A Garden of Dreams

It is late March and despite the subfreezing temperatures and the promise of snow later in the week, we just met with our gardener to discuss the vegetable garden we want to plant this spring.  The snow has finally melted, for now at least, and it appears as if some “early birds” are already nest hunting around the house, confirming that spring will arrive…eventually and our Garden of Dreams will become a reality.  The excitement is palpable.  Well OK, maybe it is not as exhilarating as winning the Mega Millions, which I tried unsuccessfully to do this weekend or even as stirring as the status of March Madness, but for Irwin and I and our slow home lifestyle, it is absolutely thrilling.

 

Irwin & our gardener measuring for the garden

 

An "Early Bird" Nest Hunting

 

We have been discussing the possibility of planting a vegetable garden for eleven years, ever since taking title of our home in the country. The thought of growing food along with caring for farm animals has been a dream of ours from the outset. It is almost impossible NOT to consider a slow home, farming life when surrounded by lush farmland, rolling hills and babbling creeks, but the reality of our weekender status never allowed us to move forward with either. 

 

lush Farmland, rolling hills

 

 

 

babbling creeks

 

 

However, that never stopped us from dreaming about as well as continuing to discuss it.  Early on, immediately following our first visit to the local county fair, I was convinced that raising animals was our destiny.  After looking at all of the beautiful farm animals brought to show at the fair, I knew that would be a part of our future in the country.  And while my dream of an Alpaca farm is still on the back burner, our dream of building a garden and growing our own vegetables is coming to fruition. Now that is progress, country style.

 

A Fair to Remember:

Howdy Cowdy

 

 

 

A couple of kids

 

 

This big piggy

 

 

Seriously, she's got Milk

 

 

Alpacas...on hold

 

 After sharing the fresh salad our neighbor Gloria, a master gardener, brought to our Road Party last summer, we revisited the possibility of planting a garden this year.  Gloria had offered to mentor us, which was just the impetus we needed to get the ball rolling.  While we had what we were hoping was the ideal location, there was still the issue of maintaining the garden during the week, when we are in the city.  That glitch was remedied when our wonderful neighbor Jeanne suggested that we collaborate on the vegetable garden.

 

Gloria's fresh garden salad- helped make our dream a reality

 

The plan was simple.  We would house the garden on our property (Jeanne does not have an appropriate spot) and she would help maintain and water it as best she could, when we could not be here.  After initial costs were calculated, we would determine appropriate shares of cost and harvest and go forward from there.  All we needed to do was wait for spring.

And what a wait it has been.  Despite several glorious spring days, we in the Northeast, are still experiencing winter weather daily but are hoping that eventually, (and by that I mean before July) spring will indeed arrive.

So here are the basics of our plan:

A ten by ten or smaller sized garden with raised beds. We don't want to bite off more than we can chew, at least initially.  A fence eight to ten feet high surrounding the garden to keep out the deer that use that area as a thoroughfare as they head up and down the mountain and chicken wire under the beds to deter woodchucks.

That is it: Simple and sweet, at least for now.   Much like our life in the country.

We'll see how this plan pans out.  I am sure like most other things, it will be a process with many lessons learned along the way.  But have no fear, I will be sharing updates as they occur and spring’s renewal as it transpires.

Just wanted to leave you with these beautiful faces of Charlie’s friends in the country. They stopped by to say hello while we were out making plans for our vegetable garden.

Finnegan

 

collie

 

 

And share this beautiful pair of bouquets, which are always in full bloom.  All the proceeds from the sale of these spectacular chairs will go directly to Komen CT.

 

 

 the entire proceeds from the sale of these beautiful chairs will go directly to Komen CT

 

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

 

Earth Hour Came A-Courtin'

Irwin and I decided to spend Earth Hour in the country this year.  We thought it would be a good opportunity to celebrate global renewal in a place that celebrates life everyday, in simpler, more basic way.

