30 April 2009

Dame Edith Sitwell on Cowslip Cream

a young Sitwell photographed by Beaton

in 1952 Dame Edith Sitwell in her "unpopular electric eel in a pool of catfish" way that only she could do- gathered old English receipts that used wild flowers.

Here from her A BOOK OF FLOWERS (1952)

Cowslip CREAM

"take the Cowslips when they are green and in Blossom, and bruise them in a mortar, and to a good handful or two so done put a quart of Cream and boil it up gently with them. Put in a blade of Mace, season with fine sugar and Orange-Flower water. Strain it and draw it up with the yolks of two or three Eggs, and clip off the tops of a handful of the Flowers and draw up with it and dish as you please." ~ Joseph Cooper (cook to Charles I) The Art of Cookery, 1654

there's more...

the cowslip

and from Cooper again

"Take two ounces of Syrup of Cowslips, and boil up in your Cream, and season it as before; thicken it with the Yolks of three or four Eggs, and put in two ounces of Candy's Cowslips when you draw it up; dish it in basons and glasses, and strew over some Candy'd Cowslips.

there's more...

from Mrs Mary Eales-confectioner to Queen Anne

CANDY Cowslips or any Flowers or Greens in Bunches~ from The Accomplish'd Lady's Delight, 1719

Steep your Gum Arabic in Water, wet the flowers with it and shake them in a cloth that they may be dry, then dip them in your sifted Sugar, and hang them on a String tied across a chimney that has a Fire in it they must hang two or three days til the Flowers are quite dry.

28 April 2009

channeling Audrey again

Carla Bruni- Sarkozy channeling Audrey Hepburn's classic Givenchy Look in Spain, done beautifully.

the up swept chignon the sash, sans tiara

Hepburn-more royal than the Royals except perhaps Bruni and Grace Kelly, Her Serene Highness Princess of Monaco.

Hepburn in Roman Holiday

Princess Grace

Hollywood Royalty



the fall collection by Nicolas Ghesquière
describes as" Parisian"

shown at the Hotel de Crillon

this one

powder pink




see two great posts on:
Grenney(click) from Cote De Texas
Sofield(click) from Mrs. Blandings

Balenciaga photographs Marcio Madeira

Grenney photographs Grenney Design website &
Fritz vonder Schulenburg

Sofield photographs by Simon Upton

27 April 2009

10 Things I like about You

Do you occasionally see a room in your favorite magazine that overwhelms? for the good-of course.

Or do you have pages torn out of that special room, checking the details over and over til those pages are dog eared - I do- And though my taste has changed over the 30+ years I have been collecting them-some remain. This is a new favorite-

What's not to like about this? a small library in the home of Harold Koda and Alan Kornberg, just "footsteps away from the Met- where Koda is curator of the Costume Institute.

Here are 10 things I like-

what initially caught my eye was the ART-what I thought was a topographical photograph turns out to be a brilliant photograph of computer chips by Chris Jordan,the scale of the work is great for the enclosed space.

2. I love the little NICHE area for the sofa- the surrounding bookcases. This is a great technique for using space to the max and feeling wrapped in Books. Book lovers will love this.

3. of course The BOOKS-books are books- no covers, no apologies.

4. & look out OVERHEAD, again Maxing the space- perfectly sized cubes for perfectly sized books.

5. all the better to see the art with and add to the intimacy of the space- the cylindrical LIGHTING cleverly mounted on the sides of the bookcases.

6. and that SOFA or divan- beautiful, tufted - in a golden ripe blonde wood grain velvet. naturalistic elements are always beautiful to me- I love silver or bronze in twig, tree bark or trunk or leaf forms- (see 7)

7. BRONZE TABLES with thorny legs by Herve van de Straeten, 2004. (van de straeten on 1st dibs)

8. using TWO TABLES in front of the long sofa creates more space and more intimacy too. It just works and always works in front of sofas (surely there are exceptions-but ...)

9. COLOR- the room is bathed in that golden blonde the WALLS, WOOD, FABRIC... and rug

10. the RUG-a pronounced gold with muted gray carved stylized designs- a 1920's Spanish Cuenca Carpet from Doris Leslie Blau.

that's an easy 10 and I didn't even mention
the FUR.

