A Hard Days Night in the Country


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I spent Tuesday night at Ben’s brother’s ranch, the KW, deep in the country at Chappell Hill, Texas – a quaint, tiny town just one hour from Houston.   The distance in miles is short, but the terrain changes dramatically as you encounter the rolling hills of Washington County, one of the prettiest and most historical parts of Texas.   I am here to visit Shannon and Kirk and their kids, to be sure, but mainly I am here to rest up for Wednesday – the day the official Round Top Antiques Fair begins.   I know what I am in for and I know I will need a good night’s sleep before a full day of shopping.  For some reason, I sleep really soundly at Shannon’s and sure enough, they have to wake me up at 9:00 a.m. out of a deep slumber.   Of course Shannon and her other antiquing house guest, Carol, have been up for hours, already exercised and showered – all while I dozed blissfully unaware.  They left for Round Top while I drove with half opened eyes to Brenham, the bordering town, in a desperate search for Starbucks. 


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Tent cities of antiques spring up magically in every town and field surrounding Round Top.  Some are small venues and some are huge, like Marburger Farm.


The antique fair has already been in full swing for the past week.   In the fields and towns surrounding Round Top, tents are pitched here and there and each has its own opening and closing dates – but the main event at Round Top is always Wednesday through Sunday on the first weekend in April and October.   Over the years the fair has grown to enormous proportions.  We used to be able to see it all in one day – even leaving at 3:00 p.m. feeling that we had left no antiques unseen.  Those easy days are long gone.  Now it could take a week to hit every tent city in search of antiques and still, you wouldn’t see it all.   Originally, Round Top was in the Rifle Hall, a nice air conditioned building, and then you would head out to Carmine – another air conditioned building in the next town.   But ever since Emma Lee Turney sold the Fair, old traditions have changed.   Round Top has moved to the new, Big Red Barn with two huge additional tents.   Where once the fair was mostly Americana and Texan antiques, now Swedish and French have overtaken the newer areas like The Arbor and Marburger Farm.  The most popular venue today is Marburger Farms with its numerous and endlessly long tents that stretch so far out,  manned golf carts are there to cart you to and from your car.   The air inside Marburger’s tents is stifling hot and oppressive, it’s actually cooler to stand outside under the blazing sun than inside.    Obama should bring the prisoners from Gitmo here – they would be tortured enough inside the hot tents to confess to any war crime. 



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Two tin men and a horse, but where are the usual  throngs of people?


The biggest surprise this year was the lack of crowds.  Round Top is usually crowded with throngs of shoppers, but this time, the aisles looked so empty!   I’ve never seen it so quiet – it was an unsettling statement on our economy, but less people meant more breathable air for us.  It’s hard to imagine how much hotter it would have been had it been crowded!   As always, the most fun of the antique extravaganza is seeing old friends and meeting up with people.   I spent the day shopping with Brooke Giannetti from Velvet and Linen who flew in from L.A. for the event to buy for her decor shop.  Also shopping with us was Angela who flew in from Washington and had met up with Brooke in Austin Tuesday night.   As the day wore on,  I had finally had enough of the stifling heat and headed up to Brenham to see my friend Maryanne at Beadboard Upcountry.  Then, it was back to Chappell Hill to pack up and drive home to Houston.  Thursday, I spent the day nursing my sore legs.   If you’ve never been to Round Top, you should come see it at least once.   Yes, it can be overwhelming, hot, crazy,  and nerve wracking, but mostly it’s great antiques and great people!


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On Tuesday when I pulled up to KW Ranch, my niece and nephew greeted me on their horses, only in Texas, folks!




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 And Bella, a baby longhorn and the newest member of the KW Ranch family, came up to greet me too.  She’s sooo darling – look at the grass caught in her mouth!  Her longhorns are finally just sprouting out.



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Two of the three donkeys came up to see the visiting city-girl.  The donkeys just crack me up – they are so funny looking with their long floppy ears!  They work hard though- their very serious job is to protect the chickens, dogs, and cats by scaring off the coyotes. 



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I could only get a picture of two of the FIVE English Springer Spaniels – one of them is my Georgie’s litter mate!   Hi Sarita and Quatro!  There are also three cats hanging out, lots of rabbits, and tons of chickens which lay the most gorgeous pastel hued eggs.




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The front yard at KW Ranch.  During the spring the entire yard is covered with bluebonnets.



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My favorite place to blog while I’m here is under this huge Live Oak tree.



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The barn and stables where all the animals live.




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The swimming pool – you have to have one here in the summer!



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There is a charming guest house at KW Ranch, with two bedrooms.   Casita Dos’ bedroom is so beautiful with all its antique French furniture.



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The window coverings are so pretty!  



RoundTop2009 088 I love the chandelier mixed with the beadboard ceiling and walls and concrete floors.  Who wouldn’t sleep soundly in a bedroom this pretty?




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In the main house, Shannon has already decorated for fall and Halloween, of course!  She also bought out the entire supply of gourds in Washington County.    I’m sure she is counting down the days until she can put out her Christmas decorations.  I was under strict instructions not to take anymore pictures inside the  house until Shannon could style it all up, but antiques were calling us!   Next time I’ll show pictures inside – especially of her new turquoise colored office.