And simpler it is.  Our house is located in a rural community, where cow crossings outnumber street crossings.  Our single stoplight town is a twelve-minute drive down the mountain and has no drug store or cleaners. Our road is unpaved possessing neither streetlights nor sidewalks, and cell phone service is non-existent on our property.

Cow Crossing

 

Local Pedestrian

Our one & Only

While we celebrate the fact that we have indoor plumbing and electricity (most of the time), we have no internet access and put our cable television service on hold from January through May, requiring us to get in the car and drive over a mile and a half down the road in order to check our email or text messages. It doesn’t get much simpler than that for modernists like us.

That being said, celebrating Earth Hour in the country required very little powering down.  In fact, just before 8:30 pm, when Earth Hour began, only two small lights were on in the house and Irwin & I were already seated in front of a roaring fire, in our otherwise unlit Great Room.

Can you hear the roar?

As Earth Hour approached, we powered down the house and lit a small candle in a chamberstick as well as pair of beautiful candles in our courting candlesticks for extra light.  Yes, you read that correctly, courting candlesticks.

chamberstick

 

 

courting candles

I had no idea that courting candlesticks even existed until last time we were in the country and used these candlesticks.  I made a comment about the fact that these rustic candlesticks had a crank to adjust the candle up or down, and Irwin then explained that these were, in fact, courting candlesticks.

Courting candlesticks were used from the 1600’s through the 1800’s by the parents or guardians of proper young women to set an appropriate time limit for dates with their suitors. The candle would have been placed in the room where the young girl would have welcomed the young man.  If a parent did not approve of a young man, he or she might be inclined to put out the candle immediately.  If the suitor was well liked, the candle might be raised to the highest point to allow for a longer date.  Who knew?

 

Courting candlestick

And so Earth Hour was spent, relaxing in front of the fire with courting candles for added light.  While banding together with our global community is empowering and working towards a common goal of global sustainability is extremely important, we don’t need to wait for Earth Hour to arrive to “power down “ our lives.  The benefits of getting back to basics on a regular basis are bountiful and a renewed appreciation for the many blessings we already have in our lives is paramount.

Earth Hour Came A-Courtin'

 

Mother Nature's "Purge-ery"

Although I had anticipated posting a new ‘In Voice” post today, this morning’s walk along the Hudson inspired me to do otherwise.  The originally scheduled post will appear later in the week.

Manhattan was fortunate.  While this past weekend’s storms hit the outer boroughs, along with parts of New Jersey, Westchester & Connecticut, the island of Manhattan came through practically unscathed.  The weather was so tolerable, that I was able to resume my brisk walking Sunday afternoon.  While I fully expected to see downed branches on the street and throughout the park, what I encountered at the Hudson shore shocked me. 

The debris left after the storm

 

It seemed that the river’s waters had risen quite substantially during the storm and overflowed onto the docks and shoreline.  While the waters had receded, the Hudson’s gift to us remained: Miles and miles of trash.

While I understood the significance of this gift, nature’s “purge-ery” after the deluge, the impact of this event did not hit me fully until I returned to the Hudson for this morning’s walk. 

debris remaining today

 

Today is a glorious day, the antithesis of the events of the past few days.  And while the parks department has removed a considerable amount of the refuse, the clean up continues still.

Garbage bags filled with trash that washed up on shore

 

An unsightly reminder

 

I know that we are all working very hard to improve our environment by recycling, repurposing and using greener alternatives.  I know that the once polluted Hudson is far cleaner than it once was, but the evidence of our neglect cannot be overlooked and cannot be swept under the rug or into trash bags, even greener, reusable ones, without a moment of reflection.

re-usable trash bags

 

We need to step up our game.  While some of the debris from the storm could not be helped, most of the trash on display consisted of water bottles and soda cans, both of which are so easily recyclable, yet there they were, strewn along the river’s edge for all to see: A clear message from Mother (or Father) Nature. 

understandable debris from the storm

 

The ugly truth-What most of the debris consisted of

 

It’s as if Mother (or Father) Nature had had her fill and literally threw up all over us- returning to us what she could not digest.  It is definitely payback, our karma, which we all know can be a “B#@*%”.