(photographs by Eric Boman in The World of Interiors August 2007 article "Arrangement in Blue, Gray and Black, written by Boman.)

26 April 2009

tender mercies

The quality of mercy is not
It droppeth as the gentle rain
from heaven
Upon the place beneath; it is
twice bless'd
It blesseth him that gives and
him that takes.
will shakespeare
photograph by Sally Mann

will shakespeare
baptismal registry~26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616

24 April 2009

vermeer here

bathed in the gentle light

photograph by JUSTINE PHOTOGRAPHY in a Philip Treacy fashion


23 April 2009

Shall We Gather?

...it all started with Dafs. As mentioned my favorite yellow- and for some reason this year, I have been remiss in gathering them. My grandmother had borders thick- and never- did she pick.

Dafs in tulipiere

Maybe just an occasional bloom or two would go in her heavy brass vase made in India. She never visited India~ Nor could I imagine her there- though she did follow my grandfather to a little town- gathering wayside flowers as she traveled- not taboo in the 20's.

Naomi, a triple exposure with the fading figure of my grandfather in the background

I have always enjoyed masses of daffodils in the house- however after writing about my preference to gather- it seemed that this year- I wanted to drink them in as Naomi did-where they grow. Flower petals, stem and bulb all feeding til they fade. Naomi gathered family; this was her preference.

but With the Dafs fading, I decided to gather. Admiring the nuanced colors, many specimens and generally gushing over them in a simple white tulipiere.

I plant a few new Daffodils every year- I have accumulated: simple Dafs that naturalize, Tazetta, Jonquil, Daffodil White Lion, Delmashaugh, Narcissus Thalia, Calgary, Snow, Safina, Lemon Drop (Double Dafs)- to name a few.... the hunting part.

...& then, along came the eggs. Eighteen to be exact. A dozen and a half beautiful eggs in extraordinary wash of colors.

eighteen eggs

I was bowled over. My gentlemen farmer friends (really a she and a he)- gathered these and dropped them off at the house right before Easter. What luck to have perfectly dyed eggs- compliments of nature and of friends. Had I tried to get these shades- I would have failed, Miserably.

Fairly new friends, these "farmers", We met while gathering in our small- shall we say- Southern Gothic town to campaign for Barack Obama. A small group gathered new voters throughout the summer- anxious to see how far this little place had come. I thought to myself-If everyone across the country in places like this are gathering too ( A Miracle in of itself) Change Will Come.

Southern Gothic uptown

Change did come. New Friendships came.

...and then the eggs.

...that started me thinking about another collection of Eggs I had gathered; the last of a vast collection of prints from the NATURAL HISTORY of the NESTS and EGGS of BRITISH BIRDS by the Rev. F. O. MORRIS. Purchased in a baker's dozen, the overwhelmingly nuanced collection were the eggs no one else wanted.

What fascinates is the ever so slight difference in each of the prints.

the British Eggs of Reverend F.O. Morris

...landing me right in the chicken coops and hen houses of my great grandmother- Avie Eustean Fleig, known to all as MaMa.

MaMa was ancient when I was born, so it seemed to me and when she died at the age of 89- I was 19. MaMa was not so ancient, but the world had changed and she was still"of her day," not to mention the fact that M. sewed for four daughters, designed an occasional wedding dress for a county bride, gardened-vegetables and flowers, tended chickens, chopped wood, wielded a mean shovel to put down a snake and cooked on a wood stove most of her life (another topic to be sure). She sat in the kitchen in a rocker near the radio-Supervising. I guess it was her throne of sorts and well deserved.

the MaMa I always knew

I remember MaMa-
a two story log house- with a newel post that as a child- I could not get my arms around, yet every time I went out to MaMa's I would try it out. Eventually I was able to ring around and wondered what the fuss was all about.

...but about the Eggs. Always in abundance at MaMa's, along with huge cardboard boxes of little peeps in the kitchen around the same time each year.

Peeps to Coops, to Chicken Yard, to Eggs. MaMa sold eggs to a local grocer and to "private clients." MaMa gathered it all- family too. Pictures lined the polished log walls in her sitting room and bedroom- dozens and dozens, daughters traveling, moving far, but staying near-through still images and stories MaMa told... as we gathered round her chair.

We all gather, and if blessed- the simple things and the irreplaceable people come our way.