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The next morning, I’m off to Round Top, a short 20 minute drive from  Chappell Hill.   There were even some wildflowers along the way.   During the spring Round Top Antique Fair, the fields are a sea of blue from the bluebonnets which is a huge draw for Texans. 



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First stop is Marburger Farms– a tent city larger than Chappell Hill.   Notice something missing?  The people!    In past years the aisles would be filled with people.  Whenever I go to Round Top, I usually spend the first few hours overwhelmed by all the antiques.  It’s hard to stay focused on a mission when you are hyperventilating from all the beauty.  Then there is buyers remorse.  As soon as I made my first purchase, I walked around to the next aisle and found the same items at a better price!  Should I go back and return it or just forget it?  In the end, you just have to realize that no matter what you buy, you’ll probably see it again at a better price – you just have to keep moving. 



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Here’s someone I know:  Olga Granda-Scott from Dancing Through Paris!!!   Olga and her husband own the beautiful antique store Alhambra Antiques in Florida and they were showing at Marburger.  I was shocked at young Olga was!  She looked like she was 15, but I’m sure she is just a little bit older since she has three children.    That ridiculous looking person on the left is moi – the scarf lasted about 10 minutes in the heat.   See how empty the aisles were?   Unreal!



RoundTop2009 124 I’m in love with chandeliers that look like this – with a gilded wooden column and glorious crystals.  I could swear I saw this exact chandelier two years ago?!!   And at the price they were asking for it, it probably never has sold.



RoundTop2009 126 There was plenty of gray painted furniture everywhere, especially in Marburger Farm and The Arbor.   Brooke is more picky about her finishes than I am.   I just can’t afford the finest finishes, though I wish I could, but I CAN tell the difference though!



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This booth had great trendy things, especially for Marburger  Farm.  Look at the basket light fixture.



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Swedish in Texas from Atlanta. 



RoundTop2009 136 Pretty Swedish sofa and  Mora clock.



RoundTop2009 137 Grain sacks and burlap were everywhere.   Loving the lanterns, of course.  



RoundTop2009 138 I came to Round Top with one real mission which was to buy a zebra rug.   But everyone told me the “zebra” lady wasn’t here this year.  Well, they were all wrong.  She was there, but her trademark foot-high stack of rugs is now down to just two remaining ones.  And she said, this is it – she doesn’t think she will ever get any more!  At least I got one for my client – she was thrilled and so was I.  I was just glad I didn’t miss her otherwise I’m not sure my client would have wanted to pay what everyone else charges for them. 



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We left Marburger Farm to check out Round Top’s Big Red Barn where Bobo’s is.  Mark Sage had rented 20 spaces for all his things.  Of course it was located in the one unairconditioned tent at Round Top. 



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More Bobo.   Most disappointing was Mark wasn’t there,  I really wanted to meet the genius behind the wine barrel chandelier, etc.  But his assistant was extra cute and sexy, so that made up for it!   OK OK OK, I KNOW he wasn’t actually interested in the sweating, bloated elephant that I had become that day, but I can pretend!!!!



RoundTop2009 147The Garten:    The Garten had two booths – one in Marburger Farm and one in Round  Top.  Owned by Julie Greenwood (whose house I feature on my blog ad nauseum) who has the best taste, her booths certainly reflected this fact.  Both Brooke and I were foaming at the mouth over her things.   I wish I had more pictures of the merchandise, but at this point I was DONE with the camera.  Taking it out expended too much energy.  Energy generates heat.  But of course, Brooke, being so skinny and lithe wasn’t sweating like a pig like I was so she took more pictures.   After we left Round Top, Brooke wanted to go back to the heat of Marburger Farm.  So, we returned and found some great things we missed the first go round which was a real lesson to me.  I usually don’t go back for a second look – but it’s worth it when the merchandise is so beautiful.  Marburger Farm is definitely THE best of Round Top, in my opinion.  The dealers are, for the most part, top quality, with more Swedish and French inventory than elsewhere.  And it’s so large – its amazing how much wonderful inventory there is at Marburger.  Thursday night, a cool front blew in and the temperature dropped significantly.  I’m almost tempted to go back this weekend – it’s going to be so much cooler in Round Top, which is great for the dealers who have to sit there all day and even better for the shoppers. 



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At this point, the sweating Elephant had had enough and headed out, bidding goodbye to sweet Brooke and Angela.  Sshhh:  don’t tell the fat one, but hiding behind your purse does NOT make you look skinnier especially when you stand between two people who put together weigh less  than you do!  Shame!



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Off to a quick Starbucks pit stop and into Brenham to visit Maryanne at Beadboard Upcountry – the best store in Washington County.



RoundTop2009 185 Looking chic and cool as ever, Maryanne is going into the grocery business.



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My kind of place:  air conditioned!  And so cute too!   I bought one of her shawls in gray and black.



