Autumn has arrived with all of its spectacular colors and aromas and the excitement is palpable.  The once brilliantly green trees are almost bare, their leaves now blanketing the ground and snow seems to be in the forecast for some as early as…today.  After over five months of bringing the indoors out and utilizing our outdoor living spaces during those long and lazy days of spring and summer, we are preparing to do an about face.

 

bare but beautiful

 

Despite the fact that is still only October, seasonal commercials have begun to permeate the airwaves thrusting us into into:

t h e  H o l I d a y    Z o n e 

                                                                                                           

And while we would prefer the old school holiday season that begins on Black Friday, we also believe that to be “forewarned is to be forearmed” and that the extra month (if you can stand the plethora of commercials) is a gift; the gift of time.

With Halloween around the corner, we are getting ready to embark on that frenetic, exciting and unpredictable marathon of indoor entertaining that begins at the end of the month and goes on and on and on…and on.

So take a deep breath, pour yourself a cocktail and use the gift of time, not to become overwhelmed, but rather to plan, prepare and revel in the long season. 

Festival of Lights

  

This is a joyous time in the Gallery.  The anticipation of so many celebrations and the lifetime of memories that will be made are not lost on us.  We know all too well the importance of holiday celebrations in our lives and are delighted when our Mid Century masterpieces play an integral part.  After all, these pieces represent the talent and design ingenuity of our greatest generation.  They have been lovingly restored and re-invented, offering clients a unique opportunity to own a one of a kind piece that has stood the test of time and is available for immediate delivery.  And let’s be honest, who can resist that kind of opportunity?

 

One of a kind couture: Priceless

 

Whether you are hosting your first or one hundred and first celebration this season, there is a lot to think about. So let’s get started.

Today we will lay the foundation for holiday entertaining and focus on four key elements that need to be considered when preparing your home for the season.

 1.  Lighting                                                                                              

 2.  An amazing dining table                                                                           

 3.  Extra, multifunctional seating

 4.  Mirrors 

Regardless of your design aesthetic or your budget, there are a multitude of options available, and we always recommend that you purchase the best quality that you can afford. 

By the end of October summer’s endless days are little more than a memory.  When we turn the clocks back at 2 am on November 6th, evening will turn into an afternoon affair and supplementing the rapidly diminishing natural light becomes crucial.  This is the time to let your imagination shine and select appropriate additional lighting for your home, especially the areas you plan to use for entertaining.

 

Shedding some light on the holidays

 

Sconces & Chandeliers add light & sparkle; Mirrors help too

 

 

An absolute Standout: Massive sputnik with brass,copper & nickel

 

crystal sconces and sputniks, oh my!

 

 

 

Capiz Shell pendants; White as snow

 

brass & lucite chandelier all aglow

 

 

Lucite & Brass Table lamps: All wrapped up

 

The centerpiece for holiday entertaining is most often the dining room. If you have large celebrations and have adequate space, a large table or a table with an extra leaf or two may be best.  If your celebrations or space are on the smaller side, a smaller table will probably be more appropriate.  Whatever the size, chose a table that you LOVE and everyday entertaining will become a special event.

 

A dining table & chairs worthy of any celebration

 

 

 

Lucite, Aluminum & Glass Dining Table: Clearly a winner

 

 

 

An intimate celebration

 

 

 

 

With 2 leaves & Casters:Versatile and adaptable

 

 

No holiday season would be complete without adequate multifunctional seating.  This most often comes in the form of benches and ottomans that can be stored under other pieces if necessary and then moved to wherever they are needed, whether as extra seating at the dining table or as additional conversational seating.  The options are endless.

seating to spare

 

This bench is really on the ball

 

Pull up a seat...or three

 

This Mid Mod diamond bench: a gem

 

 

 

A pair:  Perfect...anywhere

 

 

A proper Probber

 

And there is no better way to enhance the sparkle & dimension of any space than the addition of a beautiful mirror.