So, here’s the memo directly from the front office, don’t turn your back on Mother (or Father) Nature, whose wrath we have seen so often as of late.   Take five extra seconds and properly dispose of cans & bottles, or even better, stop purchasing bottled water all together.

don't turn your back on mother (or father) nature

 

Let’s not have to wade through debris while on our nature walks at the shoreline.  Because while galoshes can be cute, nothing can replace the feeling of sand in between our toes.

 

 

Polka dot boots from zappos

 

sand between our toes

 

It was the grand finale of the 2010 Olympic games; the last competition before the closing ceremony and in a nail-biting display of skill and true grit, our fate was sealed in sudden death overtime.  Team USA was defeated by Canada and in a heart wrenching second, all dreams of US hockey gold were squashed.

As disappointing as it might be for the team, its fans and our country, we must not dwell on our loss.  We must embrace our success and remember the drive and determination that made us the great nation that we are today. This is particularly true in manufacturing and production.

Many of the industries that helped make our nation a manufacturing giant are shadows of their former glory and many more have moved manufacturing, production and customer support to the other side of the globe in an attempt to sustain profits. While many have abandoned the “Made in America” maxim, there are still many companies manufacturing quality products right here in the good old US of A; reinventing themselves as well as the way they do business in order to flourish in the 21st Century.  These companies understand that while prices may be difficult to compete with, quality and service are certainly not. We are proud members of this “Made in America” winning team.

We understand that, ”With simple, clean, comfort in mind, the “Greatest Generation” drew upon their ingenuity and determination, to produce timeless, elegant, modern decor.“  We are committed to lovingly restoring these fine examples of Mid-Century craftsmanship so that they remain testaments to renewable design for the 21st Century.” [ The Legacy of the Greatest Generation: It All began With a Sofa March 20, 2009 ]

By “re-making” these American beauties, we are not only perpetuating the fine work of the “Greatest Generation”, but we are reducing our carbon footprint and promoting greener, eco- friendly, renewable design. In addition, many of our  “remade in America” pieces are exported globally, contributing to the U.S. export market as well.

Here’s specifically what we do:

  • We deconstruct almost every piece that we acquire

  • We refinish and repair the wood

  • We polish the metal

  • We reupholster and repair and/ or replace the foundation of the piece [ Inner Beauty Feb 1,2010 ]
  • We rewire all lighting

And, in addition, we offer exclusivity.  What do we mean by that?

Well, when Irwin painstakingly combines elements from different Mid Century Modern pieces and adds his own design twist, he not only builds iconic “re-made  in America” pieces germane to today’s lifestyle needs, but by doing so, offers our clients the added luxury of exclusivity.  Our clients appreciate the inimitability of these designs, which are much akin to “Furniture Couture”, and facilitate the creation of personalized spaces.

Here are several examples of "Furniture Couture": 

 A one of a kind  Mid Century Pleated Mirror created by layering three different pieces together:

We've gone for the gold with this giant starburst mirror

A coffee table that has been "re-made" as an amazing bench:

 

We've taken silver with this Eyelash bench

While we know that we are not an industry giant and are truly a unique niche business, we also understand that contributions both large and small are instrumental in changing the way things are done.

Other "Re-Made in America" Favorites:

pair of Knoll style club chairs

 

Mid Century Modern Media console

 

tall modernist chrome lamps

 

MCM end tables

And while almost all of the furnishings, lighting and accessories in the gallery are made and “remade in America”, occasionally, we grant citizenship to a select group of foreigners who have pledged allegiance to being “Re-Made in America”.

italian glass Rod Sputnik Chandelier

 

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