Beautiful Life and Style

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Museum Monday: John Singer Sargent Watercolors

I am always reading about interesting art exhibits around the world, and while I hardly have the time or budget to visit them all, I have decided to do a series of posts highlighting them here. Maybe you will have the opportunity to visit and report back on these “Museum Mondays” so I may live vicariously through you! For this first week though, I thought I’d start with the City that I live in, and one of the largest exhibits this fall- John Singer Sargent’s Watercolors.

I don’t know where my passion for art museums came from. One of the earliest museum memories I have is of course, visiting the MET as a kid with my school on one of our yearly field-trips. The book From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was also one of my favorite reads in third grade (can you imagine living in a museum!?) But I think my enthusiasm really solidified when my parents took us to see the John Singer Sargent oils exhibit at the MFA way back in 1999 (don’t I feel old!) It was a big deal, and the first modern retrospective for the artist- and how fitting that it was in the City of Boston, his American home and at the Museum so closely tied to his history- he after all painted the murals on the ceiling there! Either way, I remember driving up from New York and experiencing masterpieces such as The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose and Fumee d’Ambre Gris which to this day, remain some of my favorite paintings. In fact, when I visited London 4 years later, I INSISTED to my Aunt that we visit the Tate just so I could see “Carnation” in person again. So imagine my delight when I learned that once again the MFA would be doing a collection of Sargent’s works, and this time specifically, his amazing watercolors.

When Sargent began painting in watercolor, he was already a well established portrait artist. Everyone can agree he had mastered the art of oil painting and it is suggested that he was becoming flat out bored. He needed a change of medium, and he craved to take his easel out in the field and around the world. Which is exactly what he did: traveling to deserts of Syria and the canals of Venice. However, while anyone who saw them gave the paintings glowing reviews, Sargent largely considered these watercolors to be for himself, they gave him great pleasure and they were NOT FOR SALE.

The Bridge of Sighs

His friend from Boston, Mr Edward Darley Boit (yes, the one with the daughters), insisted that he consider putting the pieces in an exhibit and selling- and Sargent agreed – but ONLY if the works were sold as a collection. I get the impression Sargent hoped the works would land at the MFA, but in a twist, the Brooklyn Museum won the collection of 83 works. Sargent was soon certain that the patrons in Boston, realizing they had missed out, would also want a watercolor collection of their own. So of course, for this second round, he spent more effort creating each one- a little less of a “study in watercolor” and instead more standalone pieces of art. The pieces were larger and most of them were signed. In the end, the MFA acquired the collection of 45. This current exhibit brings the paintings from both collections back together in one place. It is interesting to compare and contrast!

Villa di Marlia, Lucca- A Fountain

Sargent’s watercolor painting are very unique in the way they are created. In fact, there is a video playing at the exhibit where an artist tries to recreate one of the paintings- it was incredible to see how she had to work to achieve the lightness of the brushstrokes while at the same time creating such dark opaque colors.


What else makes these watercolors special? Well at the end of the day, they are still very Sargent. It has been said, that NO artist has been quite able to capture white the way that he was. Take his work “Reading” as an example. The whites in her dress are not pure white brushstrokes, but also grays and blues and yellows and even the slightest tint of green reflecting from her parasol. There is also an entire room of watercolors capturing the carrara marble quarries in Italy. The immense stones are cast in 1000s of shades of white and gray.


Carrara- Lizzatori I

John Singer Sargent Watercolors is running now through January 20th at the MFA- and I have a membership if you are looking for a tour guide! Nick and I attended the opening for this exhibit so I can say firsthand how magnificent it is. I hope you have the opportunity to visit. (And if you are wondering, yes- it wasn’t by accident that I chose to wear a watercolor print dress)

us at opening


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The Shoes He Wore

I know I keep saying this- but I’m really having trouble getting back into the swing of blogging. I’m even lacking in reading other blogs! My google reader has HUNDREDS of unread posts to catch up on. Please bare with me!!!! Big rewards for the readers still out there! 😉 I promise I’ve been cooking up a great recap/ city guide from our trip to St. Louis, dreaming up beautiful summery outfits and planning summer garden parties. But TODAY I just wanted to share the AMAZING May cover of Boston Magazine:

Boston Magazine May Cover

It’s a powerful image for sure- a collection of shoes from runners of the Boston Marathon coming together in one heart. There is an incredible story about how it all came together on their website. My favorite quote:

“To me the cover is about two things: perseverance and unity. By itself, each shoe in the photograph is tiny, battered, and ordinary. Together, though, they create something beautiful, powerful, and inspirational. Remove just one shoe and you begin to diminish, in some small way, the overall effect. Collectively, they are the perfect symbol for Boston, and for our response to the bombings.”

I also wanted to share the image because its not everyday your boyfriend makes the cover of a magazine- and Nick was lucky enough to be one of the shoes included (his are the grey and green ones below the O-S of Boston). Maybe a small consolation for not finishing the race? Probably not in his mind, but still very special. Its interesting to see how his is literally just one piece of the puzzle- thousands of stories joined together by one event.

Boston Magazine May Back Cover

back cover

And I know that next year they will all definitely finish the race.