22 April 2009

sunday in the park with Castaing

bewilderingly beautiful Madeleine Castaing

...the bench that had belonged to Madame Castaing highlights Tectona's close ties to the history of design

Muse and patron of Soutine, chose this perfectly proportioned restoration bench for her garden

Castaing's Leves

21 April 2009

GV- FACEbook

Gloria Laura Morgan Vanderbilt

What's on your mind? just completed a bedroom at Kips Bay Showhouse with Matthew Patrick Smyth (click) to see a terrific piece in the Times about the room-

"the Memories and Desire Bedroom"
40's Hollywood Glamour

(photograph Fred Conrad- NY Times,above and below)

( photographs below by Piotr Redlinski)

writing from the memoir on the silver papered walls

The bedroom at age 16, glamorous silver paper on the walls & ceiling, Swedish clock, Burmese Slipper chair, French day bed, mirrored screen, beloved quilt. The room was in the GVW (Aunt)residence Washington Mews.

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney

the carriage house Washington Mews

Painting of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney's converted carriage house exclusively for NY Magazine by GV

new book cover coming out in June2009

"Every writer has only one thing to say... over and over. My thing is loss. It is the most real thing to me, the thing I understand most, the thing that obsesses and interests and fascinates me." (GV)

Basic Information
Networks: NY, NY
age 85
Birthday: February 24th, 1924
Hometown: New York

Personal Information
Artist, Actress, Fashion Designer, Socialite- Latest foray INTERIOR DESIGN


"she would show up at, like ,report day at my school... in sort of like a beaver skin purple Zandra Rhodes coat. And I'd be like Mom, you know, can't you just like wear twee or something? Just like, tone it down?" And now I'm very happy and proud that she doesn't, and she's completely unique." AC

with Joyce Carol Oates ( April 7 2009)

pictures above taken at The National Arts Club's Literary Committee Honoring Joyce Carol Oates at The National Arts Club on April 7, 2009 in New York City.


"My work is loving the world"~Mary Oliver
A poem of the miraculous in the everyday...which is mostly standing still and being astonished.~Amy Hempel

Interests: collage,painting


Joyce Carol Oates the beauty of Burne-Jones painting. The darkness of her hair crinkling in a halo around the tenderness, the compassion, the intelligence of her face.

Amy Hempel – her mysterious beauty – the cloud of shimmering hair cascading around her as a cloak to protect the pureness of her spirit which runs through her bloodstream like crystal water.

Aurelia Thierree – she moves on strange planes that girl – her catlike beauty, her delicacy, her strength. Will I ever be able to capture it?

Miss Porter's School in Farmington Connecticut
the Mary C. Wheeler School in Providence Rhode Island
Art Students League in New York City

G.V. has been the recipient of an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts at Moore College of Art, Philadelphia, and the International Fine Arts College, Miami, Florida. Among the other awards she has received are: The National Society of Arts & Letters Gold Medal of Merit, the Anti-Defamation League Woman of Achievement Award, National League of American Pen Women, National Honorarium Membership for Excellence in the Arts.

Books Authored
Once upon a Time: A True Story
Black knight, White knight

A Mother's Story

It Seemed Important at the Time: A Romance Memoir

The Memory Book of Starr Faithfull

Never Say Good-Bye

-a novel coming out in June 2009.
Once upon a Time: A True Story
Black knight, White knight

A Mother's Story

It Seemed Important at the Time: A Romance Memoir

The Memory Book of Starr Faithfull

Never Say Good-Bye

-a novel coming out in June 2009.


photo by O.G.

the portrait is of Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt

"today, how I wish my mother was living close by, perhaps around the corner, so that I could drop by for a cup of tea now and then," she says. "We could smile over things - the things we may have cried about long ago as old friends do when they get together once in a while to catch up, to talk about old times and the things that pass."GV
(all photographs above are by Oberto Gili)

another Bedroom (Horst P Horst) read more click here

at 30, by photographed by Gordon Parks 1954

with Gordon Parks, companion

“He had the greatest gift of all, the ability to love without fear."

Portrait at 34 by Carl Van Vetchen

"Figure in an Interior portrait" by Aaron Shikler

“a feminine version of the Renaissance Man.” (LIFE magazine 1968)


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