Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Though I enjoy viewing beautiful homes from the exterior – I mean who doesn’t love a stroll through New Orleans’ French Quarter, or a drive through Kenwood during dogwood season?  But to get a look  inside – that’s pure joy.

So here’s a peek at some of the detailing inside the circa 1800 home of the founder of New Windsor (Take a look at the exceptional architecture in this little town here).  Click on any image to enlarge it.

Hope you enjoyed this mini tour of New Windsor and the Atlee House.  For details about houses for sale in New Windsor, check out our Vintage Homes for Sale page.

Thanks for reading,


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I have always had a love of architecture, and doors in particular.  They are the life-line to the space within, and as such have far more impact than we often give them credit for.  As I strolled through the extraordinarily beautiful streets of Paris, it was the seemingly infinite variety of portals – size, shape, color, embellishment – one right after the other.  Take a look:


This beauty is along the boulevard St. Germaine on the Rive Gauche.  Extraordinary as it looks to us, this is a typical door along the beautiful Paris boulevards.


Okay, so the red is a bit over-the-top.  But the almost Asian look of this one made it a stand out along the square in front of St. Sulpice.

Along the Rue du Cherche-Midi, a quiet street of

Along the Rue du Cherche-Midi, a quiet street of elegant shops.


Just down the Rue Napoleon Bonaparte from Laudauré.  I just LOVED to be able to peak into the courtyards when the portals stood open.

Classic Parisian door.  Note the Nuit et Jour sign.  I LOVE those!!  Some of them even lit up.  I can think of sooo many times I could have used one!

Classic Parisian door. Note the Nuit et Jour sign. I LOVE those!! Some of them even lit up. I can think of sooo many times I could have used one!


Looking into the courtyard of the Art Academy (yes, the one that wouldn’t accept Claude Monet and his friends).


A peak through the doors into the Grand Salon of the Art Academy.  In a time before electricity, this glass ceiling was a critical innovation for clearly seeing art.

That’s just a taste of the delightful doors, and some of what’s behind them!  Hope you enjoy this little peak at Paris.

Thanks for reading,





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I’m heading to Paris this week, and just can’t wait!!  I’ll be staying with my dearest friend, who is currently living in the 6th Arrondissement, just steps from the Luxembourg Gardens, The Cluny Museum, and La Seine.



It’s a beautiful neighborhood, but then is there a Paris neighborhood that isn’t?  Not only am I obsessed with home decor, I also love to cook.  And, yes, I’m a huge Julia Child fan.   Just outside our door is the famous Raspail food market.  And I can’t wait to explore it!


If I can get them to understand what I want, I’m hoping to gather produce, flowers, bread, and meat, and bring them all home for a fabulous dinner!  Oh, and a bottle of wine, of course.

And then there’s the Montemarte neighborhood, where we are going in search of a fabulous, 5-story fabric store (in anticipation of which I’m bringing at least one empty suitcase with me!)  And everywhere we go, we’ll be seeing sites like this:


And of course, this:


And we’ll be heading to Belgium (she has a Suburban – yes in Europe, she’s got a Chevy Suburban!) to fill it up at the Ciney Puces:


Have you been to Paris recently?  Any suggestions on some not-to-be-missed markets, sites, or events?  I’d love to hear about it!

Thanks for reading,


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Paint can be tricky.  Add to the mix the lightening effects of painting exterior surfaces, and I become frozen with indecision.  Whatever I choose, I’m stuck with it, and so is everyone who drives by and/or visits my barns.   So here I sit, paralyzed with indecision as the warm summer painting season passing by.

A mere six years ago, when we purchased this property from my family, we had the barns painted.  Feeling nostalgic and wanting to honor the past, I simply had them repainted as they had been all my life:


Classic white with dark green trim.  If you travel up and down Buckeystown Pike, you’ll find barn after barn painted this same way.



But the job was done poorly, and now, after only six short years, we’re faced with the need to paint again.   And I’m itching for a change.

I’d really like to move on to this look:

barn paint



Farrow & Ball’s Railings is an great choice.  I attended one of F&B’s color seminars, where I learned to go 2 tones darker for exterior color, as the sun washes it out, making it appear much paler outside than it does indoors.


