Friday, February 22, 2013


Today is a glorious sunny crisp Southern California Day. The birds are singing; the trees are just beginning to get little fat nubs; it's Friday so no freeways for me; my children are healthy and growing (not always comfortable). the grand babies and grand teenagers are mellow for the moment and life is good.
Yes, there are always things that I wish were avocados for me right now. No more potatoes, etc. ever...
When I'm grateful for all of the details (and I do mean all--even the not so great ones) life just seems to hummmmmm along. I'm connected to all that is life giving; my creativity blooms; joy fills me and I begin to wonder what is next on the horizon.
I have a little trick that I try to remember to do every night once I climb into bed: as I'm falling asleep, I start listing all of the details in life that I am grateful for. All of the tiny blessing that I so often take for granted.......I fall asleep so quickly and the miracle is that in the morning (or even in the middle of the night) I awaken so full of life that it is hard to remember a negative thought.
I can definitely be a Polly Ana, and yes, there are times when it takes me a huge amount of effort to start being thankful. And there are times when I am not quite ready to forgive--which is when gratitude becomes a steep ascent.

Have a wonderful almost spring week-end.

Mary & Jones (poor Cole is becoming arthritic)
 who is always grateful for a run in the P-A-R-K   (yes,he knows how to spell it). 

Monday, February 18, 2013


Meg of Pigtown Design (one of my favorite blogs) posted about the newly revamped T Magazine (New York Times). And the first photos had me from the get-go. Being raised in Central Mexico (just south of Mexico City) and then living in Spain for seven years, I have a huge spot in my soul that craves Mexican and Spanish architecture, design and way of living; the photos accompanying the article on Merida, Yucatan nailed that spot and set me to yearning.
The photo above show the bedroom of a hacienda in Merida. It could represent any of the bedrooms of my childhood friends who lived in the Belle Epoque homes of Mexico City. Completely minimal and highly sophisticated. Each element of this room is a sculptural or cultural statement and there are no apologies for what seems to be a lack of "perfection" in one element--the whole is perfectly balanced.
Compare this room with the bedroom of the London Designer Rose Uniacke, who is also featured in this edition of T-Magazine.

I'll do a couple of other counterpoint from these two articles:

The upper photo shows a fragment of the restored garden of a Merida Hacienda. The lower photo details the solarium of Rose Uniacke's London home. The feeling/mood of the spaces is so similar that you might think they were connected.

And here are a couple more side-by-sides:

If I close my eyes and ignore the gorgeous orange of the Merida space, the souls of these two spaces unite.

This is the style, design aesthetic that I have been waiting to see on the horizon. Could it be that with these two spaces, who (I use "who" intentionally as these rooms seem to breathe) are many miles apart, we are on the cusp of a new aesthetic? Both of these homes reflect elements of Axel Vervoordt's design aesthetic, but they also add freshness to the conversation. (Remember that Spain controlled parts of The Netherlands which included parts of Belgium in the 16th c.; so there is a sisterhood in the artistic elements of these countries). I can't wait to see this blending of classic antique neoclassical and baroque elements with a modern touch--always retaining the souls of the space and the furnishings.

Jones is out of the dog house and back to his usual duties.

Have a wonderful Presidents' Day!!

Mary and Jones (& Cole)

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Jones has two important jobs. 
No. 1 he must greet all  prospective clients promptly and with his most charming manners firmly in place. He has acquired a large following with past customers coming in to visit him regularly. And he really knows how to work it.
His second job is to protect the cats. Primarily he protects Maddy (7-8 lbs.) from Mini (about 23 lbs.) and he never fails to settle their fights quickly and effectively.
But lately, we have had a big tom cat visitor who would love to join the menagerie inside. However, this visitor is about as big as Mini and meaner than a raging bull. He even goes after Jones (who is not small) whenever he chooses to trespass in the back yard.
A couple of days ago Jones had had enough of being bullied. So, in dog fashion, he showed the cat who was boss: 

Notice Jones' perfect tracking form in the 1st photo. Then he catches the scent. Finally he pees on the exact spot where the cat had sprayed. Yes, that was the answer--just a good covering act.

Mr. Jones is still not forgiven for his latest mess:

And finally look at the Desk leather restoration--it is perfect and the artisan even replicated the original patina. Compare the before and then the after photos.


Roberto will finish the desk tomorrow. And it is set to go.

Auction Update:
I bought some great smalls and a very large carved decorative mirror plus a pair of cool mid-century brass lamps. However, because I was talking to a friend and after waiting patiently for a particular pair of (great Japanese lacquer) tables to come to the block, I lost my focus and away they went to some one else.... Life is all in the details and focus plays a huge role. And sometimes just showing up is enough.

Jones sends love from the "dog" house.
Be well.


We (in Southern California) are finally to the point, weather-wise, when a warm homemade soup is what I start craving.
On Friday, with my daughter coming over, I decided to experiment with some ingredients that I had left over from another recipe:

The Prep Time was about 10 minutes; Total Time 35 minutes.
3 Links (1/2 lb.) Hot or Mild or Mixed Italian Sausage 
   (search for a sausage with the least amount of 
   fat and either organic or no chemicals added)
1/2 c. washed lentils
1 lb. package frozen black-eyed peas
6 oz. organic whole baby carrots
       (I didn't have any on hand this time) 
1/4 t. French Herbs
1/4 t. Fennel Seeds
1/4 t Whole Cloves
1/4 t. Rosemary
Chopped organic Italian Parsley for garnish

Soak the lentils for about 3-4 hours; Drain lentils; Add frozen black-eyed peas and cover with water. Add the spices and stir to disperse spices. Place the Italian sausages on top of beans. Bring soup to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the sausages are partially cooked; remove sausages and slice into bite-sized pieces and return to soup. Bring soup to boil and reduce heat and skim the rising foam from surface of the soup. Simmer for about 20 minutes (or until the beans and lentils are very soft.
And Voila!!  
Note: I use very little salt; so you will have to add sea salt to taste.
Jones loves lentil and carrot soup--the spices, not so much.