Mirror Mirror on the wall

 

 

Right on target

 

 

a beautiful reflection 

So put your thinking caps and prepare to enter...

 t h e  H o l I d a y    Z o n e     

Begin the planning process early because while some of us (Irwin included)  are often inspired and creatively motivated by the adrenaline rush of last minute preparations, most of us benefit from early planning and organization.  And while there are sure to be a few bumps in the road, the season will be infinitely more enjoyable and      N O T  scary at all!

 


Blooming-hills

Over a week has passed since our 2nd Annual Road Party and while the bubbly and food have all but disappeared, the memories and flowers linger still. 

This year we opted for a brunch event where we served our newly famous Belgian waffles with fresh whipped cream and fruit along with home made biscotti and thirst quenching Mimosas.

 

Our very own chef: Irwin   

We decided to utilize the porch and front lawn, which are both shady and cool during the early part of the afternoon and had an immeasurable amount of help from our neighbor Jeanne, who co-hosted the gathering as well as our good friends Marty and Robyn, who came for the weekend.                                              

 

 Jeanne, our neighbor and resident bartender

Our neighbors brought an array of epicurean edibles including scrumptious spinach and mushroom strata, spinach and feta individual spanakopita, a homemade peach cobbler, herb biscuits, parmesan rolls, a fresh blueberry pie from the local blueberry festival and bottles and bottles of Prosecco.

                                 

Lots and lots of Prosecco

 

Unlike an evening event, which allows for more time to capture the set-up pictorially, a brunch with a warm main course does not permit such a luxury, so we hope you will use your imagination.

What I was able to capture were the simple,colorful floral arrangements Irwin made from an assortment of flowers Jeanne ordered from a local farm.  The total cost for the flowers was a mere thirty dollars and we are still enjoying the blooms more than a week later.  Irwin employed an assortment of vintage pieces including a silver plated pitcher, a pewter pitcher, assorted glass vases and our personal favorite, a ceramic swan that Irwin purchased in Virginia last year.

                                                   

  

a pewter pitcher filled with farm favorites

 

 

A silver plate pitcher filled with a breathtaking assortment

 

the same pitcher over a week later 

 

a simple table set with a petite bouquet

 

the petite bouquet the following week

 

 

a beautiful swan

 

beautiful still

 Needless to say, a good time was had by all.                                                                 
 

                                      enjoying the afternoon

        

In our last post we suggested using found objects to hold candles for a little Midsummer Lights Dream. Found objects can also make interesting containers for flower arrangements, making every day a special occasion.  And this time of year the burgeoning plethora of wildflowers are wonderful additions to seasonal blooms.                                                                                                                          

  

Wildflowers, including Goldenrod

So, this weekend, purchase or pick some of this season’s best and fill your favorite containers.  Whether you are enjoying your time indoors or out,   surround yourself with the sweet bouquet of flowers and enjoy your very own Blooming-hills.

 

 

 

 

 


How Green is Our Garden

Our Modern Garden is almost three weeks old and like most new parents, we are simply over the moon.  Our hearts are bursting with pride and our fledgling farm is flourishing.

 We arrived last weekend just in time to pick a substantial amount of lettuce, arugula, basil, spinach and parsley. 

        

A bed of Lettuces

  
The seeds planted are sprouting like mad and we anxiously await picking the radishes as well as the beets, which appear to be making quite a bit of headway while the carrots, cucumbers and sweet basil are still in-utero, so to speak.

 

sprouting seedlings

 

The menu reflected our current harvest and included:

Fresh Mozzarella, tomato and arugula sandwiches with olive oil and garlic on a fresh farm store baguette.

 

Baguette with Fresh garden basil

 

A wonderful mixed greens and arugula salad with goat cheese, beets ( not from our garden yet) and toasted slivered almonds.

 

Arugula salad

 

A delicious frittata  using garden spinach and basil along with feta cheese, tomatoes, peppers, mushroom and just a bit of mozzarella.