Here’s Railings as a trim color – so beautiful.

There is no comparison for richness and fullness of color to the Farrow & Ball paints.  And here’s another choice – but paler:  Downpipe:


downpipe against red brick

I really like this color in combination with the red brick.  Our house (which could also use fresh paint) is red brick, and I’d like consistency throughout the property.

Farrow & Ball downpipe

This image above is F&B’s Downpipe against Cotswolds stone.  But doesn’t anything look beautiful against Cotswolds stone?



Amherst grey

And then there’s Benjamin Moore’s Amherst Grey.  So elegantly sharp with it’s crisp white trim.

amherst grey benjamin moore


Or, Benjamin Moore’s Kendall Charcoal.  This image gives you a great look at how color can change.  On the cards, Kendall Charcoal is darker than Amherst Grey, yet if you compare these images, they appear to be almost the same color.


Best Exterior Outdoor Green House Paint Color, Benjamin Moore Black Forest Green, Gardenista

And here is Benjamin Moore’s Black Forest Green.  Try to envision this barn with crisp white trim framing the small door, and outlining the detailing on the large barn door.

You see how it goes?  I just need to choose and get on with it.  But whatever I choose, it necessarily eliminates all those other beautiful, tempting choices.

It’s just so hard to decide . . .

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this vexing issue!

Thanks for reading,


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I really don’t like malls.  They’re all the same stores, same basic layout, same corporate look.  But every now and then (yes, especially this time of year), I’ll drop in.  When I go, my favorite in this area is Tyson’s Corner/Tyson’s Galleria – mainly because they have the best Apple store in the area AND Anthropologie.

But, much as I love both those stores, there’s still a bit of that corporate-ness to them (this shop window, is just an example of what I’m saying).

And then I found Free People:


Firstly, I just love these spectacular doors.  And it’s the details that make this for me:  the gravel “pavement” with the cute bike parked outside, the bronze doors that look like it’s a pavilion plucked from the Tuilleries Gardens in Paris.


And then you walk in to hardwood floors (no big surprise, or exception there), charming clothes and accessories, and – here’s the part I love – handmade holiday decorations!  Yes, the staff at Free People made this adorable pom poms them selves, and set up this charming display.


And I’m always a sucker for incorporating natural elements in displays of any kind.


And don’t they just plain look fun to make? IMG_3818

These pretty cones are a nice complement (not sure if they made these, too).


I was surprised to find this level of personality in a corporate store.  Kudos Free People.

Happy Holiday shopping to you!

Thanks for reading,


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What better to put you in the Christmas spirit than a December snow? And we’re already on our second one here in Buckeystown, Maryland! I’ve lived in this area all my life (eg. a very long time . . .) and cannot recall a December with two early snows, especially over 6″ (the mid-Maryland definition of a decent snow).

So how am I celebrating this natural phenomenon? Sipping french vanilla coffee, in pajamas and slippers, ensconced in my down-cushioned sofa, watching the snow fall outside our wall of windows. Ahh, contentment . . .


What I awoke to this morning:


And a few images from Sunday’s snow:







I think the 14′ Christmas tree, which I struggled all month to decorate (and keep upright!), looks spectacular the way Nature has trimmed it.  The ultimate flocking!

If you got some snow, I’d love to see pictures of it!

Thanks for reading,



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The sideboard was also my grandmother's, and also in exactly the same spot where she had it.

Thanksgiving is a day dominated by an iconic meal. Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years for making it easy and tasty:

1.  Have drinks and appetizers ready for when guests arrive (or, if you’re not having additional guests, about an hour before you plan to eat).  NOT fancy ones – you don’t want to overwork yourself on this stage of the game.  But if you haven’t planned for this important step, the crowd gets restless if the main event is not right on time.  (I’ve learned these lessons the hard way . . .)

My current favorite drink recipe:


Chartreuse cocktail

2 parts Gin

1 part Chartreuse liquor

1 part Rose’s Lime Juice

Sprig of fresh rosemary

fresh lime juice

Fill shaker with ice.  Add spring of rosemary first, then the wet ingredients.  Shake thoroughly.  Pour into a chilled martini glass or over ice in an old-fashioned glass.  CAUTION:  it’s a strong drink, which is easy to dilute as much as you like with chilled Sprite.

