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!

 

Wordless Wednesday: Our First Harvest

Well, our Modern Garden is little more than one week old and we have already “harvested” our first crops.  Our seed plantings have all begun to sprout and our vegetable plants, like all of the plants and flowers on our property are experiencing mega-growth.  While our neighbor Gloria attributes the plant and flower growth to the fact that all the plantings were covered in three to four feet of snow during most of the winter, we can only attribute the early success of our vegetable garden to the combination of good soil, lots of sunlight, more than a fair amount of rain, luck and…LOVE.

Whatever the reason, the results are very encouraging as well as delicious, and "locally grown" has taken on a new meaning.

 

Farmer Irwin harvesting picking lettuce

 

 

 

Beautiful baby green & red lettuce

 

 

Arugula

 

 

Spinach, basil, parsley & tyme

 

AND, our good friend and partner Steve has just given us two tomato plants that he grew from seeds to plant so...stay tuned!

A Modern Garden

Two months after sharing our first post about our Garden of Dreams, it has become a reality.  But as is often the case with best-laid plans, the final incarnation is much different than the original proposal.

Yes, it is true: we got carried away!  We got so caught up in the excitement of having our very own, slow home garden this summer, that we neglected to realize that our initial plan of 10’x10’ raised planter beds was waaaay too ambitious for citiots like ourselves.  In addition to it being too large and requiring serious fencing, it was too far from our water supply and would have required massive amounts of bending.  So we went back to the drawing board and our wonderful neighbor Jeanne, who is collaborating with us on this venture, came up with an alternate plan.  She found Western Red Cedar tool-free assembly elevated garden beds made by Gronomics and we purchased two from our local garden store along with a simple gardening book that explained how to prepare the planting beds. 

 

A garden in a Box

 

 

Read and Seed

 

We initially planned on placing the beds, which measure 34” x 48” each, in front of our shed, but after waiting patiently and unsuccessfully for days and days and days AND days for the sun to make an appearance so that we could ascertain if the location was indeed sunny enough, we decided to plant them in our driveway, where we were sure that six hours of daily sun would not be a problem.

 

Sun-where?

 

So this past weekend, in between the thunder, lightening and soaking rain, we assembled the beds and planted the garden.

Our intern: Zippy

 

Simple Assembly: A Family Affair

 

The finished product

 

  Thanks to Jeanne’s diligence and research, we filled the beds with a mixture composed of:

1/3 Vermiculite

1/3 Peat Moss

1/3 Compost mixing three kinds including organic compost, a compost/humus mix and compost Jeanne had accumulated last year.

How to make your garden grow

 

For Peat Sake

 

We began by spreading a tarp and combined the mixture for each bed separately so that it would be more manageable.  Then our youngest son shoveled it into the beds where we continued to mix it and water it so that it was well blended and moist.

three kinds of compost

 

Blending the ingredients

 

Raking it in

 

the perfect blend

 

the good earth

 

hands on work

 

 

We planted one bed with plants including two kinds of lettuce, two kinds of mint, arugula, spinach, jalapeno peppers, red peppers and thyme and the second bed with seeds for carrots, cucumbers and radishes along with several kinds of beet plants.  We are planning on filling in with other herb plants this coming weekend and are still discussing how best to house tomato plants.

Separating the arugula

 

Almost done

 

put to bed

 

great greens

 

ready to grow

 

 

our dream team

 

 


 For now, both beds are covered with bird netting to discourage the deer, possibly the only animals that can reach the comfortable height of 32 inches.

 

 

Net worth

 

Just born but sure to grow to love our garden

 

There is something so wonderfully rewarding about getting your hands dirty and planting food to harvest that we all, including our youngest, were swept up in the excitement.  We were so thrilled with our initial planting, we ran back to the farm store for more plants!

And this is just the beginning.  If we are successful with these two raised beds this season, we will plant the larger raised beds we had originally planned, next year and use these two raised beds for herbs.  And there I go again, getting ahead of myself, but it is almost impossible not to.

The simple pleasure of this modern take on ancient agrarian farming has really inspired us and the possibilities are endless. With our Garden of Dreams taking shape, can Alpacas be far behind?

our future??

 

So, as you begin your holiday weekend, think about building your own Garden of Dreams, however small.  The results will be magical!

