I'll be back...

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Sorry about being MIA this past week as I've been under the weather. Thanks to everyone who sent me messages and well wishes! I'll be back as usual next week!
Image of Chateau de Chambord roof & gardens.
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Irish Rose

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"There are very few people, just a handful, who have a relationship with their clothes like Daphne Guinness. The Guinness heir and fashion muse doesn't dress up or down. She dresses out"
Featured in the August 2008 issue of Vanity Fair
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Yes we can!

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I was at the inauguration, as many of you kindly asked. I spent the morning at a friend's watching the swearing in, drinking mimosas, then walked down to the national mall hoping to catch just a glimpse of the parade as it passed.
It was a case of being in the right place at the right time. We accidentally went to one of the few gates allowing non-ticket holders onto the route. We happened to be at the front of a line we didn't know existed in the chaos and got ushered to a few available seats in the grandstands! It sounds easy, but this involved about 2 hours of waiting. Just happenstance though...AMAZING signs on a nearby office building read 'welcome Mr. President'. Every building and roof of the surrounding buildings were crowded with viewers.

I wish I could describe to you the atmopshere at the parade other than saying it was magical. I have never met so many warm, friendly people. We were bound together by our excitement of the coming administration, our hope for the future and our FRIGIDITY. While it may not have felt cold at first, being outside in low 30 degree temperatures soon took its tole. It was worth all discomfort though. 2 photos of the crowd surrounding us. It was packed! As the news reported though, due to the cold and long wait, as soon as the president's motorcade past, most of us left the stands and left the parade route. I had to get someplace warm!
Security was tight but everything was managed surprisingly efficiently. While waiting in line the many volunteers tried to keep the crowd entertained with chants and cheers. The hundreds of thousands of spectators were incredibly patient and understanding while we waited in long lines with no clue what was going on, herded together like cattle (which was a blessing as it provided warmth and blocked cold winds). It will be a day I'll never forget and neither will my frozen toes! One of the bands in period costume which preceded the president's motorcade,

While waiting for 2 hours for the parade to begin we all talked about where we came from, the cold, how we spent the morning and did 'the wave' up and down the bleachers while reciting different chants people knew. We were a rowdy part of the crowd, but even the police and army guards seemed to be in on the fun!an antique dc metro bus which led the president's motorcade

I felt like a part of this countries' history and of something bigger than just an individual citizen. I made so many friends waiting in line and while waiting for the parade to begin and was touched by their stories. I'll never know their names but I know many traveled long distances (not 5 blocks like me). A group of women drove all night from Toronto, tickets in hand; an older couple (pictured below with me in the hat) who came up from Texas, an entire family spanning generations from the Czcech Republic who came 1/2 way across the world just to see a parade and hope for the future. I hope you all managed to see some of the inauguration on tv and celebrate with me the hope and faith in the future of our country.
President Barack Obama passing in his motorcade in front of the DC mayor's booth across from us, above and below.
In the video below we took, you can see the president in his limo waving as he drove by. Unfortunately I was at a part of the parade route where the president rode and did not walk. I caught a glimpse of him smiling and waving to us with his little girls. I can't say I blame him because of the cold and his long, tiring day, but we were all a bit disappointed!

The flag of dc which we sat under - we also sat under a huge US flag pictured at the top of the post. All photos taken by myself.
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Mary Pickford and Pickfair

