Sassy Living Below the Mason-Dixon Line

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the History category.

Elizabeth Linley Sheridan

I have embarked on an exciting new creative project!  It involves my great-great grandmother Sarah Sheridan Ward.  She was a prose writer and poet in the 1800s, and researching her has been so much fun.  I am amazed at how many writers are on my family tree, beginning with Sarah’s cousin, Richard Brinsley Sheridan.  He was famous for founding London’s Drury Lane Theatre and writing the English comedy, The School for Scandal.  His wife, Elizabeth Linley was even more extraordinary.




She was born in 1754, one of seven children of the harpsichordist and composer Thomas Linley.   At the age of twelve, Lady Linley was already singing at Covent Garden, and her success was so great that her father could buy a substantial house in Bath, England with her earnings.  Thomas Gainsborough was so besotted with her that he painted her at least four times, and The Honourable Sheridan eloped with Lady Linley to Calais, France.

That’s why I love the holidays (and being a writer) — being thankful for family you didn’t know you had, and feeling kinship with them as an artist.  Here are several of Gainsborough’s paintings of Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan.  The above portrait hangs in Washington’s National Gallery of Art, directly opposite Napoleon and just round the corner from George Washington!







Ginter Park Home & Garden Tour

Spring is about touring chic and inspiring homes in Virginia!  Recently, I was a docent at The Ginter Park Home & Garden Tour where the areas’ finest properties were on full display.  Recruited by my darling friends Owen and Rick, I enjoyed a day of beautiful interiors, flowers and friendship.

Ginter Park was the vision of late nineteenth-century industrialist and philanthropist, Major Lewis Ginter.  Ginter was a co-founder of the American Tobacco Company, and he made his fortune marketing pre-rolled cigarettes.  Towards the end of his life, Ginter began development on a community with one-of-a-kind craftsmanship homes and proximity to downtown Richmond.  Ginter Park continues to be a highly desirable location and warm community.




New York Adventure – Circa 1935

My mother loved the written word, which explains why she kept a charming diary that details the 1935 trip of five single ladies.  The daily musings, carefully typed, present a spirited trip to New York City before departing for Hamilton, Bermuda.

According to the diary, the travelers didn’t skimp on their NYC adventures (or extravagances).  They shopped at Russeks, founded in the early 1900’s as a fur store which evolved into a department store on fashionable Fifth Avenue.  Dining choices included L’Aiglon Restaurant, a tony French restaurant on East 54th Street, The Flying Trapeze (specializing in lobster and chicken), and the original chain restaurant, Child’s.  All of the locales are now gone, but I had such fun tracking down their history.

Here’s a photo journey since we weren’t on the original one …








Flying Trapeze Restaurant - 217-219 West 57th Street New York

L'Aiglon Restaurant, 13 East 55th Street New York City, NY


Post-Holiday Spree at Lucketts Vintage Store!

Have you ever been to Lucketts, Virginia?  It is between Winchester and Leesburg, and VERY charming.  I visited the vintage store over the holidays and I was completely enchanted.  According to the management, they have regular “pickers” who visit antique shows for inventory.  I found the items displayed in a careful and pleasing manner with an emphasis on design.

If you are looking for a fun winter getaway, this is the perfect day trip.  In the meantime, here’s a peak…








Urbanna Christmas House Tour!

What could be better than enjoying an annual  Christmas House Tour in a charming riverfront Virginia town?  Spending time with a great family friend!  Mary Jo Atterholt played hostess in her lovely Urbanna home, which was cozy and inspired by her Dad’s love of the sea.  Our grandmothers and mothers were best friends, so we always have lots to chat about.  We toured the area’s homes, and we were both dazzled by the great style and great ideas.

The entire town was in Urbanna style – twinkling lights, carols, decorated store-fronts, the shops dressed in their festive best and local restaurants primed and ready for the occasion.  Decorations had lots of nautical themes that made this tour both inspiring and unique.  Here’s a glimpse…










Election FEVER!

It’s here.  My favorite time every four years:  the Presidential Election.  I know what you are thinking, and yes all those campaign commercials are annoying, but I really dig the suspense that hangs in the air.  Maybe it is the writer in me?  Maybe.  The narrative of our country is being written once again.  And, next month I get to cast my vote.  Are you registered in your state?  If not, time’s a wasting.

My friend, Marsha, found a cool Look Magazine which illustrates the 1960 campaign in pictures.  The Kennedy’s were so glam.  Really.  I love these old, iconic black and white photographs.

With the election a month away, I am already stocking up on red, white and blue plates, napkins, cups etc.  We may not all be as chic as Jackie Kennedy, but a visit to the Dollar Tree insures that we can all enjoy election season in style.  I bet she would enjoy the irony! Tune in October 3rd for the first Presidential Debate on Domestic Policy from the University of Denver.

Sassy Living ABOVE The Mason Dixon-Line

Hello from the Empire State!  Do you remember when I blogged about the Crosby Street Hotel several months ago?  I saw pictures in a magazine and thought it was worth a post.  On Saturday, I went to Soho and saw it from myself.  Wow.  How often does something exceed your expectations?  The Hotel is fabulous in every way.  Argentine fabrics.  Italian sculptures.  Australian beer (on ice in an old copper pot).  You want to stay and linger and eat.  I bet it is fabulous at Christmas.  Better start saving my pennies now for a visit!

Albert Hadley: A Brave and Creative Eye

That is how The New York Times described Albert Hadley who died on Friday.  I loved how he mixed modern and traditional furnishings, art and fabrics.  While his tastes were usually bent towards the spare, his thirty-year association with society decorator Sister Parish saw a softening of the lines he once favored.  Mr. Hadley’s interiors were endowed with savoir faire, elegance and livability.

A southerner, Mr. Hadley attributed his aesthetic to his Tennessee roots.   A graduate of the Parsons School of Design in New York, he is most famous for Brooke Astor’s red library and the Kennedy White House private quarters (which was a collaboration with Sister).  Below is a small sampling of his work.  There’s lots of information regarding his achievements on Twitter and the myriad of design blogs — google him and you will be amazed.

Stylishly Old. Fashionably New.

Ok, so it is too tempting to say “everything old is new again.”  I hate clichés, but sometimes they do apply.   Florence Broadhurst’s oversized iconic prints are only overshadowed by her oversized life.  A design innovator and native Australian, she pioneered styles and printing techniques that remain relevant today. Her iconic Japanese floral patterns were the perfect complement to the 1960s pop art culture and youthful exuberance. More than 30 years after her death, Broadhurst’s work is experiencing a revival, thanks to Kate Spade New York.

Why do I find Ms. Broadhurst so fascinating?  She owned a fashion design company in London during the 1930s, and later in life she moved to Sydney, Australia, and became a painter, socialite and charity fund-raiser.   She didn’t begin designing wallpaper until she was 60 years old.  This creative endeavor was her most prolific and successful occupation.  I’ll just bet one creative outlet inspired another until she discovered her creative voice.  Take a look …

Kate Spade’s Salute to Florence Broadhurst (below)

Kate Spade has recently released Ms. Broadhurst’s biography, Florence Broadhurst:  Her Secret and Extraordinary Lives.

The Art of the Southern Storyteller

Do you remember when Ladies Home Journal, Redbook, Glamour, et al, featured short stories?  Mother would skip all the articles on child raising and casserole making to read to me.  I didn’t always understand the layered characters or narrative but it definitely fueled my love of the written word.   Wouldn’t it be a better world if good writing and good stories were still considered in vogue instead of news about the Kardashian family?

There’s a wonderful online journal, The Cortland Review, where writing, and stories are still high art.

TCR has been around since 1997, and it features mostly poetry, with some personal essay and fiction each issue.  Why am I bringing this up?  Well, my short piece, “Because” is being  featured and it’s online, NOW.

I hope you will check it out, and let me know what you think.  TCR is really dedicated to artists, which, for those of us who are writing, is a beautiful thing!