Hat attack

I have been getting more deeply and deeply attached to hats as the summer wears on, they create shade, keep your face, neck, scalp and sometimes even shoulders from getting sunburned and as an added bonus you get to look like a french gardener just stepped out of a Monet or Mary Cassat.

Wide brimmed straw hats are about the easiest thing to find at thrift or vintage stores and they are always cheap cheap cheap. This one had little silver stars hot glued all over it, unfortunately i didn't get a before photo because i couldn't wait to pick them all off, i did it on the subway home! Straw hats at thrift stores are normally covered with junky plastic flowers or worse, so you need to just focus on shape and quality of straw.

This one had some horizontal rips that are easily sewn closed with a good strong embroidery thread, like my favorite from Purl.

Oddly enough, straw hats are easy to resize. I have a big head and vintage hats are normally give me a headache because they're so tight. With a straw hat, all you need to do to make it bigger is to gingerly remove the inner band if there is one, get the hat wet and then pull it down on you head while wet. Straw is very flexible and will stretch to your head shape relatively quickly, within about 20 min. Then you can stuff it with newspaper or plastic bags and let it dry overnight. I love 100% silk ribbons and shopping for them always makes me feel like Elizabeth Bennett in "Pride and Prejudice". To dress up my custom fitted hat, I cut a length of silk ribbon from Tinsel Trading (they are having an amazing sale, if you live in the city you must go now!) and tightly wrapped it around the crown of the hat, taking care to snuggly tack at the center back and around the bottom so the ribbon won't slip.Make a "fake bow" and attach over the back seam.


Not always do I want to be a french gardener, however (okay, i think i always want to be a french gardener, but sometimes i want to wear less girlie hats).

I found a straw newsboy hat that reminds me of Mickie Rooney in my favorite kid's movie, National Velvet. I collect horse show ribbons and had a broken one so i though I'd give it a go.

Oh they make me swoon.



I got this one at an antique store, you can't find big lots of them on ebay all the time. The back had separated off and I wasn't crazy about the center button, plus it is really big and not exactly useful.

I attached a vintage brass dog's head to the center as a homage to my dear old Puck, plus I think it's cute because rosettes are such horse things, it's unexpected to find a dog in the center.



Now I just need to find a shady tree and eat a turkey sandwich with a big old glass of ice tea wearing my newly cute hats, one for me, one for my sister and life will be good.

Hot hot heat.

Today I had the most lovely, lovely day with Ginny Branch. She's got some amazing photos of the adventure that she'll post in a few days, so I'll not spoil the surprise but when i got home I was so inconceivably hot.

So happy my mother gave me this amazingly strong, industrial hunter fan from maybe the 30's? It's quiet and oh so refreshing, I can't believe I've spent 6 whole summers in the city with no A.C. or fan. Ouch. So glad the self induced suffering is over.

While I'm in sweet summer time mode, here's a glimpse of my recent trip to a neat butterfly conservatory while visiting home. These chrysalis' look like little glass lanterns, so beautiful.

Now i haven't always been very excited by butterflies, but it was lovely to be able to get so close and see so many. They are just so delicate and feminine.

As Ginny and I discussed today, it's so wonderful to finally accept summer as a season that has so much to offer if you can just grit your teeth and not wilt in the sun.

I normally dread the sky high heat index all year long, but it is SO lovely when you can slow down and do summer right.

Farmers market fruit, butterflies, big straw hats, freckles, orangina and a big, beautiful, strong fan.

Longwood Gardens

My darling older sister, Michelle, is visiting from LA and it is so wonderful to have some much needed sister bonding time. This shamelessly cute photo is from my ALL TIME favorite garden and second favorite place on earth, Longwood Gardens. I'm little one with the big ol' hairbow, some things never change.

Longwood was Pierre Du Pont's summer playground dating from 1906. Fountains, topiaries, castles, conservatories, little girl's total fantasy. I spent my birthday last week exploring the old stomping grounds again.
Alice in Wonderland much?

The waterlilies are just astounding. Longwood is like living in a Monet.

This is a section of Du Pont's house. I am such a sucker for ivy on brick and i adore how this is so wild but very maintained.

Yes, this is what i want my living room to look like.

Just your average castle turret and waterfall combo.

An amazing little boy playing in the fountains. My poor mom and dad had to drag Michelle and I out of these things after hours of fun.

