat red pot - the menu I had promised for the first truly cold weekend of autumn.
There had been spirited talk of books and of movies, music and Christmas, of Italian landscapes, bagpipes, and Renaissance art.

Cooking for friends, making them welcome, is such a satisfying occupation at any season of the year, but especially just now. When the nights become longer and the temperature drops it seems that a spirit of merriment knocks at the door, a woodland sorcerer clad in robes of crimson leaves and cardinal feathers whose talent is pure hospitality. I am happy to serve as his apprentice. An elegant soul, he is a bit more formal than his counterparts of summer, those alfresco fairies of barefoot spontaneity and pink champagne. No, he seems to prefer dressier occasions - richer colours, richer foods. He is all red roses and tapestry, mulled wine and dark chocolate - his candles are scented with chestnuts and pomegranate, and he hides the recordings of Debussy, preferring to fill the house with Mozart instead. A most convivial fellow, I highly recommend giving him free rein in your household all season long. I promise you shall have even more fun than your guests.

"Frame thy mind to mirth and merriment,
which bars a thousand harms, and lengthens life"
William Shakespeare

Thursday, November 12, 2009

This Little Blog

I was the child who sat at her school desk and day-dreamed. My parents were the ones often told by the teacher that their daughter paid little attention in class. Especially in math class. Despite sincere efforts from rows of well-starched figures of authority, the vibrant scenes that unfolded inside my little head remained infinitely more interesting to me than all the isosceles triangles, square roots, and algorithms combined. All the mathematical theorems in the world could have been dancing in a line atop the teacher’s head - it would have made no difference.

Throughout the years, I can honestly say, not very much has changed. I am still the dreamer and funnily enough, have spent my life getting paid for remaining so. After all, the ability to dream, to clearly see the possible quietly shining just beyond the pedestrian, is an invaluable asset in the field of interior design.
But just when I think that surprises are rare, I am amazed to find myself with the most delicious indulgence for all of my dreams.... right here, in this little blog. Here I have been allowed to cut my thoughts loose, to let them roam free. It has been so much fun and has sometimes tempted me to consider a change of career. Perhaps a fork in the road is just around the leafy bend.

I am now stunned to see that this is my 200th posting! With each post I just know I will never be able to think of another, but the muses keep raising their hands to be heard, so I guess I’ll continue as long as they do. To think that people actually follow along on this journey by consistently reading these writings and ramblings, is astonishing to me. I am incredibly grateful for all the wonderful, thoughtful, and interesting comments and emails you kind people send my way. They are a delight, and such an encouragement. I thank you all and on this, my 200th posting, I am holding a small giveaway to express my appreciation. One of my favourite books of Dog poetry, along with The Songwriter’s latest CD, will be awarded to one lucky reader at midnight on Friday the 13th. What a fabulous night to be lucky!
All you have to do is leave a comment on this posting and Edward will help me draw the winner!!
Good Luck and Thank You Every One!

Painting above by Honor Appleton

*****Congratulations to Life at Willow Manor!! Your blog was drawn out of the hat for the giveaway!****
Thanks to all who entered. So much fun! We'll be doing this again soon!

Monday, November 9, 2009


There is an old man who tends a large garden not very far from my house. I pass by often and see him there, just sitting alone in the midst of his vegetables, quiet, still. I always presume he is contemplating the world and its mysteries, but maybe he’s just escaping a chattering wife.
He has placed a homemade scarecrow in the center of the bounty, a scarecrow well crafted, who dons a new outfit each Spring. By the apparent dearth of crows over the garden, the fellow does his job quite well.
I have always loved the idea of scarecrows. How marvelous if we ourselves could but station a figure outside our front door, a chap perfectly crafted to fit our uniqueness, whose only mission in life was to ward away that which would bring us trouble. We could tailor his garments to suit our own needs, each snippet of clothing holding significance for us alone. A magic red scarf to banish depression, an enchanted blue waistcoat to turn away grief. Illness would spot the striped bowtie and flee, anger would see the tweed trousers and fly.
What a smooth life we could fashion for ourselves.


The Scarecrow

All winter through I bow my head
beneath the driving rain;
the North Wind powders me with snow
and blows me black again;
at midnight 'neath a maze of stars
I flame with glittering rime,
and stand above the stubble, stiff
as mail at morning-prime.
But when that child called Spring, and all
his host of children come,
scattering their buds and dew upon
these acres of my home,
some rapture in my rags awakes;
I lift void eyes and scan
the sky for crows, those ravening foes,
of my strange master, Man.
I watch him striding lank behind
his clashing team, and know
soon will the wheat swish body high
where once lay a sterile snow;
soon I shall gaze across a sea
of sun-begotten grain,
which my unflinching watch hath sealed
for harvest once again.

by Walter de la Mare

Friday, November 6, 2009

Sister and the Dogs

It is the fortunate person who discovers his passion early on in life. So many temptations are spread on the table, so many colours spin by. To travel deep within the grand mountain of possibility and bring out that one bright thing which possesses the power to absorb and enchant for the rest of your life is a blessing indeed.