 And here is the proof: Our first radish sprouts popped up yesterday, just three days after planting the seeds.

A sprout even the green giant would be proud of

 

 

 

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

 

The Sweet Smell of...Roses

I can’t help myself.  When springtime explodes in the country and we are on the cusp of summer my heart literally skips a beat.  When hummingbirds visit while I have my morning coffee on the porch and fireflies light up the night time sky like fireworks, I am in heaven because I know that this is the season when we become more than transient guests in our own home.  This season, however fleeting, is the one that literally forces us to stop whatever we are doing and smell the roses.

While Irwin and I try to get away for at least one night a week during the year and spend part of the winter holidays in the country with the family, it is not quite the same as the late spring and summer when we afford ourselves the luxury of spending considerable blocks of time in our rural retreat.

And…what better way to welcome us for the season than to be greeted upon arrival on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend by a sweet little bird finally building the nest I had been pining for since the start of spring; the nest that has been there every spring/summer since we bought the house, the nest I was so disappointed not to see on Mother’s Day.

 

The perfect building project began on Friday-moved in on Sunday

 

It is part of my ritual.  When I arrive at the house, I walk around and examine the changes in our plantings and check on our seasonal guests including the Robin’s nest in the gutter and the other in our beloved Dogwood.  Imagine my utter surprise and sheer glee when I saw the first specks of mud on the porch roof. At that moment I exhaled, knowing that all was right in our little piece of the universe.

We all know that is so easy to get caught up in the complexity of daily living and lose sight of the time we need to spend enjoying the beauty we are surrounded by.  But acknowledging it and doing something about it are two incredibly different things.  Just the other day, I had that very discussion on Twitter with two good Twitter friends, @tandemantiques and @jonathanlegate.  We all acknowledged the fact that because summer is fleeting, we must take time to “smell the roses”, a priority that we often overlook.  I said that I needed to enjoy EVERY moment of this precious season and take it one day at a time.  Hilary (@andemantiques) agreed adding “It's true - I know that I sometimes squander my now because I'm focused/worried about down the road”, something we are all guilty of and Jonathan added: I’m “always thinking of the future but taking time to enjoy the present while respecting the past.”   A truly beautiful statement that says it all and is something we should all allow ourselves to do.

So, here is to summer and the beauty it reveals to us everyday.  Let’s all make a commitment now to stop and enjoy "the sweet smell of... roses” this season before it is just a memory.

Some of "the roses" we have stopped to smell this season so far: Enjoy!

Superb Spirea

 

 

colossal Catnip

 

Color-fusion

 

 

relaxing Goldfinches

 

A statuesque Iris

 

 Breathtaking Day Lilies

 

A humble bumble bee

 

The beauty of another sunset

 

The Golden glow of evening's approach

 

 

The warmth of a tea light

 

Only nature's song can be heard

 

the dance of the flames

 

Waxed beauty

 

 

Our mentor Charlie, who inspires us everyday & reminds us of how sweet the roses can be!

 

 

 

It is often said that you can never go back, that it is best to allow memories to remain as memories because all to often, when revisited, reality pales in comparison.  While this is true most of the time, sometimes, if the stars are aligned, some memories are well worth revisiting.

Irwin & I returned to the country for one night last weekend, because although we knew we needed to be in the city Sunday, we just could not bear to miss a weekend of spring’s continued revelations.

Upon arrival, I was shocked and disappointed to find the addition the robins had added to the nest featured in last week’s post, The Best Nest, torn down and laying in shambles on the ground.  I was not sure if the original builders returned and reclaimed their nest or something catastrophic had happened since neither bird family appeared during our short visit.  The burning bush guests were still in place, but there were still no tenants in the roof of our front door porch and it remained beautifully repainted and nest-free for the first time since we own our house.

Nest remains

 

 

pieces on the ground

 

Still Vacant

 

While Irwin was thrilled with the prospect of clean front steps for the first time in ten years, I was struck with a bout of melancholy.   As silly as it may seem, I love having these guests every year because they are a reminder of life’s promise and renewal.  While I began to grapple with my sense of loss, I walked around the perimeter of the house, desperately seeking some new affirmation of life, when I noticed our budding lilacs.


 

lilacs in bloom

 

Lilacs are one of my favorite flowers.  Their scent takes me back to my childhood, when my grandmother, who truly had a green thumb, tended the small garden that surrounded our house.  While we had fruit trees and a grape vine along with her prized roses, my favorites were the enormous lilac bushes in front of our porch.