Mary and Jones (& Cole)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Today started out as a perfect day--beautifully sunny and clear with just a hint of crispness. 
And then...........I came out of the shower to find that my wonderful, sweet Jones had once again gone on the DESTROY THE HOUSE binge!!! (Note: Jones is always perfectly behaved when I leave him home ALONE. These shred the trash binges occur when he wants my negative attention......just like a 5 year old boy. I even took photos to post......
Then it progressed to a super productive day with Roberto finishing the restoration of the desk and the Edwardian side cabinets..........
My leather restorer turned out to be a master....and Roberto's work was perfect......And I took photos, actually pretty good photos.......
The day further progressed to my being slammed (and out of the blue and for no reason) by another dealer--I won't go into the gory details, but it was not a pretty experience.
Then my favorite clients came in while I was trying to settle my feathers...........
So no photos and hopefully the camera is where I think that I left it.
But ha-ha!(and the best way to settle my feathers)
There are a couple of things that I'm drooling over. But perhaps I'll be prudent and conservative after my excesses of last week.......
I spent a huge amount of money on vintage bronze 8" and 6" signage letters....they are pretty cool, but I definitely was not conservative. I hope that some one or a few some ones love bronze letters... (also took photos of the letters, but they are in the camera that I hope is still where I think I left it after I got my feathers ruffled.....

But tomorrow we start anew. No more ruffled feathers and (hopefully) a forgiving heart. It might take a few more days to process this one.

Jones says that he is sorry for making the MESS. (I doubt it)

Mary and Jones (& Cole)
...Oops......I forgot the worst part of the day. I just finished "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" trilogy. I read all 2200 (more or less) pages of the three books strait through. These characters have become my best friends and I am going to miss them terribly...Mikael, Lizabeth, Armansky and Erika, farewell.
PPS........I also forgot to mention that my toilet got stopped up this morning (always a sign that things might not go as planned).
PPPS......found the camera on my dining room table--my feathers must still be ruffled as I took the photos of Jones' mess after I got home!!
                     WHAT A DAY

Friday, February 8, 2013


This is the type of rainy day that we are having today and I am loving it!! Time to organize a bit, cook a bit, not feel guilty about not driving the freeways--just chill.
However, I realize that it is a question of perspective:

This is the way I feel

  This is the way Maddy feels:

And I think that this is way a lot of birds feel:

Jones isn't too crazy about the rain either (the Park is closed).

But for those of us who suffer through the parched California months without rain, this is a day to treasure.
My thoughts and prayers are with you North Easterners and the approaching blizzard. Stay inside and warm and safe.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


One of the reasons that I love this crazy business so much is that every item that I buy provides an adventure in learning and, unfortunately, relearning those lessons that I should have remembered the first time.....
My erstwhile "George III" double pedestal desk is a good example. But this time around I'm learning something new and I have found an affordable leather restorer..... I probably would have passed on this desk if I had really studied the damage to the original leather top (it is all in the details).  But being fearless in the adventure category, once I owned the desk I have been determined to find an AFFORDABLE leather restorer who could rejuvenate the 150 year old surface and match the surface color to the spot where some neglectful person had placed their plant and allowed water to damage the leather.  AND I FOUND HIM. Darren will restore the leather and match the color where the plant had stood. With a desk as large as this one, replacing the leather top would involve not only replacing the actual leather, but also tooling the edges in gold leaf which is exceedingly expensive as is using a split hide. Best of all, the leather will retain its natural patina. And I will have Darren as a new partner in crime.



The top photo shows the image of the brass and glass tables that I grabbed from And voila, the bottom photo shows the new finial on my almost  identical brass and glass nesting tables. I know that the finials are different; but this one will "do" until I find  the perfect of all, I found it hiding on a mid-20th c. french porcelain lamp that sits beside my bed... I'm taking the table and finial to Carlos to make the appropriate fittings.

Over the past six weeks I have learned that I am highly allergic to the "night shade" vegetables and fruits. Of course, all of my favorite vegetables and fruits happen to fall into this category and I can no longer eat any more of my famous Christmas nut cookies (I think that is what really did the sinking); no more avocados or just about anything else that is fit to eat. Plus I'm gluten sensitive......  But I'm learning how to cook what I can eat and enjoying the process--who knew that lentil and carrot soup made with fennel and a touch of cloves and a little salt would be delicious?? I would love to add a tablespoon of sour cream, but since that is no longer an option--I'm good.
I am simply grateful to be back on my feet and able to do what I love to do. (Lost about 10 lbs.--I've decided to make lemonade)
I think that this six weeks' "break" has been good for my soul--I've started designing pillows again and went to visit Pam at Fine Details this morning. We have started the process of creating a pair of 17th c. Flemish tapestry with a fruit motif pillows. The antique tapestry fragments are quite large for each pillow--about 15 x 13--so these should be pretty impressive pillows. I'm not going the usual route, but using a gorgeous Venetian striped "cut" velvet with gold bands as backing and using an antique patinated 19th c. French metallic fringe. When I go back next week, Pam will have blocked the pillows out on a "dummy" striped fabric and we will determine the final sizing and order the 50-50 down fillers. It is definitely a creative process and I am so fortunate to have found Pam who loves working with fine textiles.
Tomorrow Jones and I are previewing my Thursday auction--hopefully, I will be more focused and paying closer attention to the details.

Be well.
Mary & Jones (and Cole)