Monday, February 29, 2016

Looking Forward... a Long Happy List for Springtime

Looking Forward
A Long Happy List for Spring

We heard them long before they came into view, their conversations dominating the air all around us with the sort of fluttering, chattering, deafening sound only created by nature herself.  A large flock of red-winged blackbirds, filling the bare trees with ebony leaves that flashed scarlet like the blinking eyes of wolves whenever they rose and resettled.  We stopped still.   I held my head back and closed my eyes to listen, feeling almost avian myself - feathered, light and quite able to fly.  Edward gave a tug on his lead and we continued on our way, but the message was heard, loud and clear.
Spring is coming.

Of all the seasons that I love - and I love all four with abandon - Spring seems to be the one  that arrives with such fanfare.  It has none of the sublety of Autumn - no slow fade, no gentle fall.  Rather, it bursts, it fills, it overflows - its colors fairly leap over the hillsides; brown becomes green overnight.  It is a season of elation, not reflection, a season in which we throw open the windows and turn up the music.  A season for setting into motion all those dreams that we dreamt by the fire.  I’ve always been grateful for a Spring birthday, happy to have been born in this season of discovery and celebration of new life.  
Spring is a season for looking forward, not looking back. 
 So, here’s a list to help us all do just that.

 As for me, I’m looking forward to…

 1.  A Springtime Dinner Party
with this on the table.
I adore the embroidered table linens at Coral and Tusk.
Find them HERE

2.  Springtime Rambles in the Woods
And for that, I need these.
Wellies meet William Morris.
An inspired combination.
Find them HERE

3.  Springtime Tea Parties
On the screened porch or out in the garden.
Bees buzzing, birds singing.
Hydrangeas waving in the breeze.
And a coconut cake on this beautiful cake stand.
Find it HERE

4.  Breakfast by a Sunny Window
on these exquisite placemats.
I’m heading straight to Nina Campbell's shop 
when I arrive in London
to snatch these up for myself!
Find them HERE

5.  Spring Sprucing
It’s a cliche, I know.  But yes, I do get the urge to clean and polish 
every corner of my cottage at the first warm wind of March.  
A new cushion here, a new painting there.
Maybe a new rug?…..
A.   Or…. This fabulous London Map
For years I’ve loved seeing the gorgeous flat of Ben Pentreath in London.  
(If you don’t follow him, you should!)  
I’ve especially been enchanted by the framed map of London on his sitting room wall, above. 
Little did I know, it can be purchased from his shop.
Find it HERE

B.  Vintage Cushions
And for a special spot that needs something fresh, 
I’ve just restocked the shop with a few new, 
and very fetching, vintage cushions.
Find them HERE

C.  Inspiring Book 
If you're looking for home inspiration, there’s no better place to discover it than in Patina Farm,
 the brand-new book from Brooke and Steve Giannetti, of Velvet and Linen fame. 
 My copy arrived this week, and I find I just fall inside it whenever I open it even a crack.  
It’s lovely, and so inspiring.
Find it HERE

D.  Swan Wardrobe
Love this, too!
Find it HERE

6.  Warm Nights on the Screened Porch
When we’ll be listening to music and playing this.
The Songwriter’s favourite birthday present.
Find it HERE

7.  New Spring Shoes
You could hear me applauding from here when I read that Victoria Beckham
 has traded in her stilettos  for comfortable footwear.  
And she looks adorable in her white trainers.  
Victoria, we welcome you to the land of happy, free feet!
As for me, I’m eyeing this pair for Spring.
I Love, Love these.
Find them HERE

8.  A Fresh New Crop of Books
There are so many new titles on the horizon, 
I cannot wait to hold them in my hot little hands. 
 I’ve already pre-ordered this one!
Find it HERE

9.  New Art Exhibits
There are wonderful new art shows opening this Spring all around the globe.
Go see…
The work of fashion illustrator Kenneth Paul Block (above) HERE
Gorgeous American quilts and folk art HERE
Golden tapestries of the Sun King HERE
Fabulous theatre sets from London and New York HERE
A celebration of the life of Charlotte Bronte HERE 
and a show I myself am heading to soon, 
 one just perfect for Spring,  beautiful paintings of gardens HERE
(the Monet at the top of the post is part of this show!)

10.  and Lastly,  Farewell to Harper Lee
I think Spring will indulge me a small moment of looking back, to the most wonderful writer America can claim. Harper Lee.  Miss Lee passed away a couple of weeks ago and I doubt we’ll see her like again.  I came across an essay she wrote around the time of the publication of her miraculous book, To Kill a Mockingbird.  These paragraphs seemed pertinent to our times.  
Love to You All.

