the scrapbook: chinoiserie


chi·noi·se·rie | noun | the imitation or evocation of Chinese motifs and techniques in Western art, furniture, and architecture, especially in the 18th century.

In a new book about timeless Southern style (more on that soon!) there is chinoiserie everywhere, and I have to admit that I have often confused it with toile. Toile is a pattern that is French and often depicts the French countryside, while chinoiserie means “Chinese-esque” and includes all different kinds of Chinese images which can be found on fabric, wallpaper, furniture, folding screens and so on. I have been calling my foyer wallpaper toile when it is actually chinoiserie—so thank goodness I’ve gotten that straightened out for us (and now to actually pronounce it correctly…).

If you are a little bit afraid of something like this, the pattern above is a removable wallpaper from

last trip: the town of Oxford, Maryland

Oxford ferryIMG_3093

We have come to think of Labor Day weekend as our last chance at summer—last dip in the pool, last ride on the boat, last burger on the grill, last stroll on the beach, last ice cream cone, and so on. The days will get busier and shorter and chillier, and so we throw ourselves into a long weekend of all things “summer.” And even if it isn’t actually “the end” (for September can be warm and full of outdoor activities), sometimes a symbolic end is just as meaningful, if not more so than the real thing. Read more

a light, late summer supper

onthresholds_table with ferns and blue candlesticksFullSizeRender 16


August can be a tricky month—one minute we are frolicking in the sea and sand, and the next we are shopping for school supplies and getting back into a hectic daily routine. So, I thought I’d share this recipe for The Simplest Salade Nicoise because not only is simple what many of us need right now, but also because it allows us to use some of the late summer fresh vegetables and tuna in a jar or in a can (see note below about this!). It’s perfect for this time of year: elegant without being fussy, so it would be nice for Sunday supper, and, light and quick enough for a weeknight after a busy day. Read more

Sundays at the farmers’ market

Onthresholds_Sunflowers at FMIMG_3054

These late summer days have brought sudden storms and torrential rain followed by glorious days with billowing clouds, soft winds, and no humidity. They’ve brought sunflowers and dahlias and peaches and sugar snap peas. And, for me, the feeling that I must get to the farmers’ market for all of these things, not to mention the best tomatoes and corn on the cob before they are gone for the season. Read more

the scrapbook: hello August

onthresholds_sunflowers in blue and white pitcherIMG_3052

Sunflowers are everywhere now—I’ve seen patches of them in gardens, fields of them in the countryside, and buckets of them at the farmers’ market this past weekend. And I think I like them best that way—together as a group, not mixed in with other flowers. There is something about how tall they stand, how bold they look in the blazing sun, how of-the-earth they seem that suits their appearance in August, when the days are still hot and summer is still with us, but there is a hint of autumn in the air…

the scrapbook: Queen Anne’s lace

onthresholds_Queen Anne's laceIMG_3014

Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota)

“It is a very pretty chandelier of a flower fit to adorn the forest floor…The common carrot by the roadside, Daucus carota, is in some respects an interesting plant—for its umbel as Bigelow says is shaped like a bird’s nest, and its large pinnatifid involucre interlacing by its fine segments resembles a fanciful ladies’ workbasket.”

                              ~ from The Journal of Henry David Thoreau (July 3, 1852) Read more

17 Cresent Avenue: where Margaret Mitchell wrote “Gone With the Wind”

onthresholds_doorways MM HouseIMG_2985

The three-story red brick building in mid-town Atlanta where Margret Mitchell wrote the epic novel Gone With the Wind (1936) is called the Margaret Mitchell House. And though she did write the novel there, the unexpected thing is that Mitchell and her husband actually lived in a tiny apartment on the first floor of the house from 1925-1932, which consists of a living room, bedroom (also used as a dining room with a drop leaf table and two chairs pushed against one wall), and a tiny back kitchen. Read more

the scrapbook: espalier

onthresholds_espaliar trees at LadewIMG_2900

Espalier | noun | es-pal-ier : a plant (such as a fruit tree) trained to grow flat against a support (such as a wall).

They always catch my eye—even before I knew what to call them, I thought they were very attractive. I’ve learned that they have ancient roots and were a prominent feature in medieval monastic life because they could be grown in small spaces. And while most espaliers are fruit trees, roses and other plants with woody stems can be trained in this way as well. There are, also, many designs and patterns used in the art of espalier.

The ones pictured above are at Ladew Topiary gardens, where topiary, another art form for shaping trees into ornamental shapes is prominent, but where some espalier are also found.

Here is a link to an excellent article about how to master the art of the espalier.