The Miniaturist

 The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

In anticipation of our trip to Holland, I bought this book at the Dutch Painting show at the MFA in Boston last November.  It sat patiently until time for the trip.  I became instantly captivated by the world of 17C Amsterdam and the peculiar household of the heroine.  The right to publish this first novel by Jessie Burton was subject to an 11 publisher bidding war at the London Book Fair!  Over a million copies have been sold in 26 languages.  An impressive debut!


blog H doll house top floors

Dolls houses, Poppenhuizen in Dutch, were the hobby of the wives of very wealthy Dutch merchants.  On a weekend trip to Amsterdam,  Ms Burton visited  the Rijks Museum and saw the dollhouse that inspired the story.  The one above is in the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem.  It was created between 1743 and 1751 from parts of three earlier houses.

dollhouse attic with screen

There are only six surviving houses in the Netherlands and they give a fascinating glimpse into the domestic life at the time.  No area is neglected including the attics, here containing a exquisite miniature of a Japanese screen.

 Dollhouse dining room

Filled with tiny collections of Delft, pewter and glass, the dining room is set for a family of six.  The gold leaf panels shimmer against the vibrant green paint.

Dollhouse kitchen

Next door on the lower lever (you can see them both in the full length photo) is the kitchen, replete with fireplace and ruffled hood, spigots and cupboards of serving platters.

Dollhouse Hall

In a room ready for grand entertaining, a huge cabinet displays the most treasured possessions, announcing to visitors that this is a family of wealth indeed!  Its hard to remember how diminutive this all is!

Dollhouse Parlor

A parlor with an odd figure in it displays books, paintings and a stepped shelf of more blue and white porcelain.

 Dollhouse Music Room

With the grand piano, this music room must tell a story with its falling curtains and cracked mirror – but what?

Dollhouse bedroom

Bedrooms are not forgotten and, in these cold houses, bed hangings are needed to keep warn enough for sleep.

Frans Hals Mueum dollhouse exhibit

In another room of the museum, an exhibit of replicated and real rooms from this doll house and others allows visitors to get very close and see all the many many details in each room.  Did you read this book?  It was a little strange, but I loved it.  It received uniformly excellent reviews but online readers comments varied widely.  Her new book “The Muse” has just been published  in the US.


Posted in The Minaturist | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flowers for Friends

 Welcoming flowers

Is there anything more welcoming than lovely garden flowers in the beautiful home of a dear friend?  It doesn’t get better than that!  It was my great pleasure this week to go to one of my most favorite summer towns – Cooperstown NY – to lead a workshop for 12 floral designers from the Lake and Valley Garden Club.

Cooperstown NY View

flowerflinging visited Cooperstown last August (Summer Perfection, Aug 23, 2015, Archives).  It is the quintessential town that eschews big box or chain stores and has a real downtown, surrounded by blocks of lovely homes with fern filled side porches lined with chairs to watch the world go by.

Lakeside Garden

We also visited the lake-side garden of my gracious hostess.  What a treat it was to catch up over the two days of the workshop as well as a program for their membership!

Dining Room Flowers

Luscious flowers from her abundant garden were everywhere, including the dining room, zebra grass with such handsome lilies!





Hall flowers

 Sitting Room flowers

Don’t you love old houses that have been added on to and remodeled?  They have lots of charming extra places – just perfect for more flowers.

 heart felt stain

The flowers in the handsome guest room once contained some burgundy day lilies.  However, as they gave up the ghost for the day, they left a Jim Dine like stain on the pristine bureau scarf!

Guest room flowers

Guestroom flowers close up

Of course, being the impeccable hostess that she is – those Southern roots will out — nothing marred the surface when I arrived!

FA 101 flowers

This arrangement, done in the class by my hostess (and super organizer), arrived back home in a big orange Home Depot bucket for safety!

 Arrangements by friends

Finally after I headed back to the Berkshires, I received this photo of a design I did for the club program.  Thanks SK (and LVGC) for everything I had a ball!!!!


Posted in Cooperstown NY, floral design ideas, floral designs, flower arrangements, Party flowers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

More flowers from Holland

 Bouquet on tiles

In Holland you are never far from a bunch of flowers!  They come in many forms and many media and spread happiness and good cheer.  Twenty-four tiles make up this handsome bouquet in a equally striking urn.

 flowers Haarlem

 Lunch flowers Haarlem

Flowers were everywhere at Restaurant ML, a Michelin one-star restaurant in Haarlem where we had a superb lunch, served in an array of wonderful handmade plates and bowls.  Not overly studied or arranged, these combinations of the same flowers change with the changing shapes of the blown glass vases.

 Botanical Tulip painting

A “Tulip Book” of paintings on vellum produced between 1640 and 1700.

 Tulip on a double tileA rare double tile of an entire tulip from 1630.  How similar and not the painting and the tile are.

 Rijks Museum Flowers

The Rijks Museum center information circle, much like the one at the Met in NYC, and surmounted by a huge bronze ceramic container full of strange bed-fellows – three colors of anthurium (ruby, bright red and jpale pink),  white and pink dogwood, red ginger, allium,  light and dark pink snapdragons, thistles, monkshood and monkey paws.


 Rijks Museum Flowers and frogAnyone who has ever had to design a Dutch style flower arrangement knows the oddities they will encounter – biggest most important blossoms at the top, all arranged with flowers out-of-season.  The poor dead frog reminds us that the flowers and we won’t last.

 Still life 1639

Out of season flowers are not unusual in this global market but in the 17C, painter would paint the flowers  into their compositions as they came into season, or have a sketch book full of flower studies to choose from.

 Teylers Museum

Two hundred years later, painters were still composing beautiful flower portraits.  This magnificent composition highlights mountain laurel, peonies, phlox, roses, stephanotis, delphinium and a magnificent blue-violet iris.



Posted in Art and Flowers, Botanical Arts, Botanical Ceramics, flower arrangements, Tulips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments