Sassy Living Below the Mason-Dixon Line

Category Archive

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

Get set …T-day is almost here!

Hello dear readers — a few ideas on getting ready for Thanksgiving.  Can you believe it’s next week?  Your mind is probably twirling with how long to cook the turkey and a list of sides (farm these out to the guests) that need to be prepped and served.  I, of course, am always obsessed with what to serve them on — I know, I know but presentation is important.  And, presentation my friends doesn’t necessarily mean expensive.

I love ETSY and boy do they have some great items for the feast.  My friend Jan has a fabulous site and she is offering this  lovely tureen.  The color is so chic and modern and could be used year round.



Georgia decorator James Farmer (Southern Living Magazine’s editor-at-large) has some great ideas for using what you have and mixing in natural and traditional to create a fresh looking presentation:











Or if you are into a grand style, you could channel Aerin Lauder who is an absolute goddess of tablescapes and atmosphere:








No matter what you have, make the presentation yours and do so with all the gusto you can muster!




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…









Katherine Anne Porter.  Theodore Roethke.  John O’Hara.  These literary giants in one place?  FLAIR.  Fleur Cowles masterminded the short-lived magazine dedicated to fashion, decor and art, with special contributions from emerging literati.  She did go through a number of husbands until she settled on Gardner Cowles, publisher of LOOK Magazine, who indulged her super-sized ambitions of  a magazine that combined the fancy bouillabaisse of VOGUE, TOWN & COUNTRY, HOLIDAY, etc.  Although it folded after only a year (after losing millions), FLAIR’s creativity and quality is still admired today.

Like most artists, I am obsessed with this magazine, and I was elated to find a copy for twenty-five cents at a local thrift shop.  (I am in no athletic condition to do backflips, but seriously considered trying.)  The May 1950 issue is themed with roses.  FLAIR was touted as including cutouts and pop-ups made of expensive paper stock and pieces from soon-to-be discovered writers.  No disappointment here!  Take a look…

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!

Barton Heights

Nancy Lancaster, Virginian and English society decorator, once said, “We vulgarize everything we touch.”  She was referring to a historic old home with a modern in-ground swimming pool.  Born in 1897, she was very romantic about southern architecture and style.  It was this aesthetic that made her a popular designing force among the English country home set.  She may have known Barton Heights in its hey day, and the romantic southern girl would be drawn to it even still.

The Town of Barton Heights is the location of my novel’s back story.  (Coincidentally, it was where my grandparents and great-grandparents lived.)  Touted as the first trolley suburb of Richmond, the houses were constructed in the late 1800s and for many years this was a fashionable and tight-knit community.  John Barton’s vision of homes with fanciful details was fully realized, and although he left town to escape hungry creditors, his house still stands.  Sturdy.  Defiant.  Regal.

Here’s a sample of the neighborhood now…

Sleeping in Style!

My bedroom is my zen retreat, and I am always inventing ways to make it more comfortable.  This got me thinking about sleeping in stylish interiors.  And, since I have to get up at 5 a.m. every morning, I am especially interested in waking UP in a stylish interior.  Here are some interesting choices…keep cool in this searing heat!

Ooooolala! Spring is almost here..

‘Pear Green’ by Benjamin Moore: Green bedroom + red accents, originally uploaded by xJavierx.

Happy day,

Spring is coming to the south after threatening to skip us! I love this bedroom which was featured in the old DOMINO Magazine. It wouldn’t be too hard to duplicate. (Especially if you have a good friend like Elizabeth McGill to help you paint). Note the cute sidetables by Bungalow5 and the Pear Green wall color from the Benjamin Moore collection. The lamps have a retro look, but they could easily do double duty in a modern room as well.  And, look at the small tea cup and clock.   Makes you want to grab a good book like the Best American Short Stories 2009 (which really are the best I’ve read in a while) and settle in. The orangy-red-pinky coverlet with the green walls underscore the vigor and vitality and confidence of a new season’s beginnings.

‘Til next . . .

Set a Vintage Table this Thanksgiving!

A Well-Appointed Table is the Backdrop for the Entire Meal!

Can it really be time for Thanksgiving?  Seems so.  This has always been my favorite holiday.  It has all the right ingredients—food, family and togetherness.  And, the anticipation of Christmas!  My mother was an amazing cook, and part of the delight of her dinner parties was in the table scape she put together.  She would set the dining room table at least a week in advance (china, crystal, linens, silver, candle sticks and individual place cards) and with the same care as a State Dinner at The White House.

The book,  The Vintage Table:  Personal Treasures and Standout Settings, has many of the principles she employed and practical advice for mixing the old and new.  The text is lively, and the book is divided into three easy sections.  I especially love the advice on choosing the individual pieces for your setting as this represents an important step in your personal history.  The pictures are expressive and instructive,  and they will give your mind a visual jump-start for planning your holiday entertaining.  Thanks to Clarkson Potter Publishers for this great guide to using what we have.  Who knew that recycling our memories and treasures and history could be beautiful and GREEN?

This year I will spend Thanksgiving with the Tombes and Snyder families in Providence Forge, Virginia.  I am confident all the essential ingredients of a good Thanksgiving will be in order!  I am grateful.  Enjoy…

‘Til next…

Southern Linens that Reflect Place; Palm Beach Poetry Festival

When I was in graduate school at Sarah Lawrence, I wrote about how “place” can  mean a state of mind or memory or the past or the present and so on.  In other words, not just the physical place.  This is especially true in the south.  Our “things”  have special meaning.  What some folks might see as just a table cloth, southerners see as a springboard to a memory or recollection or story.  I pulled out three of my mother’s  cloths today,  and I wanted to share them with you.

The pumpkin cloth!  My absolute favorite, and maybe a little hard to see because it is so faded.  Mother would bring it out late September and cover our kitchen table.  She would place a big clear bowl of candy corn in the middle.  Even though that cloth is from the 1930s and was her mother’s, it looks modern today.  The line drawings of pumpkins have a whimsical look that evoke Lu Lu Dk!

linen blog post008

My dad loved the farm house cloth.  I figure it was because he was a country boy born in Mineral, VA.  The charming abstract animals, trees and scarecrow family look hand-screened.  The muted colors give the cloth a bit of a French flavor.

linen blog post012

linen blog part 2001

The roman style table cloth was a find during a shopping trip to Alexandria, VA when I lived in Washington.  The great cinnamon color has become a favorite of mine in my own decorating.

linen blog post011

My Richmond friend, Elizabeth McGill, who is creative in every way, gave me this pot of annuals for my spring birthday.  The plants are bright and still going  strong so I added two sunflowers to give the arrangement a fall feel.  And, you know what?  I bought the  new plants at the Dollar Store!  That’s a lot of punch for $2.00.linen blog part 2002Those table cloths remind me of the many meals  around our large pine kitchen table.  The other image they evoke is the spoken word.  My mother loved poetry, (her grandmother was a poet) so she was always quoting her verses.  We are so lucky to have the opportunity to attend readings, and one of the best southern locations is the Annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival (  Originally organized by Sarah Lawrence graduate Miles Coon, the festival is in its sixth year.  The 2010 programt will feature workshops with some of the most celebrated poets living today.  They include:  Tom Lux, Stephen Dobyns, Carolyn Forche and Mary Cornish.  It’s in January, and applications are due soon for the workshops, so check the website for  details.  Also, for those in the Palm Beach area, there are many readings open to the public.

Be sure to subscribe to Sassy Living so it can delivered (FREE) to your email.  Also, once you subscribe, you will need to check your email for the feedburner announcement asking to you click and verify.

Have a great week and thanks for reading…