2.  Make your home as fresh, beautiful, and inviting as you possibly can.

Have music softly playing throughout the house – never underestimate the power of music to set the mood.

Burn softly fragrant candles throughout the house.

Create a simple, easy centerpiece (for table or buffet):

  • Go outside and clip some greens and branches.
  • Gather fruits from the grocery store.
  • Stack cake plates into a tier, place the fruits on each level, and trail the greens through them, and down to the table/buffet.
  • Underlay it all with a burlap runner.
  • Top it with a mismatched collection of candlesticks filled with autumn-colored candles, and your dining area is decorated.

3.  Accommodate the need for football.

It’s too big a deal to ignore.  Have a tub of beer and soda on ice, plus basic chips and salsa/dip in the main TV-viewing area.  The serious fans care about nothing else.  Let them have their day.   But, make sure this activity is away from the main dining/conversation area.  The not-so-serious fans need their day, too.

4.  Provide a great menu.  Don’t try getting fancy.  This is a meal at which everyone has basic favorites.  Be sure you’ve got ’em covered:  turkey. mashed potatoes, gravy (homemade), assorted vegetables (this is where you can experiment some), sauerkraut, cranberry sauce (I prefer the jellied variety), stuffing, apple pie, pumpkin pie garnished with fresh whipped cream or ice cream, really good coffee (illy brand is best)

5.  Roast the perfect turkey.


Forget the brining, deep frying, and voodoo.  Here’s what makes a tender, juicy, roasted turkey:

  • Remove giblets, etc., rinse turkey inside and out.  Pat dry.
  • Place in large roasting pan and brush on a thin coat of olive oil (I use extra virgin).
  • Generously season with freshly grated sea salt, black pepper, herbs (I use italian – oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, margoram).  I put enough herbs over it that it’s practically coated.  (It’s a big, fat bird.  It can handle it.)
  • Place pats of butter on the bird.  I place 3-4 over the highest part of the breast, plus a couple of the legs, and any prominent points.
  • Cover with a loose dome of tin foil (my grandmother’s secret to a juicy turkey).
  • Roast at 325 degrees according to times listed on the label.  (Butterball.com has a great chart on their website.)
  • 30 minutes before the turkey is fully cooked, remove the tin foil, allowing the bird to brown nicely.
  • When finished cooking, let the turkey cool, recovered by the tin foil, for about 15 minutes.
  • Enjoy.

Follow these 5 steps, and when you finish them, as you sit around the table, enjoying conversation and the last bits of pie, you’ll be relaxed enough to enjoy it all.

Happy Thanksgiving,





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I understand that many women are not good at spatial relations, that is, understanding how objects fit in and move through space. I offer myself as a case study:

Two days ago I made plans to pick up a large hutch that the owner told me was in two pieces, the larger of which was 5’3″ x 4’11” x 18″ deep. She didn’t think it would fit in my Suburban. “Of course it will,” I thought blithely.

But I was wrong.

So yesterday, upon returning without the hutch from her home, I ordered a rental truck from Home Depot. “I’ve got a 16-footer for you, mam,” replied the nice young man on the phone. “Oh, no. I just need a cargo van; I don’t want a box truck!”

Later that day, we made our second trip to pick up the hutch.  It took engineering and muscle power that, honestly, neither the homeowner, my daughter, nor I had just to get the thing out of the house and to the back of the waiting van.  With my dear daughter on one end, the very kind furniture-owner on the other, and me at the end, we realized that, in fact, I needed a box truck.

So, back to Home Depot we went.  I would like to publicly acknowledge my gratitude to the young man who helped us.  He was very efficient, and didn’t once say, “I told you so.”

On our third attempt to retrieve this hulking, impossibly heavy piece of furniture from it’s former residence, we finally succeeded. Plus, into that great big truck went an oak chest, a drop-leaf pedestal table, 3 wicker chairs, a desk, a vase and a can of paint.

Next time I’ll start with the box truck.

Here are some photos of what’s at Chartreuse & co right now (including the infamous hutch).

