Saturday, February 28, 2009

Spring Fling

A few weeks ago there was sun, lots of sun, and warmth. Skies were cloudless, a pale and clear Carolina blue. Daffodils were up, my lawn was a patchwork of dark green tufts, and most of the neighbors had replaced their holiday magnolia swags with pots of fresh pansies. Temperatures were pushing 70. Was I wrong to think Spring had arrived?

I'd first seen the Townie in Vogue, then on Nantucket, and finally -- in early February -- through the window of my neighborhood cycle shop, a brilliant mass of peony, tangerine and limeade.   The Townie is a model of simplicity, and I'm so about simple.   The flat-foot technology makes riding in flip-flops a breeze.  

One of the originals, a pearly lime 3-speed with the coaster brakes of my childhood and a comfy seat, was too much to resist. Really, who can turn away from a bike that offers a surf rack accessory?  I succumbed. And not just to the cruiser, but to a big wicker basket and bright, shiny bell.

I was able to ride my new Townie around town for exactly 1 day before Winter returned.  Tomorrow we're expecting 3-5 inches of snow...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Must-See TV

Sure, President Obama signed a stimulus package today, but tonight the Housewives are back. Wonder how K.K.B. will fare against Bethenny, LuAnn, Alex, Ramona and Jill?

Bensimon is a patron of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute and graduate of Columbia,

author of American Style...

and In the Spirit of the Hamptons

and recently divorced from Elle Macpherson's ex.  

Am I the only one to sense that five of these things are not like the other?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Alternative Lifestyle

Really.  Of course I am.  Who wouldn't be?

Childhood friend Jeff Noordsy & his delightful significant other Holly are living the dream. My dream. Since graduating from Middlebury College in the early '90's, they've been skiing the world, dealing antiques, and restoring the Vermont parsonage they call home.  

I ran into them during American Antiques Week, just before a woman who'd lived in their parsonage 50 years earlier (her father had been a minister in their small Vermont town) entered their booth.  

Small world...

Anyway, their stuff was terrific, and I wanted to know how they did it. So just after exhibiting at The American Antiques Show last month, Jeff & Holly answered some of my burning questions. 

HGL:  Tell me about your antiquing roots -- how did you get your start?
J&H:  I always admired antiques at the home of my Mom’s aunt and Mother.  I started attending flea markets and auctions in college and things quickly escalated from there.

HGL:  So how long have you been actually dealing in antiques?
J&H:  We started dealing just after college in 1992, focusing primarily on bottles and stoneware, though didn't become full-time dealers until the late 90s.

HGL: What's the current focus of your business?
J&H:  Quality, quality, quality  Not necessarily the most expensive objects but anything that’s “the best” of its given type.  We still do much of our business in glass but are having increasing success with art and paint decorated high country furniture and accessories.

HGL:  Do you have a favorite period?
J&H:  Late 18th / early 19th century

HGL:  What's been your most interesting find to date?
J&H:  Too many to count!  It’s not just the “big hits" (monetarily) that resonate but also the fun little things acquired in out of the way places.  Our most exciting discovery was probably an important glass collection that had been “lost” for thirty-five years.  We traveled to Chevy Chase, MD and entered a home where I immediately recognized a number of iconic objects.  The buyer was a “closet collector” nobody knew of – it caused quite a stir when we unveiled these objects at the next show…

HGL: Do you have a piece you love too much to offer for sale?
J&H: Lots of them but we have learned that if we are to “make it” we need to keep our options open.  With that said, we do have a few treasures that I can’t ever imagine selling.

HGL:  How many days a year do you travel for business?
J&H:  Too many!  At least 120 nights in hotels and many more on the road.

HGL: What's your favorite town to travel for a show?
J&H: We always enjoy Baltimore because we have a number of friends there and are learning to take advantage of the opportunities offered in NYC.  Have had a few great trips to the South with Memphis being the best stop.

HGL: What's your favorite road food?
J&H: D’Angelos when we are on the run and whatever we can find online when we are staying put for a few days.  Road life is difficult so we do not scrimp on our food choices.  Yes, pizza in the room is at times great but we love to see what culinary delights we can uncover.

HGL: What do you do when you're not working?
J&H: Cuddling, long walks on the beach – oh wait, that’s for another profile!  Skiing is an important aspect of our lives, as is hiking.  We also enjoy working on our home and in our gardens.  When we return from the road we are truly homebodies.

HGL: What's on your iPod?
J&H: What’s an ipod?  Believe it or not, we don’t have one (don’t tell my Dad) although music is very important to us.  We listen to selections from Wolfgang’s Vault and at home and XM radio on the road.  We like an eclectic mix of music – jam bands, 60s Jazz, some modern R&B…

HGL:  If not an antiques dealer, what would be your occupation?
J&H: Firewatcher!  Hard to say – I now deem myself “unemployable” in that I have been my own boss for too long for me to conform to a structured set of rules.

Thanks Jeff & Holly.  And not to rub it in, but here are just a few of the fabulous items you've recently missed from Noordsy Antiques...

Weathered white paint. American, early 20th century

Foliate handle terminal and tooled base edge. English, C. 1800
Connecticut River Valley landscape painted in the manner of Benjamin Champney
Blown in Western New York State C. 1840

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What Women Want

According to Wikipedia, the Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. The association estimates that, in the US, men spend on average twice as much money as women.

Consider this my effort to ensure those dollars are well-spent.

Smythson fuchsia calf notes book (for extra points, add a love letter to your sweetie on the first page), $180

No man or woman will ever want to take off this lucky charm once it is tied, states Hermes regarding its new Cartouche bracelet in silver & evercalf leather, $405

Chocolate never fails, especially the Love Tower from Vosges Haut Chocolate, $58

For an old-school romantic, the sterling Tiffany Notes locket, $450 (+ charming picture of you)

100 pink Sarah Bernhardt peonies from, $440

You get the idea...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The American Antiques Show

During my January trip to Manhattan for American Antiques Week, I also attended Antiques at the Armory and The American Antiques Show. Although the Winter Antiques Show highlighted the big names, and the Armory Show offered affordable pieces for young collectors, TAAS was by far the best show of the week. Admittedly I am biased. Childhood friend Jeff Noordsy and his fabulous wife Holly of Noordsy Antiques, positioned just across the aisle from Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques, were clearly one of the best new exhibitors at the Show. 

While the Noordsys are best known for their extensive collection of antique bottles & glass, it was their offering of period decorative arts that garnered significant attention. During the gala benefit preview, the buzz indicated that the entourage accompanying a certain omnimedia executive known for her exquisite taste and collection was paying close attention to this remarkable flag-holder, most likely created in celebration of our nation's centennial...

and another astute collector snapped up this perfectly lovely portrait of a young girl very early in the show...

All in all, TAAS is a show not to be missed.  Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with the Noordsys, and for more coverage of TAAS, check out Antiques and the Arts Online.