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Such a cute display!  A table set for one, with two chairs.   Someone just won’t eat.   I love her pillows – they are so darling and trendy and they match my necklace. 



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The best part?  There’s no place like home!   Contemplating my collection of blue and white transferware which is soon going on an extended vacation, thanks to my purchases at Round Top.  Stay tuned to see the changes I made to my Carol Glasser-inspired collection.   Living with something for over 15 years gets rather boring, don’t you think?




AND – To read all about A Day in the Life of Cote de Texas, go read it HERE on the blog, In Her Shoes.   I spill all my secrets, that’s for sure!!




AND BE SURE to listen to the new Skirted Roundtable where we talk about high and low decorating and that FAMOUS $349 Ikea slipcovered sofa (yes again!).    Tune in HERE for another fun filled adventure with the Two Grinches and the Jew aka The Skirted Roundtable.

Post Pink - 2009


Each year, Patricia of Mrs. Blandings fame, asks fellow bloggers to post PINK on October 1st to increase awareness about breast cancer and screening.   For more information on this important health issue for both women AND men,  go HERE and HERE.   Be sure to visit Mrs. Blandings HERE and all the other bloggers who joined her in this worthwhile endeavor.  Thanks Patricia for all you do for the cause.  You’re the best!

In choosing a PINK topic to blog about – what would be better than to revisit Martha Stewart’s beautiful guest house on her Maine estate, Skylands, which is painted and decorated entirely in – you guessed it pink!


Here in the living room of the four room guest house, Martha put sisal on the floor and painted everything – the walls and the trim -    this same luscious shade of pink.  Copper accessories are used as an accent throughout.   Be sure to notice how the window opens.   Charming!


At Skylands, Martha Stewart’s coastal Maine estate built for Edsel and Eleanor Ford, the guest house is a vision in pink.   The chosen shade of pink is warm and welcoming, closer in color to a coral than the cooler magenta.  The fact that pink was used is no mere accident: instead it is a rather obvious sentimental and romantic choice since Skyland’s main house was constructed entirely of pink granite that was quarried on the property.  Even the winding driveways are laid with a fine crushed pink granite. 

Skylands is located on Mount  Desert Island, high atop Ox Hill at 384 feet above sea level.    The property, with its 63 wooded acres and views of Seal Harbor, was built in 1925 by architect Duncan Candler.   Comprised of three stories with 12 bedrooms,  formal public rooms, expansive kitchen and laundry facilities,  it is the house that Martha calls her favorite.   There are numerous outbuildings on the estate including a greenhouse, stables, an indoor squash court, and even a large Catholic church!  Stewart purchased the house from its second owner fully furnished and once moved in, she discovered many treasures stored away, including a fully stocked wine cellar.  

Skylands spectacular  landscaping with its rocky and hilly terrain, was designed by Jens Jensen who used pine needles to create winding footpaths throughout the woods,  adding reflecting pools and moss gardens along the way.   Deep within the forest, a large circle was constructed out of rocks around a fire pit for late night gatherings. 

Martha’s restoration of Skylands, both inside and out,  has been meticulous of course.  But her annual grounds keeping rituals are truly awe inspiring.  At the end of each summer vacation season, in a routine devised by Jensen, the staff picks up from the numerous footpaths the top layer of pine needles, along with assorted fallen bark and leaves,  thereby exposing a cleaner layer of pine needles.  And even more back breaking work is left for the driveways – all the crushed pink granite is removed, where it is then cleaned and stored until the next summer season. 


In the dining room, a painting of a Venetian lagoon, by Stewart’s friend Kevin Burger, hangs on the wall.



Stewart poses in the dining room with its table made of gray terrazzo.  The color gray is found throughout the guest house – including on the ceilings which are all painted that soft hue to complement the pink.



Gorgeous flowers in all shades of pink are found throughout the guest house.




The bedroom is filled with vintage wicker furniture all painted a unifying gray.  The sconces came from Martha’s grandmother.



The view from the desk in the bedroom looks out over the water.



A chaise is placed in front of the fireplace – much needed in chilly Maine.  The large mirror reflects the harbor.



The soft pinks continue into the bathroom.  The wicker table acts as a linen closet.   Martha found the pink Venetian mirror at a consignment shop.



The bathroom is the one place in the guest house where white is used to pop all the pink.   The free standing sink has white porcelain knobs.


 [skylandsdriveway.jpg]The driveway into the wooded Skylands is made of pink granite – which at the end of each summer vacation season, is all picked up, professionally cleaned, then stored until the next summer.



Skylands is surrounded by a series of stone terraces.  Here you can plainly see the pink granite that the house was built of.  Notice the gorgeous leaded windows found throughout and the beautiful slate roof. 



Throughout the woodlands there are a series of footpaths, mostly made of pine needles and slabs of stone steps, where needed.



The circle made of rock surrounds a fire pit – the site of many late night activities.


As it was in the 1920s – shortly after it was constructed out of pink granite for Edsel Ford.  Martha Stewart is only the third owner of this majestic estate.



Be sure to go HERE and HERE to read more about breast cancer awareness and screening.