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Mary Pickford was our first real international movie star. Here she is shown above in front of Pickfair, the home she shared with her husband Douglas Fairbanks and spent her life in. She was known as 'America's Sweetheart' and 'the girl with the curls'.
While she rose to fame in the early 1920s, Mary Pickford was born on April 8, 1892 in Toronto as Gladys Smith (not a very glamorous name). She was put to work by her mother to earn a living after her father passed away. She eventually moved on to Broadway in 1907 for a part in The Warrens of Virginia which was written by William Demille, the brother of Cecile B. Demille (who also starred in the play!) I think you can see where this is going.... Her film career spanned from 1909 until 1933 when she retired. She appeared in 236 films during that time period, appearing in 51 films in 1909 alone!Pickford was also a brilliant business woman. She marketed her image in a way seen today by young actresses and celebrities such as Paris Hilton. She was Hollywood's first millionaire - commanding $350,000 a picture and a percentage of the profits by the end of her career. The invention of sound was her undoing though as well as her 'bob' when she cut her hair in 1928. She was no longer able to pull off the young, ingenue roles the public loved to see her in.
Mary Pickford, center, with Loretta Young to the left -hedda hopper can be seen in the background
Mary toured during both world wars selling war bonds and entertaining the troops. She and her 2nd husband, Douglas Fairbanks were seen as 'hollywood royalty' and their home, Pickfair, was seen as it's castle. Mary passed away in 1979 at the age of 87 while still living at Pickfair.
Pickfair was designed by the architect Wallace Neff and was located in the San Ysidro Valley near Los Angeles (1143 Summit Drive). The house featured 22 rooms and had beautiful ceiling frescoes in most of the rooms. It was the first home in Los Angles to feature a swimming pool which was set into a formal garden.
During the 1920s it was, as I mentioned, the capital of Hollywood -where the elite from all over the world were entertained, not just movie stars. Mary Pickford lived there till her death in 1979, although it had become run down. the 'western bar' at pickfair
The actress Pia Zadora later bought the home with her husband and demolished it, building a new one in its place. She claimed it was beyond repair and full of termites after much negative press. The only remaining parts of the mansion are the original gates with the letter P on them. The current mansion was sold for $60 million in 2008.the original gates seen in front of the new mansion.
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Happy Weekend!

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It's spelling bee time at Grey Gardens; Stay warm, everyone!
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Belmont Mansion

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The Belmont mansion, now home to the Order of the Eastern Star's International Temple, is located on an unusual triangular piece of land at 1618 New Hampshire Avenue here in the Dupont circle neighborhood of DC. I've always been fascinated by this building because of it's unusual footprint. a photograph from when the mansion was completed in 1909the mansion seen in the 1920s, behind an old firebell
The mansion was built in the Beaux arts style for Perry Belmont by the French architect Ernest Sanson who did the most grand mansions in France of the time period. Horace Trumbauer was the state side representative who was also the architect of the Elms in Newport, RI that I blogged about last year (you can read the post HERE, it is my favorite mansion in Newport).
the gated entry todaya side view along 18th streetone of the rear rounded corners
The odd shaped lot was $90,000 (a lot for land alone back then!) and the house cost $1.5 MILLION to build and was completed in 1909. The interiors are extremely ornate to this day, so I'm not really surprised at the cost. The home was the headquarters for this past year's Dupont Circle house tour so I was able to see some of the interiors.
the ground floor entrythe grand stairway to the piano nobile
Belmont was a congressman from New York and later became the ambassador to Spain. The house was used to entertain while he was in DC for the winter season. In 1925 Belmont sold the house to the Masons for just $100,000 as he was a member. What a deal as it barely covers the cost of the land!
The plans are fascinating in the way that Sanson dealt with the odd shaped lot. The entry is at the tip of the triangle, making for a very grand entry (a true beaux-arts ideal). Much of the front of the interior is open creating a grand hall and staircase, leading up to the piano nobile and public rooms (technically the '2nd floor'). What is unusual in this plan though, is that the bedrooms for the family are all located on the ground floor - unheard of in those days! The servants rooms are all up in the mansard roof (hidden by a parapet) on the 3rd floor. The main floor
The ground floor plan which has the family and guest bedrooms.
Pics courtesy of NCinDC on flickr
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Harbor Hill - new blog header!

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In case you haven't noticed, I've finally found a blog header. Thats important to me, my blog has felt naked all along! What do you think of it? The image is by the famous architectural firm, McKim, Mead & White, of their project for C.H. Mackey, Harbor Hill. Stanford White was the architect of note and it was the largest home he ever designed.

The house, on Long Island, was built between 1899 and 1902 for Clarence Hungerford Mackay as a weekend/summer home 20 miles east of New York City. The Mackay fortune was from a silver strike in Virginia City, Nevada found by Clarence's father, John William Mackay. John later invested in telegraph and cable companies to gain a fortune estimated at $500 million by 1902 when he died and left everything to Clarence.The house was a collaboration between Standford White (architect) and Clarence's wife, Katherine Duer Mackay. She asked White for books about French chateaux and then later sent him a sketch of a proposed first floor plan with the suggestion he study the Chateau de Maisons by Francois Mansart (1642), seen below. White followed through and based the design on this chateau with a mix of other influences. The house was so expensive that multi-millionaire Clarence wrote White ,"don't suggest any statues of any additions, as I don't want another thing at all"

