Thursday, April 30, 2015

Charlotte Moss in Charlottesville

Yesterday was one of those days that was just too much fun.  Sadly, we don't have too many of these types, but when we do, wow!  I had been looking forward to this for months and it didn't disappoint.  The weather even cooperated and it was a perfect 70 degree day, sunny, blue skies, no humidity and even the wind stopped for Charlotte in Charlottesville.

 My friend Molly and I drove to Farmington, one of the most historic country clubs around, for a lecture with Charlotte Moss about her new book.  She was wonderful!  Being from near-by Richmond she must have felt right at home and talked a bit about visiting the gardens of Jefferson's famed Monticello which is only a few miles away.  The book is even better than expected and if you love decorating, gardens, gardening or anything "Charlotte" you need to add this one to your collection. It will take many hours to go through this one, there is a lot of substance here.
The event was sponsored by the Albemarle Garden Club, based in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Here's the book in case you have not seen it. The book is large, the photos are lovely and large and the text has substance which you don't always get in a coffee table book.

This is the front of the Farmington Country Club, it is lovely beyond words. This part was designed by Thomas Jefferson in 1802.

 There were many vendors, fantastic shopping, very tasteful items ranging from clothes jewelry, art, shoes, needlepoint, lamps, lampshades, pillows, and decorative objects. The themes seemed to be animals, gardens, and flowers. It was crowded so I was not able to get good photos.  My friend Nancy came with her Chapel Hill Needlpoint and had some lovely things.  She seemed to be selling a lot.

 It was nice to see so many well-dressed women in one place. I have not seen this much Ferragamo, Hermes, and Tory Burch in one place in a while.
This was the center table in the room with the vendors. The entire place was dripping with taste.
What a fun day!  I wish we could do it all over again!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Maryland Hunt Cup

It's the most grueling, difficult, extreme test of horse and rider in this country and hardly anyone knows about it anymore. It's our "Grand National" and only the best of the best and the most daring will even attempt it. Do you know what it is or where it is?  Most do not. 

 2013 Maryland Hunt Cup Winner (Wikipedia)

In 1894, the members of the Elkridge Fox Hunting Club in Maryland challenged the members of Green Spring Valley Hunt Club to a timber race, hence the first Maryland Hunt Cup. The race organizers wanted the race to be run over natural hunting country; ridden by amateurs; and have no commercial activity.  The race has been run every year since 1894 with the exception of the years during the Second World War.  The race is always run the last Saturday in April. There are no restrictions of where the horse and rider are from but the race is still limited to amateur riders. Women were admitted to ride in the late 1970's with the first winner coming in 1981, Joy Slater on Cancottage.  She repeated the win in 1982.

In 1922, Worthington Valley became the permanent home of the four mile, twenty-two timber fence racecourse.  And it still stands today as the proud monument to the sport that its original founders intended. Eight horses have won the race three times and no horse has won it four times.  It is considered one of the most difficult horse races in the world. Two undefeated winners went on to win the Grand National in England, Jay Trump (1963, 1964 and 1966) and Ben Nevis II (1977, 1978). Both horses are now in the Hall of Fame.

The timber fences on the course are astoundingly high and solid.  They do not come down.  Some fences are close to five feet tall.


Over the years the Thoroughbreds have won the race, as you'd expect.  Some have had royal pedigrees, Blockade, the winner in 1938, 1939 and 1940 was sired by the famous Man 'o War.  Mountain Dew, a three-time winner was out of a mare by War Admiral.  But others came from more humble beginnings.  The sire of the famous Jay Trump raced at the relatively unknown Charles Town track in near-by West Virginia. 

Photo from the 1960's (Pinterest)

I went to the race once in the late 1990's.  It was not well attended and it can be damp and cold but that day it was sunny and bright.  We tailgated and watched the race with good friends. This is not a race for drunken tailgaters. Those who attend come to watch the horses and the real test is just to finish.

There is an INCREDIBLE story this week in the Washington Post.  Please read it.  It's one of those stories that there's no logical explanation for and you realize that there are sometimes other factors at work beyond our control that cannot be rationally explained.
Read the story here.

If in Maryland in late April please go see this race.  It is an amazing day, watching these horses in the beautiful setting in the Maryland hunt country.  Close your eyes and think back more than 100 years.  Not much has changed at this venue.  Thank goodness.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Horse Show Heaven

It was sleeting, cold, damp, but there was a rainbow over my head on Saturday afternoon as Alfie and I made our first attempt to show this season after a long hiatus.  It was mid-November when I last jumped a course of jumps but my black boy did not let me down. Thank goodness we were indoors.  He brought him three blues, a second and third, a champion and a reserve.  Not bad for having zero expectations

I was so proud of him and cannot wait to do it again in a few weeks.  Thank you Alfie!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

50-to-1 Giveaway Winner

Mary E. Brewer is in the winner's circle today and will receive a DVD of the movie, 50-to-1, which premieres on April 28th.  Thank you Mary and all of the others for entering the contest and thank you 50-to-1 for sponsoring this giveaway.  You will love it! Watch for Mine That Bird's cameo!