In the heady nascent days of any new passion, one often finds a hero of sorts, someone to look up to, a person who has sailed the waters before you, smoothly and with great finesse. Such was the case for me when I discovered my love for the creation of beautiful rooms.
I discovered Sister Parish.
Sister Parish, or Mrs. Henry Parish II as she liked to be known, was an American decorator before such creatures were actually known to exist. Her talent was innate, and timeless, and she held tight to a philosophy of design that resonated deeply with me. Though she decorated for Rockefellers and Gettys, Astors and Kennedys, and was known to be more than a trifle imperious, her rooms were infinitely approachable, with a comfort and graciousness that could only be called charming. I would study her furniture placement for hours and I learned a great deal from doing so.

One of Sister's glowing designs

Sister was also a dog lover who held a neighborhood dog show every summer on the lawn of her home in Dark Harbor, Maine. I always adored that idea, of course, so some years back I decided to hold a dog show here in my lovely old Southern neighborhood. Ours is a neighborhood of dog lovers, and the show has been a popular event from day one. This past weekend was our 9th annual show! Awards are given in five categories, with a trophy, medallion and gift basket presented to the “Top Dog” of the neighborhood. Quite appropriately, Edward won “Most Devoted” this year, whilst a bouncy Jack Russell named Ellie Mae took home the award for Top Dog. I wonder what Sister Parish would think if she knew how far her influence had reached!

Edward himself won Top Dog a couple of years ago! Doesn’t he look proud?

Oh and by the way, there is absolutely no age limit posted at the entrance to that mountain of possibility that I mentioned above. I have continued to visit it quite often throughout my life, hauling out new passions with each adventurous trek inside.

“As a child I discovered the happy feelings that familiar things can bring -- an old apple tree, a favorite garden, the smell of a fresh-clipped hedge.... Some think a decorator should change a house. I try to give permanence to a house, to bring out the experiences, the memories, the feelings that make it a home.''
Sister Parish

For those of you interested in interior designer, Sister Parish, I would highly recommend the book Sister, by Apple Bartlett Parish and Susan Bartlett Crater. There is also a brand new book on Mrs. Parish called Sister Parish Design: On Decorating, which promises to delight.
Oh, and it is no coincidence that Mrs. Parish’s daughter and my furry black dog, Apple, share the same delicious name! I told you I was a fan.

Portrait of Sister Parish by Ned Murray

Monday, November 2, 2009

Welcome November

Scarlet leaves are falling on the once green grass, a strand of perfect rubies broken and loosened by time, they tumble down one after the other, holding veined hands with the wind. They shall rest on the dappled floor of the garden, to fade into nothingness, turn into memory, leaving behind sweet bits of their spirits to nourish the green that will bloom in their wake.
We turned all the clocks back late last night, once again granting the darkness greater dominion over all the long hours that make up our day.
November is unpacking his cases and settling in.
And so begins the conclusion of the year.

So often the poet writes about death when he considers the month of November. William Morris spoke of this month as the “
Bright sign of loneliness too great for me, Strange image of the dread eternity”, whilst Baudelaire wrote of the upcoming winter as the season of “derision, hate, shuddering, horror, drudgery and vice” a time when he would be “exiled, like the sun, to a polar prison, My soul will harden into a block of red ice.”
A bleak picture indeed.
I do clearly see the illustration painted by nature, I just suppose I read it differently than some. To me November is a frankly delightful time, a thirty day gift all wrapped up in gold and kindly offered for introspection and preparation. My mind fairly glows with ideas that seem to sparkle best in the early, frost rimmed darkness - jigsaws of notions that now find the time to coalesce into colourful blueprints for the days to come.... intricate tapestries of Thanksgiving ambrosias, Christmas adornments, abundant new spring gardens. If, on a cold, windy night, you have ever curled up in a nest of a chair by the fire, with a mug of hot tea, and an enticing seed catalog or an opulent travel brochure, well you will know what I mean. Of all the months in the kaleidoscopic year, November offers the coziest atmosphere for plotting the most adventurous schemes and strategies.

In the metaphorical searchlight of deeper meaning, I can only hope that my affection for this season remains as I continue my journey through this, the great year of my life. I should like to think when all those days that are mine dwindle down, I shall still be found in my chair by the fire, absorbed in a pleasant contemplation of the grand odyssey to come.
Welcome, November.

Painting by Atkinson Grimshaw