 As I stood there, feet firmly planted on our soil with my eyes closed, memories of my childhood flooded my mind.  They were so tangible and life affirming, that I found myself smiling. 

The “green thumb” gene was not one that I inherited from my grandmother, as evidenced by the number of plants that have died under my care, still my appreciation for all things green runs deep.  As the lilacs of my childhood signaled the beginning of spring along with the promise of summer, our lilacs in the country perpetuate that affirmation each year.  It is no coincidence that our lilac bushes usually reach full bloom around Mother’s Day, showering me with fragrant memories.

 

Summer's promise

 

We returned to the country yesterday to celebrate Mother’s Day with our children and as promised, the lilacs were in full bloom. As we sat around the table enjoying our first barbecue of the season and reminiscing, the fragrance of the lilacs wafting through the air reminded me to step back for a moment and drink in the new memories we were creating.

 

Full Bloom

 

And….as it that were not gift enough, to my surprise and delight, when I looked out the kitchen window this morning, I saw that the robin’s nest was rebuilt.  Still in true robin’s nest style with a multitude of branches and leaves hanging over the side, but seeming more finished and polished than the last incarnation.  I’m assuming this time they consulted with an interior designer!

Re-designed nest

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

Another Season

As we turned into our driveway and caught sight of the magnolia in bloom, I took a deep breath and let out a sigh; another season had arrived. While all of the seasons are breathtaking in the country, spring is by far my favorite.

Our Magnolia

We had planted the magnolia five springs ago in memory of Irwin's father who had passed away the year before. Magnolias were his favorite and this little fledgling has been a source of inspiration to our entire family. So to see it in bloom with daffodils at its side practically brought tears to our eyes.

Beautiful magnolia blossom

 

Daffodils

Irwin and I first became acquainted with our country home in the springtime ten years ago.  At the time, it was a decaying house and acreage.  Looking back, it is hard to believe that we were able to envision any existence in this place, yet ten years later we continue to marvel at how life affirming this plot of land on this mountain can be.

our mountain

As the house was in the process of a rebirth, so too was the surrounding land, which began to revive itself and offered up new surprises almost daily.  There were the apple trees that revealed themselves the first fall, the shock of lilacs the following spring, rosebushes that seemed to appear out of thin air several years later, and the countless other miracles of nature that we have been privileged to witness, including the appearance of our beloved Charlie, who too was a gift of our mountain.

Lilac in bloom 
 

our sweet willow

charlie, our greatest gift

When spring arrives on “our mountain”, as we have come to think of it, the simplicity of rebirth and renewal make almost anything seem possible.  As Irwin and I took a walk out into the woods, signs of spring’s resurgence were all around us and the profusion of new growth was awe-inspiring.

A walk in the woods

 

rebirth on the forest floor

 

 

Greenery abounds

We were greeted at breakfast Sunday morning by our first guests of the season, who were up bright and early working on their new home right in the elbow of the gutter outside our kitchen window.  Seeing those birds made me smile because they were confirmation of spring’s return and with it the proliferation of new life. I was duly impressed by their fortitude; they were not deterred by our removal of all the nests last fall in order to repaint the house.  They returned and began to build anew in the very same spot they had built their nest last year.   

 

our 1st guest

foundation is built

All of the creatures, both large and small have been busy preparing for springtime on our mountain. There is much activity, some of which is easily observed.  Other activity cannot necessarily be seen, but signs are all around.

the smallest creatures

 

Paw prints courtesy of our friends down under: raccoons

That is the miracle of another season.  No matter how severe the winter, no matter what happens on Wall Street, when spring arrives and the creatures of our mountain that share our house and land return, we know that literally, hope springs eternal.

Even the inanimate objects have embraced the season and have found ways to come to life.

 

mossy turtle 

And if the sights and sounds that surrounded us were not affirmation enough, what we stumbled upon on the path leading to the back of the house confirmed what we already knew: We are extremely lucky.

 

lucky penny

Whether we realize it or not, nature is our greatest collaborator each and everyday.  So while we should celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, 2010, we must cherish our Earth and it’s miraculous beauty every single day so that generations to come will be able to bask in the sheer joy of… another season.

 

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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