 And you'll love Calvin too!

Friday, April 24, 2015

J Crew Picks

I was pleasantly surprised at the recent J Crew rollout and actually found a few items that I liked, after a long drought of grunge-looking clothes that I wouldn't wear even to do barn chores.  Maybe the brand is realizing that it needs to return to its roots of good quality, preppy-like clothes with a twist, without a hefty price tag.  Time will tell.  Here are some of the pieces I thought were spot on, for a change:

I loved this classic look that is so Chanel-like.  Not sure if I could pull off the wide leg pants (you need to be tall and reed thin) but I love the look nevertheless.  The t-shirt comes also in navy and ecru which I prefer.  Love the bag too. The white necklace is adorable.

This Italian linen dress is the clean-cut minimalist style that I prefer. This comes in several colors but this is the one I like best.  This dress can go to work, cocktails, parties, weddings, graduations.

This is another look that caught my eye.  Love, love, love this top. So classic, clean-cut, great quality. You can wear this with everything!  It comes in white too.  And the shorts look great too.  Pull-on no less, but linen, with zipper pockets. I'd wear this with my navy Birkenstocks from last spring.

I like this dress too.  You may need to be tall to wear this as well but I love the look.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bunny Williams for Ballard Designs, Again

 The collaborations continue and Ballard is launching a new collection just in time for summer, from decorator Bunny Williams.  See the collection here.  Here are my favorites:

This is great for a patio or deck, by a pool, in the barn????

 Bunny loves blue....

And this pot might look great in my living room.  She also offers great looking faux greenery for those of use who can't and don't do arrangements well and kill everything.....

Thanks Bunny and Ballard!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Inn at Little Washington's Newest Book

 An hour or two outside of the Beltway lies a charming spot, America's first five-star inn, an idyllic spot in Virginia's horse country. Be warned, it is costly but cozy. Decadent and extravagant. Save it for a super special celebration.  The Chef, Patrick O'Connell, has a new book out today.  Cannot wait to see it!

The restaurant has won many accolades, including five James Beard awards. Derry Moore was a contributing photographer for Nest. He photographs for Architectural Digest and other magazines, and is the author of In House, Rooms, and The Englishman’s Room. Gordon Beall specializes in architecture and interior design. His photographs appear frequently in publications such as Architectural Digest.

 For more on the Inn go here.

"50-to-1" The Movie Giveaway

With less than two weeks until the Derby, there's much anticipation with one of the best crop of three-year-olds in years.  There are several that could win and who knows, maybe another long shot will make history like Mine That Bird did in 2009. You may recall a March 2014 blogpost about the movie.  Read it here.

I was lucky enough to get to preview the movie which debuts on DVD on April 28th just in time for the Derby.  Skeet Ulrich of "Law & Order LA" fame plays trainer Chip Woolley.  Christian Kane stars as Mark Allen the horse's owner.

If you love a "feelgood" story then you'll want to watch this one.  It gets off to slow start but stay with it as we all know how it ends so well. Jockey Calvin Borel is the star of the movie, other than the horse, of course, and he plays himself splendidly. And we get to see the footage of how he won the race by taking the small gelding on the inside rail from an aerial view, only a master jockey like Borel could have pulled that off. And I just LOVE Bob Baffert in the movie.  He looks great, has shed 25 pounds and he makes me think that if he ever quit training he could make a run as a fashion designer or beautician. I am not certain who plays him in the movie but bravo.  See Bob below with silver hair.

Mine That Bird also makes a cameo in the movie. He is retired and living happily in New Mexico.

For those who would like to own a copy of the DVD, you can enter the giveaway and one lucky winner will have a DVD in their mailbox by Derby Day.  We all know that Mine That Bird was the real thing. He won the Derby in amazing fashion and he went on to place second in the Preakness and third in Belmont. He won over $2M, not shabby earnings for a horse that cost less than half a million.  So who beat him in the other Triple Crown races?

Email me your answers and a random drawing will take place this Friday, April 24th no earlier than 5 pm EDT. Good luck.  Winner will be announced no later than Monday, April 27th. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

My Lilly for Target Experience

I hate to admit it but I really wanted to purchase some of the items from the Target Lilly Pulitzer Collection on Sunday. Like many, I set my alarm so I could wake up in the middle of the night and shop online.  Since it was unclear what time the site would launch, I just picked a random time, 3:30 am.

