Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Treasuring the British Museum

I want to go live at the British Museum for awhile. Like the little girl who runs away from home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

That might be a little tough to pull off, but if I can't move in, I'd at least like a week to explore and sketch.

Seven million objects, and I only had time to sketch one!

So many fascinating treasures--over seven million to be exact!

The day we gave ourselves to explore certainly wasn't close to adequate for even a glimpse. I didn't know where to look, beauty and wonder were everywhere.

Walking through it is like seeing the history of the world unfold before your eyes.

The collection began with physician and naturalist Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), who acquired over 71,000 objects over the course of his life, and wanted them to remain intact. He willed them all to King George II and through an act of Parliament, the British Museum was created in 1753. It opened to the public in 1759 on the same site where today's museum is located. Admission was freely given to all "studious and curious Persons."

Except for the two World Wars, the British Museum has been open ever since with visits growing from 5,000 people each year to 6 million a year today.

The original collection consisted mostly of books, manuscripts, natural specimens and a few antiquities.

Today's seven million objects include the Rosetta Stone, The Elgin Marbles (from the Parthenon), objects that illustrate ancient life in the Nile Valley and Medieval culture in Europe. Prehistoric tools. Buddhist paintings from the Dunhuang caves in Central Asia.

The dome over the Great Court (the largest covered public square in Europe) is a marvel in itself...

The collection of blue and white ceramics alone deserve their own post (stay tuned for that). Who wants to go on a field trip?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Make The Season Bright

Happy Monday, friends...how did you spend your Thanksgiving weekend? We made our way to Whidbey Island after celebrating the holiday with family (perfect, except for the small matter of Lila, my parents' terrier, who decided to help herself to the apple pie, nose first). We recharged our batteries for the holiday bustle with long walks on the beach, listening to the rush and whisper of waves on the sand and even basking in a little sun. But now, back at home, I'm gearing up to make the season bright.

Image from Carolyne Roehm 

And of course, it all starts with the tree.

Image from Traditional Home

How do you decorate your tree? Do you stick to a theme or color? 

Image from Traditional Home

I admire trees that have a well-planned look or theme. 

Image from Martha Stewart

Apparently, Jackie Kennedy started the tradition of having a themed tree at the White House in 1961 with a "Nutcraker Suite" tree.

President and Mrs. Kennedy with the 1961 White House tree.

When I first started collecting ornaments for a my own Christmas tree, I had great intentions for a styled tree with the perfectly edited selection of decorations in a uniform color palette.

 Image from New York Social Diary

But I'm such a magpie. My collection turned out to be quite eclectic--more like this tree from Benjamin Bradley that I found on New York Social Diary.

 Image from Carolyne Roehm

Just like any other aspect of decorating your home, it seems best to just work with what you love. So I start preparing for Christmas by thinking about how to best use things I already have as the center for our holiday decorations.

Image from Traditional Home

Like a collection of blue and white... 

Image from Veranda

...or vintage mercury glass.

Image from Traditional Home 


Image from dear departed Domino

Image from Veranda

...or antique mirrors.

Image from Veranda
My favorite part of decking the halls is bringing the outdoors in. We're indoors so much this time of year that the smell of pine and cedar, or the sight of bowers of greens and other natural elements are very welcome.

Image from Martha Stewart

Image from Traditional Home

And it doesn't have to be over-the top or expensive. This image from Eddie Ross inspired a similar touch for my dining room window last year-- I love the red ribbon against the green leaves. 

 Image from Eddie Ross

This stairwell, also decked out by Eddie Ross, makes me want to steal branches from the magnolia tree in our front yard this year... 
 Image from Eddie Ross 

 Flowers add the perfect bit of color to a table top. Red carnations or roses....

  Image from Traditional Home
Or white...
 Image from Martha Stewart

I think white narcisus are my favorite holiday flower...

 Image from Veranda 

Of course, you can't forget the outdoors, either.  I love these porch and door ideas....

  Image from Martha Stewart
...they are so welcoming and beautiful.

  Image from Eddie Ross 

I guess it's time to roll up the sleeves and get to work. How are you planning to deck your halls this season?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving! How are you celebrating? I hope with dear ones.

I want to thank everyone who has been reading "I Dream Of" over the past couple months. I'm very thankful to have a creative outlet and way to share things that catch my eye or capture my imagination. And I'm thankful for my new "blog friends" -- this medium is proving to be such a fun way to connect with others. You all make me smile.

My favorite way to to say thanks is to paint a little note that hopefully reflects back what I appreciate about someone--their thoughtfulness, their personality, their talents, or a fantastic evening shared. I'm hoping that for all of you a virtual thank you note will suffice.