DSC_0657 DSC_0662 DSC_0663 DSC_0666 DSC_0672 DSC_0676 DSC_0680 DSC_0684


DSC_0696 DSC_0697 DSC_0699

DSC_0701 DSC_0703 DSC_0707


DSC_0717 DSC_0723 DSC_0730





Thanks for reading,

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Check out the January 2013 issue of Southern Living magazine, where Chartreuse & co is featured as a great source in their article, “Instant Furniture Makeovers.”

It’s a great article, full of inspiring ideas – but be forewarned, these makeovers aren’t exactly instant. But they’re worth the effort. Here’s a sampling:


Before:  This great little barrel chair definitely needs love, but the shape is great.


After:  I would have done something more fun with the fabric, but now it’s fresh and ready for life in your home.


Before:  Grandma chairs like this are all around.  It’s not exactly inspiring, but search for one with solid construction, and hand-tied deck (the area that underpins the seat).


After:  Love this transformation.  The decorator has ditched the dated (and not very comfortable) overstuffing in the seat-back, and replaced it with a much sleeker look.  The fabric a great, too.  And it’s so much more up-to-date without it’s skirt.


Before:  shabby set of Swedish-style chairs


After:  Love the limed-wood treatment and the oh-so-chic leather seats.


Before:  plain, serviceable sideboard


After:  A great accent for any room.  Here it’s pictured working very nicely in the foyer.  I just love the daring use of color, and the oversized vintage knobs make the piece shine.  (The darling little chair beside it is lovely, too.)


Before:  the always overlooked sewing table.  Yes, there’s a sewing machine inside.


After:  Remove the sewing machine and, (such a great idea!) paper the table with birch-wood patterned wallpaper.  Just love this one.


There’s lots more in the magazine, on news stands now.

Have a Happy New Year, and thanks for reading!


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I just love wrapping presents.  I wrap them, stack them, beribbon them.  It just plain makes me happy.  Here’s a little of what I’ve done this year.

The silk duponi ribbon makes this stack of golden packages shine.

The silk duponi ribbon makes this stack of golden packages shine.


I combined metallic silver mesh ribbon with sheer red for the bow on this one.


The tone-on-tone of this one was a little more masculine (this stack is for Chip).


I actually leave this nativity scene out year round.  It’s beautiful in its own right.


Don’t fear using a big bow or ribbon on a tiny package.  This little box is no more than about 2″x4″, and the bow takes it way up in the “I’ve gotta open this one!” contest.


Always finish off your packages with an extraordinary gift tag.  Think of the tag as the jewelry that completes the outfit.  Whether simple or over-the-top extravagant, the tag makes the package.  Remember – it’s the first thing the recipient looks at.


Mix up the wrapping, and pull your presents together with a coordinated bow.  If you don’t have a gift tag that’ll work, tuck a beautiful card in.


Here’s the riot of packages under our tree right now.  In years past, I’ve used all the same paper and one or two complementary ribbons.  This year the only similarity is the red and gold color scheme.  There are 3 different papers, and countless different ribbons.  I really like this effect.  And it was such fun making each present unique.



Try interspersing your greenery and holiday bling through all of your holiday displays.


The pretty glass angel is a gift I just received this year from my aunt.  She tucked into my holiday greenery so nicely.


I don’t know about you, but I’m very picky about the faces on my statues.  This little Christ Child is just beautiful.  I was so tickled to find him.


Always bring as many candles to your dining table as you can fit.  The light is bewitching, and they’re so festive.  The red ones are a great new find from Bella Villa.   It’s a candle and super-ornate candlestick all created from wax – the entire thing burns.  So cool.


If you love your displays from one season, just tweak it for the next one.  I just loved my sideboard display from fall, so I simply traded out the amber light branches for the frosted white ones.  Then I tucked greenery and glittering silver sprays for a dramatic Christmas effect.

I hope you’re having a warm and peaceful Holiday Season.  It’s actually snowing here today, and we’re having a truly whiter Christmas.  I’m so looking forward to heading out to Christmas Eve Mass in the snow, and walking through the streets of downtown Frederick as it becomes covered in its winter blanket.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Thanks for reading,


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