Fabulous frittata

 

 

And finally, with our garden greens all but picked we combined the remaining spinach, arugula and basil to make a fantastic pasta with pesto and sun dried tomatoes.

 Trifecta Pesto

 

 

With the weekend almost here and the plants replenished, some new "farm to table" dishes are sure to be on the menu.

 

And, have we mentioned our latest guests?

I awoke this morning to find this family of five woodchucks.  The parent was foraging on our lawn as the four babies lounged on the porch steps, posed for family photos and went exploring in our flower beds.  I'm hoping they graze on the lawn like their parent and not on out plants.

 

Proud Parent

 

Just Chillin'

 

brotherly love

 


Say Cheese

 

Enjoy the weekend!

 

What We Bring to the Table: Part 1

I have to admit, the upcoming Holidays really snuck up on me this year.  I was so busy capturing the lingering summer blooms I all but ignored the changing leaves, the changing of the clocks and the fact that whether I was ready for it or not, Thanksgiving was arriving.  

  

One of summer's last blooms

 

The imminent approach of Thanksgiving did not crystallize in my mind until I saw the magnificent Edward Wormley for Dunbar Dining Table that arrived in the Gallery last week.  When I saw it I was so overwhelmed, I could hardly catch my breath and I thought: What a magnificent table to celebrate Thanksgiving around.  Sometimes a piece of furniture can do that to you; it can evoke true feelings and memories in all of us.

Edward Wormley for Dunbar Dining Table with three leaves

 

Thanksgiving is the holiday of choice in our family, and our youngest son’s favorite meal of the year.  No matter what is going on around us; work, show houses, school applications, tests, papers etc., we always come together in the country for that day to gorge ourselves on the usual holiday fare and spend quality time together watching football, playing scrabble and monopoly and running around on the front lawn with Charlie.

 

Charlie

 

It is the simplicity of the day that everybody loves.  A time for true decompression and accordingly, no major pre-requisites or dress codes are required in our house on this day.  It is a come as you are, slow home, kick off your shoes, chill kind of day, ideal for celebrating life and giving thanks for all that we have. 

 

Come on, Kick them off

 

The table we gather around is perfect for the occasion.  While old and ruggedly honed, storing years of memories in every nick and scuff, it still offers us infinite possibilities for creating new memories every year. 

 

Dining: Country Style

 

And with the sounds of whistles from a far away football field echoing through the house, before we finally settle around the table, before we attack the cornucopia of another year’s harvest, I sit quietly at the table alone and listen to the sounds of the house.  I close my eyes and try to imagine our house in its earliest days, when much like Little House on the Prairie, it was a single room with a sleeping loft and an attached barn. 

 

little house on the prairie home
  photo courtesy of kansastravel.org

  

My mind drifts back to a simpler time and I begin to wonder about the man who built our house.  He, like us, had three sons and although his original acreage was substantially bigger (over 200 acres) and the house much smaller (originally a single room with an attached barn), I can’t help but ponder what else we share in common.  What I know to be true is that we share a love of this home and this land and for that, I am thankful.

The grave of the man who built our house- located in a cemetery down the road

 

So, no matter the size or extravagance of our table or celebration, what is most important is what we bring to the table.  Not the food or libations, which are a given, but the time together with friends and loved ones reminiscing and making new memories.  Enjoy the simple beauty of a day that reminds us to pause and give thanks Everyday.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Part II of this post: After Thanksgiving

 

This past Saturday night we hosted our first “Road Party” in the country and it was  spectacular!  It was attended by nine families including ours and was so successful, we have decided to make it an annual event.            

Our House

 

Unlike suburban neighborhoods with streetlights and sidewalks, our road in the country is light-less and dirt. While our home is situated close to the road, most of the other homes that dot our road are nestled in the mountainside at the end of dirt driveways, many of which are a half mile long or more. 