The 25.3 Mile Marathon

I was so excited and looking forward to sharing my weekend here today- and now I’m having trouble even finding words. When I woke up yesterday it was the most beautiful, sunny Spring morning. I literally popped out of bed at 5:30 with enthusiasm (those of you who know me KNOW how ridiculous this is) and hustled Nick to Trinity Church to meet his team and watch him board the buses to Hopkinton.

Marathon Cheering

I then spent the day with my family, driving to different points along the race course to cheer him on. It was exciting and SO FUN! We first spied him in Natick with the enthusiastic pep in his step, cheered him on in Wellsley at the half marathon point, and followed him all the way to Newton, to catch a glimpse of him struggling up the top of Heartbreak Hill.

Nick Heartbreak Hill

And then, well, he didn’t get to finish. MONTHS of training cut short at the 25.3 mile point. Instead our day ended in confusion, chaos and sadness. I can’t really describe the roller-coaster transition from one of the happiest highs- to one of the worst lows. We didn’t have a celebratory dinner like planned, instead we hustled home and glued ourselves to the TV, watching for updates while the sound of sirens and helicopters surrounded our apartment.

Marathon Monday is one of the biggest days in Boston. Heck — it IS  Boston. I think the only day that might be considered a bigger deal is when we have a duckboat parade after our sporting teams win a championship or maybe the 4th of July. Running is such a big part of our city and the marathon is our once a year celebration of that passion. We line the course with our banners and signs and SCREAM our hearts out for the people running and inspiring us.

I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around how much worse it could have been for us. If Nick had run a little faster we would have been right there across the street fr0m the explosions.

Marathon Ticket

So today I’m sad for so many reasons. 1. for Nick who was robbed of his first Marathon finish, 2. for my City- which was kicked down and ripped apart on its most celebratory day, and of course 3. for the families who weren’t as lucky as mine to be safe from the danger. My heart breaks for them especially.

I woke up this morning to another beautiful sunny Spring morning. But it was different. And while I KNOW we will bounce back even stronger – it will certainly take us some time to be back up and running.

Swan Boats on Marathon Monday

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Scenes from the Boston Flower and Garden Show

Hi there! I’m back! Where have I been?? Hiding under the covers avoiding the snow? Jetsetting around the globe to fabulous destinations (HA!) Nope, believe it or not- I’ve been working! I’ll let you swallow your shock. In all seriousness though, this blog is NOT my full time job and every once in a while my real one does pick up quite a bit. Engineering has its ups and downs based on project schedules and lately I’ve been designing buildings non stop.

I did happen to squeeze in a visit to the Boston Flower and Garden Show this past weekend. I had never been before and was happy we finally made the trip. It was a nice break to the endless winter we were having. I’m seriously craving Spring!!!


For the event, the entire World Trade Center Exhibition hall is transformed with several gardens of varying styles brought indoors.. I can’t imagine the amount of work that goes into setting this up. Not only do the exhibitors have to build up the planting areas, fill them with soil, plant all of the TREES, bushes, flowers etc, build patios and arrange seating areas, BUT THEN some of them even go so far as to install working waterfalls and fountains. I’m explaining this all poorly, but here are my best pictures. I’ll apologize in advance for any cameo appearances by Boston area grandmothers- they were swarming the place!


This was by far my favorite setup- not only did they have flowers and a gorgeous fountain- but do you see those “cages”?? THERE ARE REAL BIRDS IN THERE:


Nick was pretty much ready to move into this child’s playhouse- I can’t say I blame him:


There were also a bunch of vendors “peddling their wares…” Everything from wind-chimes and outdoor grills, to local honey and outdoor inspired art. I was in LOVE with these framed butterflies (I have a butterfly weakness).


Of course these gigantic garden displays are lovely if you own a house with a big yard and have $25,000+ to spend on landscaping, but for me and my current living situation, everything was more of a mental note for “someday”. Thats not to say there weren’t some more indoor friendly garden ideas. This Bonsai was out of control beautiful and I STILL am obsessed with terrariums. There was also an entire room of beautiful floral arrangements.


I can’t wait to go back next year! I really would recommend the event to anyone who finds themselves in Boston in late March. While I can’t promise that it won’t be winter outside, it was certainly a welcome taste of Spring.

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I was planning to write…

… but a mob got in my way. Really. I was PLANNING to write today about the Restoration Hardware opening that Nick and I attended last night. The new “RH Gallery” has completely transformed the space once lived in by Louis, Bonwit Teller and the old Boston Society for Natural History (aka what is now the Museum of Science).

Well, if you follow me on twitter, you might have seen my rantings about the relative MAYHEM at the party.  This one ended up being shut down by the police- and not in a “oh how cool” sort of way. Honestly, the space was AMAZING- but there were so many people we could barely move. I couldn’t find one drink, or tasty snack and while the singer Edei was good- I’ve been less pushed around in “mosh pits” at metal concerts.

I’m over being disappointed, so I’ll leave you with my ONE picture. (note that its of the only good view I had- the ceiling) I’ll have to visit this weekend to better view the architectural renovations. Stay tuned!

Restoration Hardware Boston