“Avarice never wrote a good novel; hate did not paint "The Birth of Venus"; nor did envy reveal to us that the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the two sides. Every creation of man's mind that has withstood the buffeting of time was born of love--love of something or someone…..

Any act of love …. no matter how small--lessens anxiety's grip, gives us a taste of tomorrow, and eases the yoke of our fears. Love, unlike virtue, is not its own reward. The reward of love is peace of mind, and peace of mind is the end of man's desiring.”

If you enjoy these lists, you might wish to follow
Edward and me on Instagram, HERE
Loads of photos of Edward, movies, books, gardens, and fun.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Two People On An Elephant

Two People On An Elephant

Whether you make your home on the left shore or the right, it is nigh impossible to find a safe place to cross the howling wild waters of American politics these days.  There was a time when intelligent discourse could form a bridge betwixt the two sides, but listen for that now and you might as well put your ear to a shell.   It has become commonplace to hear presidential candidates regularly, and at high volume, call each other the sort of hateful epithets formerly unwelcome in the schoolyard and, astonishingly, be applauded for it.   I feel nothing but embarrassment at the spectacle.    All of which makes the recent passing of US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia noteworthy, and not for the reasons you might think. 

There was a photograph that surfaced amid the predictable, petulant firestorm that immediately erupted concerning Judge Scalia’s replacement; a photograph that, for me, elicited the most interest.  A picture of two people on holiday in India, sitting atop an elephant and beaming with obvious pleasure.  Judge Scalia and Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  One a hero of the right, the other a champion of the left, rarely in agreement in the cases they judged, yet apparently, clearly, good friends.  

It is now known that these two polar opposites were indeed close friends, or “buddies”, as Judge Ginsburg recalls.  They attended the opera together.  They teased each other with the sort of good humour that is indicative of an easy friendship.  (For example, regarding that elephant photo, when Judge Scalia pointed out that she had to ride behind him, Judge Ginsburg countered that it was all due to a proper distribution of considerable weight and nothing more.)  They respected each other’s intelligence and humanity, though they frequently, vigorously, disagreed on the cases they judged. 

I’m not sure when we began to demonize those with whom we disagree. It takes a certain kind of hubris to think one is right all the time, to refuse to make room for other ways and other opinions, but that hubris becomes dangerous when we condemn those who hold different views than ours or when, God help us,  we use our religion as a scythe to cut another’s humanity and patriotism to shreds.  This past week I heard a wise man say that we no longer look for information, but for ammunition, and I fear this is all too true.  

Recently  I received a letter from a reader who told me, although they had always enjoyed my blog, they were now “never going to read it again” because of a comment I made concerning a certain presidential candidate.  I wished them well, but couldn’t help but wonder how difficult it must be for them to get along in such a wide, wide world.  If we only associate with those who applaud our views, if we only read affirmation of our beliefs, if we never consider other opinions….. well, I guess we’re now seeing what that brings.
How I hope that photograph of those two smiling people
 on that elephant gets the attention it so deserves.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

My Romance

My romance doesn’t have to have a moon in the sky
My romance doesn’t need a blue lagoon standing by
No month of May, no twinkling stars
No hideaway, no soft guitars

My romance doesn’t need a castle rising in Spain
Nor a dance to a constantly surprising refrain
Wide awake I can make my most fantastic dreams come true

My romance doesn’t need a thing but you.

Music Richard Rodgers
Lyrics Lorenz Hart
Listen HERE

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Staying In For Valentine's Day... A List of Romantic Movies

Staying In For Valentine’s Day
Everywhere I look this week I see chocolate, flowers and hearts.  
Just look at this photograph of a house I frequently drive past....

Restaurants are offering special menus.  Florists are in hyperdrive.  Married couples can even renew their wedding vows in the Botanical Garden’s rose garden, which I admit is a bit confusing as it’s rare to see a blooming rose in February, but I appreciate the sentiment behind the ceremony.  
Here at the House of Edward, The Songwriter and I prefer to stay in, finding it difficult to imagine a cozier, more romantic, spot than our own fireside.  If you are a bit like us, I’d like to offer up a list of our favorite romantic movies to enhance your evening.   There's a quote from each movie, just to tempt you with how wonderful they all are. 
And please do share some of your own!
Kisses and Hearts to All!


“You’ve got no faith in Johnny, have you, Julia?  His little dream my fall flat, you think.  Well, so it  may, what if it should?  There’ll be another.  Oh, I’ve got all the faith in the world in Johnny.  Whatever he does is all right with me.  If he wants to dream for a while, he can dream for a while, and if he wants to come back and sell peanuts, oh, how I’ll believe in those peanuts!”

Find it HERE

The Philadelphia Story

“What are her leading characteristics?’

‘She has a horror of men who wear their hats in the house.”

Find it HERE

My Favorite Wife

“The moment I saw you downstairs, I knew.”

“Oh, go on.  I bet you say that to all your wives.”

Find it HERE

The Awful Truth

“The custody of the dog will depend upon his own desire.”

Find it HERE

Out of Africa

“He even took the gramophone on safari.  Three rifles, supplies for a month, and Mozart.”

Find it HERE

Sense and Sensibility

“The air is full of spices.”

Find it HERE

Wuthering Heights

“Heathcliff, make the world stop right here.  Make everything stop and stand still and never move again.  Make the moors never change and you and I never change.”

Find it HERE

Pride and Prejudice

“No, indeed, my mind was more agreeably engaged. I've been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow.”

Find it HERE


“ I won’t allow it to be any more man’s nature than women’s to be inconstant or to forget those they love or have loved.  I believe the reverse.  I believe…. Let me just observe that all histories are against you, all stories, prose, and verse.  I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which did not have something to say on women’s fickleness.”

“But they were all written by men.”

Find it HERE


“Don’t you need a coat?”

“You’ll do.”

Find it HERE

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

“You’ll… you’ll forgive me if I … if I take a moment to get accustomed to you.”

Find it HERE

I Know Where I’m Going

“People around here are very poor, I suppose.”

“Not poor, they just haven’t got any money.”

“It’s the same thing.”

“Oh no, it’s something quite different.”

Find it HERE

Truly, Madly, Deeply

“You’re probably a figment of my imagination.”

Find it HERE


“It’s the most ferocious, savage, terrifying forest I’ve ever seen.  I simply adore it.”

Find it HERE

Painting above by Susan Ryder

Tuesday, February 9, 2016



 It is award season here in the states.  What that means is that this month we have so many award ceremonies shown on television and splashed about the morning papers that any gravitas those prizes may have enjoyed in years past has long since evaporated.  Between the first of the year and the end of this month we’ll have had the Golden Globes, the Critic’s Choice awards, the People’s Choice awards,  the SAG awards (which, as a woman, I’ve always found to be a dubious honor at best), the Producer’s Guild awards, the Director’s Guild awards ….well,  you get the idea. The Oscars used to be the only game in town for most of us lay people but these days, by the time that illustrious pageant takes place, not only do we already know who’s going to win the golden statue, we no longer really care.  Like too many of the actors themselves, all the mystery has been syphoned away by hype and over-exposure.   It’s no wonder, I suppose, that these spectacles have primarily devolved into fashion shows where every outfit elicits endless scrutiny, criticism, and comment. 

And so …. people have been abuzz this week over the appearance of the actress, Susan Sarandon, at the aforementioned SAG awards this past weekend.  Ms. Sarandon strode onstage in a beautiful white pantsuit but rather inexplicably she left her shirt at home, choosing instead to let her black bra do all the heavy lifting, so to speak, by itself.   This sartorial choice was made even more note-worthy by the fact that her onstage duty was to deliver the memoriam tribute to the actors who had died in the previous year. For myself, the resulting effect was a bit cringe-worthy.  

In the ensuing chatter over Ms. Sarandon’s outfit, a lot of opinion has centered around her age.  From “She’s way too old to parade herself around like that!” to “Hey, if you’ve still got it, flaunt it.”  For myself, that’s not even remotely the issue.  She’s undoubtedly a gorgeous, well-endowed woman who could easily turn heads in a potato sack.  For me, what was lacking in her ensemble, beside the shirt of course, was a sense of appropriateness.  I have to admit that I miss the days when women dressed with an eye to the occasion, and yes, I know I sound like an old crank saying this.  But it’s true.  It’s also why I don’t wear jeans to funerals or white to a wedding.  Like any art form, fashion is a form of communication and sometimes what we need to communicate is respect and even, dare I say,  a wee bit of dignity.  Forgive me, but this is difficult to do shirtless. 