Our Road 

 

That being the case, it should come as no surprise that after ten summers in the country, we knew little, if anything about our neighbors.  But all that changed last summer, when we met our new neighbor Jeanne and her dog Zippy.

Zippy and Charlie became fast friends and Charlie (as well as Irwin & myself) eagerly anticipated Zippy & Jeanne’s impromptu visits before or after their afternoon walk.  Jeanne, living here full time for half the year had managed to meet more local people in her first month here, than we had met in the ten years previous and it was through her that we finally met some of our neighbors last Labor Day.

Zippy & Charlie: Best Buddies

 

This year Jeanne had a brilliant idea.  She suggested we collaborate and host a “Road Party” to get to know more of our “hidden” neighbors. Because there is nothing we enjoy more than hosting a party, we immediately offered our home for the event.  Jeanne dropped mailers in every mailbox and under every front door she could find on our half of the road (the road is over three miles long) asking people to RSVP and bring an appetizer, side or dessert.  We had no idea who or what to expect and the result was more wonderful than we could have ever anticipated.

Our neighbors regardless of whether they were able to attend or not, called and emailed telling us how much they loved the idea of a road party. Despite never having any discussion about specifically what anyone was bringing, the collaboration was astounding and the resulting menu blended together seamlessly and needless to say, the buffet was plentiful.

In keeping with our slow home philosophy, we re-purposed cloth napkins and dishes that we had originally purchased and/or made for our children's B’nai-Mitzvah years ago and made a tablecloth from an upholstery fabric remnant.  Using our own silverware, the only disposable items used at the gathering were about thirty plastic cups, which were recyclable.

Tableware set up: Nothing Disposable Here

 

Irwin took two colors of napkins from the assortment and in lieu of napkin rings, he used a roll of twine we had and rolled and tied each napkin with a simple twine bow; an easy and inexpensive touch that made tremendous visual impact.

Re-purposed napkins tied with everyday twine

 

Irwin then strategically placed cut flowers from our garden in vintage silver plated champagne glasses as well as a collection of vintage vases we have accumulated over the years.  He supplemented our garden’s bounty with flowers Jeanne had purchased at a local farm to complete the arrangements.

Vintage silver plated champagne glass with farm flowers

 

More home grown flowers

 

Farm Flowers in our vintage vase

 

More local flowers in a vintage silver plated bowl

 

 

And...More local & farm flowers

 

our miniature roses

 

And the food, have I mentioned the food? Well, all of the food we prepared as well as the food that our guests brought was made with locally grown or purchased ingredients and was amazingly fresh and tasty.

Irwin's Fresh Mozzarella, tomato & basil salad-locally grown with toasted ciabatta bread & hummus

 

 

a new twist: hummus served in margarita glasses

 

 

Can't you just smell the fresh basil?

 

 

Jeanne's home made roasted chicken salad

 

My home made pasta w/arugula pesto sun dried tomatoes goat cheese and local grilled corn

 

Our neighbor Gloria's garden salad made form vegetables she grew in her garden (sorry for the leftovers photo)

 

Drinks including water, Iced tea and my special vodka cocktail

 

Jeanne's home made peach & plum pie made with locally grown fruit

 

 

my home made cupcakes

 

 

 Charlie: Ready for guests

 

 

 

Although I stopped taking pictures when the guests arrived, I must list the delicious additions they contributed to the event:

  • A home made Ceasar salad
  • A home made Goat Cheese & Pesto Torta
  • A home made grilled summer squash salad ( squash grown in neighbor's garden)
  • Home made crab filled finger sandwiches
  • A fruit salad that included sever types of locally grown plums as well as peaches
  • An assortment of local artisanal cheeses
  • A rustic peach pie made by a local farm as well as a mixed berry pie from our local Biodynamic farm

But more than the wonderful food, the time spent getting to know our neighbors was priceless.  We met new neighbors to the road as well as long standing residents; weekenders like ourselves as well as full-timers. We shared a meal as well as our love for this special place on our planet and as the evening came to a close and we cleaned up, we all agreed to do this again next year.