When I got on the computer, I was able to see the collection and actually was able to put a few things in my shopping cart. There were only four items I really wanted and quickly discovered that two of them were not available online.  Then the site crashed.  I worked from two browsers but to no avail.  So I went back to bed.  At 6:00 I woke up and tried again, but the site was still down.  Now what?  I wanted these dishes, badly.
The nearest store is about 35 minutes away so I got in my car and drove there, arriving about 10 minutes before launch at 8 am.  There was a long line but not unruly and I thought I had a chance.  And let me add that I hate shopping in crowds, no Black Friday shopping for me, ever.  I realized that I needed to go directly to the dishes or I would not get them. Luckily I know the store well and figured where they would be. And most of the women went directly to the clothes, at least I thought they would.  I had planned to buy three sets of four so I would have twelve plates.  I also wanted the bowls:
When the doors opened most people scrambled for the shopping carts but I brazenly flew directly to the dishes and was the first person there.  I was able to grab the only two boxes they had (a store clerk later told us that this store only received two pallets of Lilly).  I grabbed one set of the bowls. The napkins were the third item I wanted and I took two sets (for eight) although I had wanted twelve.

I could have nabbed these pillows too but I had no where to put them and felt that I had gotten what I came for so why spoil someone else's fun?
 I love the napkins and will use them with my hot pink linen placemats and white china.

I would have liked this but frankly I never saw it:
The other item I wanted was this handbag but I knew I would not be able to grab this and the dishes, so the dishes won:
 One very nice lady handed me this cosmetics bag, she grabbed a lot and later reassessed. I really like it and it will replace an old worn bag from Baker (like in the horse blankets).
The quality of the items is quite good and I will set a table in the coming weeks with the plates, the napkins and will fondly remember my Sunday morning romp at Target with the rest of the world!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Equestrian Topiaries

I am loving these adorable (and quite reasonable) equestrian topiaries from (which went public this week by the way).  Before the next "horsey girls' night out" at my place, I will order one for the table.  Love, love, love these.  See them here.  Anyone having a World Cup party this week?  Way to go Rich Sellers and Flexible, by the way, in second place.  Not bad for a 19-year old stallion.

 Kentucky Derby party?

Atlanta Plane Crash of 1962

I am reading a really good novel that starts out with a real life plane crash in Orly, France in June 1962.  The crash was famous in its day as it was the most horrific plane disaster up to that time.  One person survived.  The plane, an Air France flight, was headed to Atlanta, the culmination of a month-long arts expedition for the art patrons of Atlanta. Even one entire family was wiped out.  Read about it here.

Some now refer to it as Atlanta's 9/11 and there is a good PBS documentary about the flight. A few members of the trip decided to stay in France or took separate planes home for various reasons and they are chronicled in the documentary.  Some very well known civic leaders perished.  See the documentary here.  The documentary is called The Day Atlanta Stood Still. Another very good article is here

Atlanta somehow rose from the ashes a second time (the first time being when Sherman burned it during the Civil War) and made the city into a arts capital for the South, which was what this group had intended to do. Few people today realize that lovely Rodin statue that sits in Atlanta was a gift from France in memory of the citizens who died that day on French soil.

It's funny how time enables us to forget big moments or tragedy. Over thirty children were orphaned that day in June.  How many lives were changed forever?  Many. 

The book is called The Swan House and if you love a good girly type novel set in the Deep South in 1962 you will enjoy it.

History is our only link to the past. We need to remember it and embrace it and learn from it.  Enjoy this beautiful Saturday!

Friday, April 17, 2015


Need a gift idea for the equestrian in your life who also loves to entertain?  Love these. See them here.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Essentials - Seven That I Can't Live Without

Are there things in your life that you'd be lost without?  Your day wouldn't be complete without them?  I'm not referring to Truman or to Sega but instead to the little items that you need everyday?

Here's mine......

1) Christian Dior Mascara
I don't wear much make-up but I always put on mascara before I go out.  The only brand I use (after many years of trial and error) is Dior.  
2) Arc Teryx Vest
My coat fetish is well-documented but I have grown to love this vest that I bought at the end of the season one year for less than $100.  I wear this almost every day at home on the farm as a layer or a light cover.

3) Uggs Slippers
I have foot problems so having a comfortable shoe to wear around the house is key.  These are worn until it gets warm and then the sandals come out.

4) iPod
As a very long-time runner, I have always had music, recalling the days of the Sony Walkman for those of you old enough to know what that is.  I have had three iPods, now on number three and they keep getting smaller, lighter and more colorful.  My current one is an aqua blue.
5) My Saddle
In 2013 my then trainer convinced me to trade in one of my Butet saddles for a new one. I reluctantly agreed and now I have a Bruno DelGrange saddle that I adore.  I still have an old Butet for the rainy days but I must admit the trainer was spot on.  

6) Anything for the Bath
I soak in my tub many nights after a long day outside or running, riding or just to warm up. I love to add something now and then to soak the muscles, put an aroma in the air or just to enjoy. This is one of my favorites.

7) Dubarry Boots
I bought my first pair five years ago. A very wise investment indeed.  Love them!

What's on your list?
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