Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Other Washington

Washington, D.C.?  Not even close, well maybe - it's about 70 miles away.  Try Washington, Virginia.  This jewel of a town is just that, a rare gem of a place and let's hope it stays as unknown as it's more famous town is known.

The town of Little Washington as it's more commonly known, is a National Historic Landmark and Little Washington is little, more like an English village than a town, with a population of less than 150 people, not including two horses, one llama, a flock of sheep and a dozen or so chickens who live in an ornate chicken house with stained glass windows in the Historic District. To get a sense of the whimsical, you can sit on a bench in the center of the town and watch farmers driving John Deere tractors loaded with hay bales go by an antique Rolls Royce or stretch limos parked near the The Inn at Little Washington.

The town is known now not for its historic past but as the home of the renowned Inn at Little Washington, a swanky inn and restaurant that clearly caters to the upper crust. It's an expensive place to spend a weekend but well worth it according to those who have made the trip.

The town is dotted with a few small shops, another Inn or two (almost as pricey as it's more famous neighbor) and there is not much to do.  You can couple the trip with a visit to near-by Warrenton or Middleburg. It is simply pristine and untouched with a flavor unlike any small town in Virginia I've seen yet.

Let's hope it stays that way!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Needlepoint Christmas

Hoping that Santa is good to you this year.  Have a wonderful Christmas Eve.  May your holiday be filled with tidings of joy and needlepoint!

 (Kate Dickerson design)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Arrogate and Chromie to Meet in January

It's official!  There WILL be a rematch between California Chrome and Arrogate in the newly established Pegasus Cup in January.  Cannot wait to watch Chrome's last race (he will supposedly retire to stud in Kentucky after this race). Juddmonte (Arrogate's owner) has purchased Coolmore's seat and will run if the stars stay aligned until January. Mark your calendars for the Super Bowl of horse racing - this will likely become a match race, a replay of the Breeder's Cup Classic in November. What a treat to see these two champions battle it out one more time.  My money is on Arrogate.  Read more about the race here

You've Got Mail

The lost art of snail mail isn't quite dead yet at my house.  There's nothing nicer than sending someone a hand-written note, that took more than five minutes to compose. Email notes are for millenials. How many hand-written cards, letters, notes do you receive these days after a nice dinner party or after sending someone a thoughtful gift?  One? None?  Make it a new year's resolution to write and mail someone a hand-written thoughtful note.  I bet they'll remember it long after they've hit the delete button on their Mac.





Thursday, December 22, 2016


Curling up in a comfortable chair with a good book is a lost art.  Reading, escaping, imaging a life that's not your own, learning about a different time, a place, it's becoming a thing of the past for many people.  If you don't read then you are missing a whole new world every time you read a book.

Realizing that tastes are different, I'm compiling some books that you might add to your list in 2017.  If you need some assistance in picking out a good one, refer to this list: The New York Times' Top 100 Books or Amazon's Top 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime list.  Happy reading!

 1) A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius/Dave Eggers
This is on my short list to read. Here is what the review says:

But on to the true story. At the age of 22, Eggers became both an orphan and a "single mother" when his parents died within five months of one another of unrelated cancers. In the ensuing sibling division of labor, Dave is appointed unofficial guardian of his 8-year-old brother, Christopher. The two live together in semi-squalor, decaying food and sports equipment scattered about, while Eggers worries obsessively about child-welfare authorities, molesting babysitters, and his own health. His child-rearing strategy swings between making his brother's upbringing manically fun and performing bizarre developmental experiments on him. (Case in point: his idea of suitable bedtime reading is John Hersey's Hiroshima.)

2) Love in the Time of Cholera/Gabriel Garcia Marquez
If you haven't treated yourself to Marquez's magical writing then treat yourself please!  This masterpiece can be read over and over again, it's that good.  100 Years of Solitude is equally good (one of his other books). This writer is a genius.