 

Glasses that we frosted for oldest son's bar mitzvah in 2001 now staples in the country

 

As the moon set I set the alarm for two am, yet by midnight I was still awake.  I could not shake the events of the past few days and I could not get this phrase out of my head: “More being, less doing.”

 

The moon setting over "our" mountain

 

It is no secret that we love our life in the country. We have managed to rebuild a slow home that we have furnished with vintage and mid century pieces and live an intentionally slower life that we fully embrace.  We even held off bringing internet into our home for over ten years, fearing that it might inhibit the quality of life we enjoy here.  I write about it all the time, the slower pace, the thoughtful lifestyle, paying attention to the little things, making memories, taking the time to smell thethe rebirth of spring, but never had the importance of this lifestyle become clearer to me than this past week.

I attended the memorial service of a friend’s sibling, an extraordinary individual who passed away too soon. Although the situation was tragic, the celebration of his being was stunning and I walked away wishing I had known him in life. His wife’s words resonated in my head as she reflected upon their life together, wishing that there were “more being and less doing”.

More Bee-ing

 

So simply stated, it was profound: More being, less doing. Which brings me back to Friday night.  Setting the alarm and getting up at 2am would probably have not been a priority two or three years ago.  I would have probably set the alarm with good intentions and then shut if off and gone back to sleep.  I now know better.  Given the finite amount of time we are privileged to be here and how quickly it flutters by, every day & every experience is a gift to be savored. The time spent “being” is why we do all the ”doing” in the first place.

Life Flutters by

 

Although I know that inherently, and write as well as talk about it, I often forget to do it.  My children remind me of this all the time and to be honest, I am not always the best at practicing what I preach, but I am going to try each and every day as I chant my new mantra: More being, less doing.

So, Irwin and I took a blanket outdoors after 2am and lay under several more as we faced the Northern sky awaiting a five thousand year old event that did not disappoint.  We spent over three hours gazing at the meteor shower and the enormity of the heavens; just being, not doing.

Perseid Meteor Shower

 

It's All About the Little Things

While we can all agree that gifts of jewelry and expensive handbags are always coveted and appreciated, sometimes it’s the little things that cause our hearts to swell as we become teary-eyed and farklempt...And it is the little things that make our houses cherished homes.

That was just the way I felt on Sunday when Irwin surprised me with breakfast on the patio.  Irwin, our resident Frittata Master, chose to treat me to an asparagus and goat cheese omelet.  While the omelet was delicious, it did not bring a tear to my eye, despite the red pepper flakes.  What really touched me was the coffee station he set up in our prep/storage room, complete with farm fresh milk. It made a simple breakfast at home seem like a private dining experience in a lovely bed & breakfast; just a little touch that meant the world to me.

Breakfast waiting at the "Coffee Station" on the way to the patio

 

our storage/Prep room-Not yet finished

 

 

my coffee station-"A little thing" that meant the world to me

 

 breakfast gobbled up but the hydrangea remains

 

Irwin is constantly tweaking our home.  Editing and rearranging have become a way of life for our family and we all enjoy the inherent surprises that are revealed to us almost daily. It is absolutely true, that on any given day, we might arrive home to find our den and dining room flipped, or the master bathroom re-accessorized.

In light of this, it should come as no surprise that, while I was out of the house driving our oldest to the train station Sunday afternoon, Irwin was busy rearranging a corner of our bedroom so that I could have a dreamy reading niche.  Yes, yes, I know I have expounded on the many seating and eating areas in the house, but NONE of them are in our bedroom.  When I cannot sleep and want to read, I cannot do it in bed because Irwin is extremely light sensitive.  I have desperately attempted to circumvent this issue by implementing the use of reading lights…and even flashlights, but it was to no avail.  If I wanted to read while Irwin was sleeping, I had to go downstairs. 