Some sections of Longwood feel like Versailles and some the Petit Trianon. Good thing I am obsessed with Marie Antoinette. Read this book years ago and have since been smitten.

What a good place to spend a birthday. Hip hip hurray!

Summer's best treats...

Picked raspberries from our property in Maryland.
blackberries, too.

Total heaven.

Back in Brooklyn, my windowsill tomatoes have ripened!

Hurray for july!

dockside feast.

So happy i went to maryland for the week.

yum yum yum.

the st. michael's lighthouse. oh so wonderful to get away.

New York: a case of gold trees and beer saloons.

I love fireworks, especially the glittery kind that turn into gold weeping willow trees as they slowly fade. I parked myself on  a little stoop in Williamsburg and let them restore some new york excitement and energy back into my days.

And an entry from my great great grandmother Ella shows she also experienced some New York excitement when she visited here before she boarded her ship to Europe.

New York April 15th 1880

"Our host, Mr. Weston, insisted on taking us sightseeing and I certainly never enjoyed an afternoon and evening more. We first went to the Equitable Insurance building, took the elevator to the 8th floor and then climbed away up to the very top where we got a fine view of the city and surroundings. Then we went to the very end of the finest elevated railway in the city- up to Long Bridge through which water is conducted from the Croton River to the city- back to the museum at the entrance of Central Park. Central Park in beautiful- every turn in the walks gives one a pleasant surprise. Last night we had the rare treat of hearing Edwin Booth in Hamlet. The memory of our visit with Mr. Weston will be one of the happiest I have to take away. New York is the busiest, noisiest city I ever saw, bad odors and lager beer saloons prevail in the business part. Broadway is literally thronged with people all the time but the streets are laid out quite regularly and we saw many magnificent buildings. The city seems perfect piles mountains high of buildings. One is constantly besieged to buy in passing the stores and markets."
Sunday is my birthday, so i'm headed away for a few days to decompress from decompressing. But it's a comfort to know the city will be the same as I left it, Broadway is still too darn packed with people and the side walks can still smell wretchedly.

the chick, the egg or the scrambled egg?



Baffled but hungry for brunch none the less.

ale and quail

After the annual ale and quail society meeting that takes place at elmwood every year.......
one can peruse the family's ancient collection of bibles to beg forgiveness for their gluttony.

Members of the fern family

Potted a new plant today, a maidenhair fern. I love their delicate little leaves and how they flutter with the slightest movement. I've always been smitten by ferns, I think i get it from my mother. Ferns in all forms- live ferns, fern illustrations, pressed ferns (as displayed in the museum of natural history).


I can relate to the Victorians who coined the term pteridomania defined as a madness, craze, or strong fancy, for ferns.

My great great grandmother Ella, a botany student, surely studied ferns in the Wellesley greenhouses and drew them in her botanical sketchbook, perhaps inspired by this popular book.

Wellesley College Sept 22th 1878

"Nellie and I went over to the gardens where the fall flowers are just in their prime. I think the display fully equaled anything I've ever seen there in the spring....Yesterday we began our first painting or rather first drawing lesson. I'm about discouraged. She gave me a branch of maple leaves which were fearful to draw and the wind kept on blowing them every which way."


Wellesley College Sept 13th 1878

"Nellie and I washed this PM. Had a long letter from Minnie. I've got my studies all arranged but presume they won't stay so for long. It is dreadfully hard for me to study after being out so long and the weather is fearful, hot and damp, so everything sticks."

Wellesley College Oct 16th 1878

"Miss Howard announced this morning that Wellesley College has been awarded a silver medal at the Paris Exposition- the highest award to any female college. A hundred dollars has been raised for the purchase of a large and fine collection of seashells. They were collected, many of them at great expense, by a lady in Cambridge- circumstances forced her to sell them and the ladies of C. have contributed 400 dollars and will give them to any institution which will give 100- I hope we shall get them. The chemistry examin. was splendid last night. I only had one mistake on my paper and Miss Hallowell complimented my botany sketchbook very highly."

Wellesley College Oct 27th 1878

"Miss Nelson said this morning that she would be going to dine next Saturday at the Parker House with four prominent biologists- Ha! Ha! All gentleman.


Oh friends- the journal entries go on and on. She has now decided to move to South Africa to teach and is touring Europe before she settles into her post.

Stay tuned. She meets a boy and sparks fly....