Last September, The Songwriter and I were having breakfast in a tiny cafe on Kings Road in London.  Seated next to us was a young woman and her very elegantly dressed grandmother.  I was close enough to overhear their conversation and am afraid I frequently found it too delicious to ignore.   At one point the elderly lady was heard to say, “I’m sorry, my dear, but I just don’t understand most women today.  They all seem to dress as though they are in a French play.”
I suppose that’ll be me in a few years. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Reading in February - A Dozen Snuggle-Worthy Books

Reading in February
 A Dozen Snuggle-Worthy Books
For someone who loves the pleasures of winter as much as I, the arrival of February kindles a feeling of melancholy in my soul.  It always seems to get here faster than any other month, almost as if the paucity of its days makes it anxious to get started.  Twenty-eight short days left for snuggling down beside the fire after long cheek-numbing walks under low grey skies.  While it’s certainly true some of our most memorable snowstorms have occurred in March, when that month rolls into view it seems I’m nearly always thinking of spring, with pictures of new plants for the garden swirling like dandelion floss in my head.  So I resolve every year to make the utmost of February’s few days of cold weather comfort and, as good books are some of the certain pleasures of winter, here are a dozen vying for my attention in this last full wintertime month.  Hopefully, you’ll find some that interest you as well.  
Stay warm and read, everybody!

1. My Name is Lucy Barton
by Elizabeth Strout
I was one of those people who loved Ms. Strout’s last novel, Olive Kitteridge, so I’m looking forward to diving into this new one.  It’s earning excellent reviews and Strout has such a preceptive ear for the inner workings of human beings.  Her characters are not always likable, but they are always real.
Find it HERE

2. Alice in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll
This story always scared me a bit when I was small.  That sneezing pig/baby was the worst.  But Alice stretched my imagination wide, letting in all sorts of colour and light, and I loved it.  This is the 150th anniversary of the publication of this fabulous classic and this is a beautiful edition. 
Find it HERE

3. Threads, The Delicate Life of John Craske
by Julia Blackburn
The story of a Norfolk fisherman who first went to sea at the age of eleven and who became an astonishing embroidery artist.  That is an unusual enough description, I realize, and believe me, the book is so, so much more.  I discovered it in the window of John Sandoe Books in London this past September and it has become one of the treasures of my library.  It’s wonderful.
Find it HERE

4. H is for Hawk
by Helen MacDonald
I have really high hopes for this one.  I’ve heard so many raves about it.  The story of a woman who attempts to train one of the world’s most vicious predators, the goshawk, as a way to cope with the grief over her father’s sudden death.  The writer took her inspiration for this endeavor from the path followed by T.H. White in his memoir, The Goshawk, so yes, I want to read that one as well.
Find H is for Hawk, HERE
Find The Goshawk, HERE

5. The Illustrated Herdwick Shepherd
by James Rebanks
One of my favorite reads last fall was A Shepherd’s Life, by Cumbrian farmer, James Rebanks.  I simply loved it and wanted more the minute I read the last sentence.  Fortunately, Mr. Rebanks has complied with this marvelous book that includes wonderful photography of the land he loves.  It’s a joy to read.
Find The Illustrated Herdwick Shepherd HERE
Find A Shepherd’s Life HERE

6. When Breath Becomes Air
by Paul Kalanithi
The writings of a young doctor facing his own death.  This is, admittedly, not the expected recommendation for a book to snuggle up with on a cold night.  But I’ve heard so many good, good things.  Having read a couple of essays by Dr. Kalanithi in the past, I know he is an elegant, thoughtful writer.  To read his account of this inescapable journey seems important to me.
Find it HERE

7.  Lolly Willowes
by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Cannot believe I’ve never read this.
I’m rectifying that this month.
Find it HERE

8.  Pack My Bag, A Self-Portrait
by Henry Green
The witty autobiography of a witty novelist.
Find it HERE

9.  Alive, Alive Oh!: And Other Things That Matter
by Diana Athill
I, for one, need to hear what a brilliant ninety-eight year old woman thinks about the things that matter.
Find it HERE

10.  Knitlandia, A Knitter Sees the World
by Clara Parkes
I can empirically tell you that knitters knit all year long.  I have been observed knitting wool scarves at the beach in August, so I know.  But really, winter was made for knitting.  It’s hard to beat sitting by the fire with a big white dog asleep beside you (or with his head in your lap) while you knit yourself a sweater more beautiful than anything you could possibly find at Saks.  This month is also the perfect time to read about knitting when your hands get tired.  Perfect month to release this book. Perfect month to read it.
Find it HERE

11.  The Corfu Trilogy
by Gerald Durrell
I re-read My Family and Other Animals at least once a year.  It’s a joy to me.  Now there’s a new edition that includes all the Durrell books set on Corfu in one volume.  
Divine to be reading of sunny Corfu just now.
Find it HERE

12. Bright Wings
An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds
Edited by Billy Collins
They are the jewels in our garden this month.  The ruby red of the cardinal.The sapphire blue of the jay.  They gather at our feeders and roost in our trees.  We feel so fortunate to share our lives with these feathered creatures.  This beautiful book celebrates them and they so deserve that celebration.
Find it HERE