 

My reading niche

But now those worries are a thing of the past, because Irwin generously presented me with this sweet niche he created by re-purposing pieces from other parts of our house including the stunning Hydrangea (the only bloom we had this year) that was on our breakfast table.

 

it's all in the details including my breakfast hydrangea

The focal point of the area is a vintage chaise that I adore.  Although it is delicate, it is extremely comfortable and I love laying on it.  I have my own reading light, far away from our bed that will afford me hours of uninterrupted reading while offering Irwin hours of uninterrupted sleep. Beautiful artwork,a fantastic screen, candles, a throw and fresh flowers complete the niche.  The only thing missing is a decadent box of chocolates...and me!

Perfect:Down to the smallest detail

 

Like “Dining Out…at Home”, the little things that we do to our living environment can make us feel like we are spending time in a lovely inn or hotel and who doesn't enjoy that?

Time at home feels like time away

 

I look forward to returning to the country later this week and relaxing with my book and a glass of wine in my reading niche, enjoying the little things that make everyday life so special.  But first, I’d better check with Charlie. I have no idea what he's reading.

Charlie's Book Club?

 

**Thank you Irwin for always reminding me to pay attention to the details and nuances in life!

 

The other day our country neighbor and good friend Jeanne stopped by with her delightful dog Zippy for a collaborative dinner and we once again began the discussion of where to eat.  It is not that we have no place to eat, but rather the opposite.  The number of places in and around the house available for sitting and especially eating has become somewhat of a joke amongst our friends over the years.

Charlie's good friend & neighbor, Zippy

 

It is true, we have many places throughout the house, both indoors and out to sit and relax and…to eat.  What can we say? Maybe it’s because we both come from families where food is so important, or maybe it is because in our city apartment, we have no outdoor space, and our formal dining room was eliminated years ago and combined with our living room to make way for a much-needed den.  Whatever the reason, if you are looking for a place to relax or…eat, we have a place for you!

 

dining in the great room under ceiling fans is a great alternative on warm evenings

 

We love spending time in the country and when we are not working on the house, we are usually relaxing and/or entertaining at home.  Irwin loves to cook and set a table so we rarely eat out and because Irwin is a creative genius whose mind is constantly churning out new ideas, it is essential that different venues are available for him to work in.

My favorite way to begin an evening: a pitcher of cocktails

 

Alfresco dining under a tree

 

Our Dining Room: A thanksgiving favorite

  

Most breakfasts are served in the kitchen or on the porch, where the usual fare is either my famous blueberry or banana pancakes or Irwin’s world-renowned breakfast frittata made with whatever is available in the fridge.

 

Our kitchen: open 24/7

  

 

the porch: No  Reservation needed

 

irwin's famous frittata

 

Lunch and dinner can happen almost anywhere but always feel special.

 

dining on our deck is lovely in the afternoon

 

So, whether you are two for dinner or serving twelve, have one eating area or more, little changes can go a long way in making  “at home” dining special.

For example:

We always use an abundance of candles, votives and tea lights.  They add warmth and make everything sparkle and glow.

 

Authentic atmosphere

 

Tea light in vintage cup with fish tank gravel

 

 

light, light and more light

 

When possible, we use cut flowers from our garden; they are easy and inexpensive and always look and smell wonderful.

Fresh garden flowers-always a hit

  

We usually mix and match glassware, dishes and flatware to create interest.

This mix on our patio is fun

  

AND…we primarily use cloth napkins with napkin rings.  I know, nobody wants to spend time ironing napkins- and the truth is, I don’t.  We use lovely cotton and linen napkins that just need to be folded warm from the dryer.

 

Lovely napkin rings a gift from good friend Maybelline Te

 

 

Another feast cooked by non other than Irwin

 

I know these suggestions seem very basic and they are, but with a little imagination, you too will feel like you are dining out…at home.

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