Monday, March 31, 2008


This advice came from none other than British actress Brenda Blethyn who recently played the role of Grace Turner(mother of James McAvoy's Robbie)in Atonement. Brenda was an avid collector at one time(perhaps she still is)and it seems several years ago she especially enjoyed antiquing when she was in Australia filming In The Winter Dark. I found an old issue of BBC Homes & Antiques where Ms. Blethyn told of the one that got away....... As Brenda passed the same quaint little shop in the Blue Mountains each day, she discovered a wonderful treasure; " And I fell in love with the most exquisite Art Deco dancing lady holding a ball. But I dithered. We were two hours from Sydney and that long flight home. The piece was heavy and quite expensive, too. On last day of filming, the chief make-up artist invited the cast to her home for lunch. And there, in the middle of the table was my dancing lady. I couldn't say anything, of course, except how lovely she was. But oh, the regret..."

Can I ever relate to this. I've lost count of how many times I've seen something that I really wanted but for some reason just didn't buy it at that moment only to literally return to the store a week or sometimes even only a day or two later and of course it would be gone. I've learned my lesson about this and one of the last really good purchases I made I only pondered on for about an hour before taking the plunge and buying an older edition of John Ruskin's Modern Painters. Just how old the book was I wasn't sure of because the description on the ad didn't say. I wasn't particularly looking for an old edition of this book but wanted desperately to read it and was perfectly content to buy a modern version when I found this great little book on ebay. I was so taken with the Art Nouveau gold floral design and loved the flowers wrapped with a pale blue ribbon on the cover. I decided to take the plunge and make the purchase. I'm so glad that I did because when the book arrived,the first thing I saw when opening the cover was an inscription to one Nanna Morton with the date December 25, 1900. I wonder what Ms. Morton thought of her treasure that Christmas, how often she read it, and how it possibly changed her life in some way. This book was indeed considered "The Bible" for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood of artists based out of England in the mid to late 1800's, whom I happen to have a rather unhealthy obsession with. I knew the read would be very engaging and it certainly has been. Yes, I'm so glad I followed my instinct and made this purchase.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


"In this drama based on the critically acclaimed novel by Ian McEwan, a childhood lie irrevocably changes the lives of several people."

My husband, John, and I first watched this movie a couple of weeks ago and watched it again last night. It's certainly the type of movie to watch more than once. This is one of the most provocative and heart-wrenching films that I've seen in ages. I have not read the novel so I knew only a little of the subject matter ( not for younger viewers). I was so taken with the cinematography and beauty of the costumes. Kiera Knightley's now infamous green dress ( as seen in one of the above photographs)is extraordinary! I will not write too much about the plot as to not spoil it for those who have not read the book or seen the film but I will comment that James McAvoy's performance as the ill-fated Robbie is nothing short of brilliant. He is fast becoming one of my favorite actors. I dare say that Kiera Knightley also surprised me in her role as Cecilia. She is a strikingly beautiful woman and her acting has certainly come a long way. The girl portraying young Briony, Saoirse Ronan, is astonishingly captivating and a true pleasure to watch. I have little doubt that we will be seeing this young girl in many more films to come. Another interesting fact about this film is that the scenes of the beautiful Tallis estate were actually filmed on location at Stokesay Court , an 1891 Manor House in Shropshire, England. The Production Company actually paid to renovate a large portion of the house just for the film. Extraordinary! Please take the time to go to and visit Stokesay Court's Website. There, you can read about the history of this most interesting estate.

Friday, March 28, 2008

To help endure the bleak rainy day we're having....

I wanted to offer a glimpse of the opulence of the Grand Dame of The Gilded Age, Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. These photos were taken a few years ago on our first Tea Society Weekend getaway and my goodness what a wonderful time that was! We were wined and dined at The Historic Beaufort House Victorian Inn And what a surprise it was to arrive on the day of a wedding under the Wisteria laden pergola in the garden. We had a wonderful unobtrusive view from the white rocking chairs on the front porch. Besides the wedding party, who certainly made themselves scarce, we felt as though we had the run of the Inn. I would love to be there right now!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

This is such a nice reminder that Spring is finally here and that very soon the fragrant blooms of my treasured Wisteria will be perfuming the air in our little courtyard. This photo was from last year before a wretched late freeze killed the massive grape clusters on the vine as well as the buds on my Nikko Blue Hydrangea. I was devastated to say the least.

I am Elizabeth Bennet!

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At long last I've gotten 'round to posting a picture from our Murder Mystery Dinner from October 2007. The theme was The Hollywood Premiere of Powar and Greede. Seen here are Tea Society members, Darleen Chamberlain and Polly Singer. Polly is our newest member and is a well known hat designer. Her business, All you need is Love Hats and Veils, is found under the links portion of this blog. Polly also won a free tea voucher for dressing in the most glamorous costume. What a night of laughs we had!