Here are a few of my favorites to thank you for stopping by!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Inspired By...Powerful Story Telling

Hi everyone, are you excited for a long Thanksgiving weekend? I'm feeling very thankful for my life. My family, my friends, the beautiful city I live in, my mom's pumpkin pie...so many blessings to count! I love this time of year because we get to stop and think about what's important. We are reminded to be grateful, and to share with others.

 Image from SeeYourImpact.org

Last week, my friends Jill and Raj introduced me to an organization that they support called SeeYourImpact. You give a gift, 100% goes to a cause that you choose, and in two weeks, you get to see exactly how your gift changed a life.

Image from SeeYourImpact.org

Today I had some time to play around on the SeeYourImpact site, and found myself addicted. They make it so easy to give--many of the options are for small amounts that might not add up to much for a lot of people--a few lattes, what we spend on lunch or dinner out. You get to choose what's important to you. Children. Women. Health. Education. Or a place in the world you want to support. Africa. The Americas... there are so many places and ways to have an impact.

 The Beng family has clean water (Image from SeeYourImpact.org).

To me, the most compelling thing about SeeYourImpact is the story telling. As you click around their site, you see stories of how people's lives have changed because of the gifts of so many generous people.

 Joseph after receiving his vaccines in Gashanda (Image from SeeYourImpact.org).

When you think about the all negative stories we are bombarded with every day...how sad and hopeless the world seems sometimes... To see so many compelling and positive examples of small things that make a difference in the lives of real people... How powerful is that? We can't all be Oprah, or Bill Gates. But we all have something to give.

Image from SeeYourImpact.org

I also love how personal the gift can be--that you can find something that resonates and is meaningful to you. As I clicked around, I came across the story about supporting prolonged dental health of children in the Dominican Republic. I'm sure for most people, dental health doesn't seem like the most pressing global health issue. 

 Image from SeeYourImpact.org

But my dad is a retired dentist. This has been a tough week for a few of my friends who are dealing with the loss or the illness of their fathers. I feel so thankful that at 83, my dad is still in good health and that I get to celebrate Thanksgiving with him tomorrow. So being able to give to something that makes me think of him, that's related to how he helped others through his life and profession...Wow. I'm so grateful for that opportunity.
 Image from SeeYourImpact.org

I'm feeling thankful that I can do something, even something quite small, to make a difference in someone's life. I think we all have that ability--whether it's $10 that could save a child's life with a mosquito net, or just a kind word or a smile, the gifts we give have an impact. They do create a better story.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Beautiful Balenciaga

This post is for PVE, who is dreaming of traveling to Spain. And doesn't that sound delicious? (Especially after a snowy day in Seattle!) If you have plans to visit Manhattan anytime soon, you can get a little hit of Spain by taking in the "Balenciaga: Spanish Master" exhibition at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute on Park Avenue.

Image from Vogue.com

The exhibition, curated by Vogue's dashing Hamish Bowles, opened last Friday and runs through February 19. (Mr. Bowles also curated the stunning Jacqueline Kennedy exhibit at the Met in 2001.)

Hamish Bowles with Annette de la Renta at a party celebration the exhibit (image Vogue.com)

Although Cristóbal Balenciaga rose to fame after establishing his fashion house in Paris, where he fled from the Spain's civil war in 1937, his first haute couture house opened in San Sebastian. The influence that his home country held over his work can be seen in the more than 70 dresses and accessories that are on display in the exhibition.

A photo from the installation (image from the New York Times)

The court paintings of Velázquez, the Catholic church, flamenco, and bull fighters--all of these influences resonate through Balenciaga's collections.

Left, a Flamenco-inspired dress from 1951; An evening look with toreador bolero from 1946 (images from New York Magazine). 

Bowles told Vogue's Jessica Kerwin Jenkin's that in researching the house's archives, "I saw endless Spanish resonance."

Balenciaga “Infanta” evening dress, 1939 (left); Balenciaga evening dress and stole, 1952(images from New York Magazine).

The idea for the exhibition came from Oscar de la Renta, who started his career at Balenciaga. You can see the influence his Spring 2011 collection.

Image from Vogue.com

"A little bit of Baleciaga," he said to Bowles backstage following his Spring 2011 show, which held echos of 1950s Madrid.

Image from Vogue.com

Image from Vogue.com

Image from Vogue.com 

For those of us on the West Coast, an expanded exhibition travels to the de Young Museum in San Francisco in March. More on the exhibition here and here.


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