3) The Corrections/Jonathan Franzen
This is a long book that won't appeal to everyone but Franzen is a brilliant writer and I enjoyed it immensely.  I have not read his newer books but I understand why this one made Amazon's list.  His chronicle of the most dysfunctional family on the planet riviled my own.  

4) The Goldfinch/Donna Tartt
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Tartt's masterpiece, is just that.  Over 700 pages in length I wanted this book to go on and on.  Sadly it ended.  I loved Tartt's The Secret History but this book, set in modern day New York takes you to Las Vegas and Amsterdam.  Do yourself a favor and read this one.  Don't wait for the movie to this great novel an even greater injustice.

5) Farenheit 451/Ray Bradbury
The temperature in which paper burns, Farenheit 451 was banned in the Soviet Union for years. From Amazon's review:

In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury's classic, frightening vision of the future, firemen don't put out fires--they start them in order to burn books. Bradbury's vividly painted society holds up the appearance of happiness as the highest goal--a place where trivial information is good, and knowledge and ideas are bad. Fire Captain Beatty explains it this way, "Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs.... Don't give them slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy." 

Bradbury wrote this book in a matter of hours and it's chilling backdrop reminds us all of what the world can be when individual liberty is erased - sadly reminiscent of our own recent campus "thought police.".  If you haven't read this one, you should.

Please pick out a great book, not a good one, and read over the holidays! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

New Years Eve Cocktails

Once upon a time people hosted cocktail parties. I recall making the annual visit to an incredible house in my hometown on Christmas Eve, in which waiters in white coats served food on sterling silver platters.  Oh how I long for that kind of sophistication again! It's missing in today's instant gratification world, where IKEA furniture is the norm and no one even cooks anymore.  Enough ranting!

I'd like to host a small, formal gathering for New Year's Eve one day when my schedule allows.  Maybe I'll skip the waiters in white coats (you can't find this where I live anyway) but I'd host a "dress up" formal cocktail party.  Maybe a mid-winter soiree?

What would you wear?  Here are a few ideas.

I love the sequin look that J Crew is able to pull off year after year.  This shell can be worn alone or with a crisp white cotton blouse underneath.  See it here.  
Add a pair of white wool pants, even hot pink would work. 

These black velvet pants will work well with the sweater above. See them here.


This black skirt is so adorable and can be worn many ways.  See it here. Pair it with a simple silk blouse and black high heels. 

This black sequin skirt is very festive.  See it here.

Here's the dress version of the skirt above.  This is cute.  See it here.

If you prefer a simple look, pair this shirt with the black velvet pants above.  See it here.

These shoes are cute and add a little something different.  See them here.

I also like these velvet shoes.  Just enough heel.  See them here.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Handpainted Brushes

I wish I had discovered this vendor a few months ago.  These would make the perfect trainer gift or a gift for that "hard to buy for" person who has everything. Who wouldn't love a set of customized, hand-painted brushes?  But I don't think I could use them.  They are just too pretty.  You can see the vendor here on Etsy.

You can see more here and learn about how to order. 

The Grey Horse Candle Company

I love to support small businesses and The Gray Horse Candle Company is one you should know about.   Founded early this year, the company sells on and offers a wide selection of scented candles around an equestrian theme.  This is my favorite:

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Horse Movies for the Holidays

We're iced in here in Virginia today and what fun would it be to have a horsey movie marathon!  There are some good one out there and some coming in January.  A good movie makes a great gift too.  Here are some suggestions.

1) Dark Horse
I have not seen this movie which came out in DVD in August, but plan to view it in the new year. It's a true race horse movie set in Wales.

I did not get to see this in the theatres so I have preordered my copy so I can see it in January. It received rave reviews.  

This is probably my favorite horse movie and I love the part where a very young and handsome Kurt Russell drives up in his MG pulling the horse trailer which just happens to have a full pull-out bar.  Can I have one of those?
I sadly remember this horse race.  I haven't seen the movie but bring your box of tissues, you'll need it.

I have not seen this documentary from ESPN films but plan to.  Another rags-to-riches story.

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