The original estate was originally comprised of 688 acres. The landscape architect Guy Lowell was brought in to do the landscape. The tallest hill on long island, overlooking hempstead harbor, was flattened to create a view from the back terrace, seen above. I guess they just don't build them like they used to!
Unfortuantely the house and stables were demolished (by hardcore dynamite!) in 1947. The blog, Old Long Island, which I love, has featured the existing estate 6 times. Today the property has Roslyn High School, Roslyn A.N.G. Station and a housing development. The stone main drive entry still exists, now leading to the town pool which utilizes the old entry gate as a snack stand! The water tower, designed by Mckim, Mead and White, stands in the middle of the housing development. An original statue of a horse and rider is now at the front of the Roslyn High School. Four equestrian statues designed by Henri-Leon Greber were saved and sent to Kansas City, Missouri where they are still located in the Country Club Plaza, seen here below.
Clarence's life reads like a soap opera. Besides divorcing his wife in 1914 (she ran off with his doctor in 1910, also leaving the children) -he gained and lost fortunes and befriended fascinating celebrities. His 2nd wife was the opera singer Anna Case whom he wouldn't marry till his first wife died in 1930, despite beginning to date her in 1916 because of his strong catholic faith.
The one thing Clarence Mackey is known for to this day is donating the Mackay trophy in 1911 which is currently on display at the Smithsonian National Air & Space museum here in DC. The award is given each year by the United States Air force for the 'most meritorious flight of the year'
There is a book about the estate, which I have not seen that you can find HERE on Amazon.

You can see great vintage photos of the interior online HERE

History about the house and the family can be found HERE

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The Mercer Museum

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I've already blogged about Fonthill and Mercer Tiles, so now I thought I would show you the showcase of Henry Mercer. Built shortly after his home, Fonthill, he started work on a museum to house his numerous collections of art, tools and Americana. It is a museum, essentially, to the 'hand-made' everyday items that industrialization was pulling us away from. Before we had cars, stereos, ipods and mass-produced clothing and furniture, society had the items displayed here.The building is even more striking than his house. Constructed between 1913 and 1916, the museum reaches 7 stories. An open center atrium was designed to suspend large items and float them for guests to view. Small rooms and alcoves are off the main space with smaller exhibits. Where to look?! Interesting things everywhere! You could spend days here.Of course the building is built entirely of reinforced concrete, same as his other projects and contains over 50,000 artifacts!! The building was created a National Historic Landmark in 1985.

So much to see that it's hard to take it all in!!Here is a fireplace in the museum covered with the famous Mercer tiles.Unlike his home, these windows are framed RIGHT into the concrete, not into wood!

Again -you can visit the museum's website ONLINE. If you are ever in the Philedelphia area, you must visit! It's also a daytrip from NYC as a 2 1/2 hour drive.

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In the Pittsburgh Post Gazette!

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MacKenzie Carpenter wrote a really interesting article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette (my home town!) about some of my favorite bloggers (including me) and the fate of the shelter magazines. Check it out online if you get a chance HERE. One small correction though, I'm actually 28, not 27!
Thanks to the very sweet Heather at Habitually Chic for recommending me to MacKenzie!
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ANOTHER dinner.....

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Are you sick of these table settings yet? It's just fun for me to share! I had a small, informal movie night & dinner last night for a friend (hi Alex and her mom!). As it was a workday with very little time to get ready, I just used the crockpot for the meal and set the table in just 5 minutes when I got home. I try to keep the silver and china all handy, so it can be taken out at a moment's notice. It just makes even a simple dinner an OCCASION!I bought these new gold thread & linen placemats at pottery barn today ( 75% off!) to make the table less formal than a tablecloth. The same antique irish linen napkins as usual, grandmother's silver, my minton dinner plates and my favorite (use it daily) cuckoo pattery by wedgewood for the salad plate. I think it came together nicely! Instead of candles, I just used my small alabaster lamp (sort of like an old fashioned dinner club!).
We watched the Venus Beauty Institute -a WONDERFULLY fun French movie from 1999 that you should all check out (starring Nathalie Baye and Audrey Tautou). I wish you could all have been there!
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