Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Hostess to Herself

Shall we climb these steps to visit a house I love?

Our hostess, Mrs. Harold M. Bixby, is a darling and will welcome us as graciously as she did Anne Morrow Lindbergh in the 1920s when she was a guest there, as described in her heartbreaking Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead. 

"A rather small low house, low ceilings...

and French windows...opening out onto a dark cool garden.

Inside, lovely prints on the wall...bright zinnias in a vase...

upstairs, an old four-poster bed...

and some fine rag rugs,

and very dainty bathroom things...

Mrs. Bixby is quite striking-looking--

young and assured and calm with the assurance of a woman who is happily married,
has a lovely home, children, old enough (herself) to be settled
and young enough to be very nice-looking,
and who has enough time to take on the side university courses on Goethe, etc....
and to pick zinnias!

She is a kind of hostess to herself."

Anne Morrow Lindbergh in Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead

I would adore being a weekend houseguest at Mrs. Bixby's. Always a lover of low rambling houses, I'd carry my overnight bag inside and make my way upstairs to the bedroom with the four-poster bed. After brushing my teeth at bedtime and washing my face, I'd pad my way back into the bedroom across the old soft rag rug and climb into bed.

The next morning I would join Mrs. Bixby and her handsome children at breakfast. Mr. Bixby left early to attend a meeting at the bank. The maid would bring in our half grapefruits first and then soft-boiled eggs in egg cups of Spode's Chinese Rose. Plates of crisp buttered toast would be set at each end of the table.

Mrs. Bixby asks me if I'd like to play tennis with the youngsters after breakfast or curl up at one end of the sofa in her morning room while she takes the other end to read a book she wants to finish this weekend.

I say I'll keep her company. She smiles and says that a few friends will join us later for luncheon on the terrace.

Mr. Bixby should be home by then if not delayed. In any case, he will be here to squire us to the dinner and dance at the country club tonight, and my escort will be here for drinks beforehand. Do I need the maid to press my frock for tonight?

Please don't wake me if I'm dreaming. I'm just playing at being a hostess to myself, like Mrs. Bixby.

Oh, and my escort for the country club dance?

Do tell, how do you play hostess to yourself? Or host, if you're one of my few gentlemen readers?

Unleash your imagination!

Picture credits:
Some of these pictures were from my collection of vintage Woman's Home Companion magazines, others were on Pinterest from The pretty vanity mirror belongs to Sissie at 

The "Zinnias in Vase" was by American artist Jane Peterson 1876-1965. And the table setting with Spode's Chinese Rose has Between Naps On the Porch watermarked on the picture from Pinterest but would not link back to her post. I only have three plates of Chinese Rose so used this lovely picture.

I could not find a picture of the real Mrs. Bixby. I did find one of her husband and he was very distinguished and debonaire but the photo was poor. He was part of the original Spirit of St. Louis team.


  1. Oh Dewena, I love your imagination! Don't you sometimes wish to be back in those gracious days?

  2. Nothing as fancy as that. I pour myself some coffee and head to Blog Land. Not a very inspired hostess to myself, huh?

  3. Dewena, What a lovely dream world you are living in. The stairs are all the flowers..and your date, yummy. xoxo,Susie

  4. Dewena - I want to live in your dream world!! Those stairs are just gorgeous. Can you imagine having those for real?

    Enjoyed your post.


  5. Very nice. I love the white arbor.

  6. I would love visiting Mrs. Bixby's lovely home. My mirror fits in very well and thanks for the link. I'm a follower now and love your blog.


  7. Delightful post!! I would love to join you for a weekend visit. I wouldn't want to leave, I'm afraid!
    Mary Alice

  8. Dewena, I love all the images, especially the bedroom! What a wonderful post! We COULD all be "a kind of hostess" to ourselves. And thank you for the great Cary Grant picture!


  9. Dewena this is such a lovely post in so many ways.

    Thanks for stopping by the Back Porch. Yes, there really is a Louisiana Missouri.:-) It is a wonderful Mississippi River town, with beautiful old homes. It isn't far from where we live.

  10. The house is charming. I do like rag rugs.

  11. well. darling dewena!
    i was there. loving every glorious minute. i came for lunch on the terrace.
    my own home across the way is not unlike mrs bixby's.
    i breakfast in an enclosed sun porch with black and white tile floors and pots of large palms and a white scrolled french iron plant holder that is home to my myriads of wild African violets in little pots. i like to write letters there.
    i will be going for a swim in my azure pool later ~ when the summer heat is full on. i hope you ladies will come over and join me there for tea.
    it's delightful in the shade ~ drying lazily from the cool water.
    i'm glad you're visiting mrs bixby and that you're now my friend too! do stop by often!

  12. What a lovely daydream. I was with you all the way but as you had first pick of the escorts, I had to settle (happily) for Gregory Peck.

  13. Dewena,

    Your post is charming. You have to know I love that about comforting and cozy. You make my imagination run wild...I love it.

    Also, thank you for such a kind comment. Yes, I am still unpacking bins to return to the kitchen. Oh happy day!


  14. Dewena Lovely, simply lovely..I daydream but nothing like that; once when I arrived at work I text my husband that I was here; letting him know I got to work OK, except I text him I'm here at the Beach House darling; kids and I finished breakfast, they are running and playing in the sand, I am enjoying a cup of tea and soon will write...please do finish up and join us! He responded will be arriving this afternoon; please don;t tell the children I want to surprise them. LOL That was the extent of it...Love your post :)

  15. oh what a beautiful house! right now, no time for hostessing for me...too busy trying to figure out how to put this place on the market, sell and move.

  16. Simply beautiful colours...lovely!

  17. Loved this!! The way to live!

  18. I could very easily settle and enjoy living in this splendid old house, with character abound.
    Stepping back in time, gentler days, and so full of classic beauty.
    Thank you for sharing.

  19. Love the pictures and that wonderful house. I could step right in.

  20. Aw...this is such a sweet and nostalgic post! LOVE this....and it would be so nice to actually live the way they lived back then....

  21. Just when you think it cannot get any better...your escort for the dance shows up. I may not even leave for the dance. I think it would be nice to stay on the terrace with a nice drink and watch the moon and stars above as we feel a light breeze in our face and have a quiet conversation. I will walk him down those beautiful steps when it's time for him to leave..............sigh.........(haha). (you are so fun Dewena).

  22. What a dreamy post, Dewena. I loved all of your photos and I loved your commentary too. laurie

  23. I'm too shy to go to the dance, but would love to linger in the garden until dusk, rummage something from the kitchen for dinner and take it to my room to sit beside the fire and read until you get home. We'll stay up too late while you tell me all the lovely details about your evening with Mr. Grant. I won't mind a bit if you embellish, you tell such a good story. Will there be muffins for breakfast in the morning? And strawberries? I won't mind so much that I hadn't the courage to go to the club dance if there are muffins and strawberries as consolation.

  24. What a lovely, lovely post. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

  25. LOL this was such fun! :) I think that I smiled the whole way through from the steps on, but cracked up at the end :)

  26. Oh how I love visiting you here! You really open the story up for us and I am wishing I could be transported back in time to visit Mrs. Bixby! Oh those glorious days gone by!

  27. How did you enter MY imagination, including the rag rug?

    BTW, kept seeing Cary Grant when I was studying historic gardens in northern Italy. He was always getting off another water taxi in Lake Maggiore. Truly.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara


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