I’m Heading to the Beach!

In celebration of warm weather, sunshine and sand underfoot, I’m not going to be blogging as frequently for the next few months. Instead, look for a blog post around the first week of each month. I’ll still be talking about healthy living, beginning with the importance of joy in a healthy lifestyle in June, when we celebrate love, romance and weddings! All summer long, of course, we’ll continue to be Nantucket-based, so stay tuned for more on the elegant life of this beautiful island.

Several design installations will be completed over the summer, and in the fall, I’ll offer a sneak peek of my work, including before, during and after photos.

See you at the beach!

Earth Animal: Home to Natural Pet Care

This is me and my husband, Frank, with our three dogs, GG, Tuffy and Ellie. Thanks to Venture Photography, Westport CT, for the photograph!

My three beautiful Bichon Frises are my loving companions and dear friends, so I am fortunate to live close to an amazing retail store that caters to the health and wellbeing of companion animals: Earth Animal, in Westport, Connecticut.

In business for thirty years, this groundbreaking concept is the brainchild of Dr. Robert Goldstein, V.M.D., a holistic veterinarian, and his wife, Susan. Authors of the book The Goldstein’s Wellness & Longevity Program, the Goldsteins have made natural care for dogs and cats their lifelong mission. Dr. Bob promotes abundant health in animals through a carefully considered program of healing and nutrition that ensures a long and healthy life for animal companions. Sue operated the retail store for many years; today, their daughter Merritt manages the store, its mail order division and their website, www.earthanimal.com.

Earth Animal opened in 1979, and was the first true health food store for animals in America at that time. Sue began the store with a concept, designed the interior, then went searching for organic products to fill it, only to find there weren’t any! She found herself making custom flea collars the old fashioned way: by hand rolling the collars in herbs to repel parasitic pests, she would dip the collars in wax, one by one, serving her grateful customers who were among the first in the nation to be aware of the dangers of pesticide and nerve gas exposure.

The basic concept behind Earth Animals is loving, gentle care of our guardian animals, based on a proper diet of whole foods made with vitamins and minerals, food supplements to boost the immune system, and herbs and brewer’s yeast to fight fleas and ticks.

One of their most popular products is an herbal powder formulated for both cats and dogs. Brewer’s yeast and herbs used as a food supplement work to strengthen the blood and immune system, creating a natural, powerful barrier against disease and parasites. Although topical chemical products often produce multiple side effects, such as seizures, vomiting and damaged kidneys, Earth Animal’s natural products are effective and 100% side effect free.

Whether visiting the Earth Animal store or buying products available nationwide through their website, www.earthanimal.com, there is an awareness that every dog and cat has unique nutritional and emotional needs. Sue describes the staff at Earth Animals as healers, not cashiers. An affiliated service offered through Dr. Bob’s office, the Healing Center for Animals Natural Pharmacy, offers nationwide phone consultations with conventional as well as holistic veterinarians, teaching them how to use nutrition as a healing modality. As cancer has become endemic among companion animals today, many of the consults focus on how to support an animal through a regimen of a whole food diet, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, herbs and homeopathic supplements working in conjunction with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, depending upon the family’s choice.

The store and website offer organic and premium foods, including those specifically formulated by Dr. Bob, such as Blue Buffalo. Blue Buffalo is named for company owners’ Bill and Jackie Bishop’s large breed Airedale, Blue. After Blue had a bout with cancer, the Bishops found that veterinarians are concerned about the increases in environmental toxins and their effects on animals. They consulted with Dr. Bob and decided to make a food with ingredients to nourish dogs and cats, along with ones that are scientifically shown to provide an extra level of protection against environmental toxins.

Blue Buffalo food is made with real chicken, lamb or fish, plenty of whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruit. The secret ingredient? LifeSource Bits, a precise blend of nutrients and antioxidants that are cold-formed for greater potency. (You can read more about Blue Buffalo at www.bluebuffalo.com.)

Cold-formed, living nutrients are also the concept behind Earth Animal’s Daily Health Nugget, a vitamin/mineral supplement created with living, uncooked, nutrients. The store and website have chewies and treats made from free-range, hormone free beef and chicken, and a bakery section filled with adorable cookies made from vegetables such as pumpkin and sweet potatoes.

Earth Animal also has a line of shampoo called Clean Dog, a wild bird department for feeding and attracting avian friends to your garden, and much, much more! I invite you to visit their website, and if you are lucky enough to live close enough for a store visit, to stop by and say hello to Merritt, Chris, John, Betsy and Jamie, the resident animal healers who are there to help you.

Non-Toxic Flea and Tick Control

“As little as ten years ago, despite an average of a billion dollars a year spent on flea remedies in this country, misery reigned—animals were suffering, fleas were thriving, homes reeked of toxic pesticides, and the liver, kidneys, lungs and nervous systems of every exposed animal (not to mention his or her human family members) struggled to survive under the weight of those toxins. Nobody benefited but the chemical companies and, frankly, the fleas, which were only too happy to engage in a war they were preprogrammed to win.”
(From The Goldstein’s Wellness & Longevity Program: Natural Care for Dogs and Cats)

Happily, things have changed and the description above of the war on fleas no longer has to be played out in your home. There are multiple options that are healthier for you, your pet and your family. Here are a few of my favorites:

Start with your lawn and garden.

Chris Baliko, owner of Growing Solutions in Ridgefield, Connecticut (www.growso.com), offers his clients a five step program for tick control in their yards, all designed to minimize exposure to pesticides and harmful chemicals.

Step One: Reduce the tick habitat naturally. Ticks like moist and shady areas, so letting in the sun is key to success. If there are many trees, it’s possible to thin their crowns to let more sunlight reach the ground. Clearing away leaf debris (a favorite tick home) is important, as is cleaning up along stone walls and keeping them free of branches, weeds and other plant debris.

Step Two: Establish a Tick Border. A Tick Border is a three to four foot wide woodchip border that is established between the woody edges of your property and your lawn. Ticks are loath to cross the sunny, plant free zone.

Step Three: Put up deer fencing to keep “tick buses” (aka deer) from entering your property. A single deer can be host to more than 200 ticks, so by removing their hosts, you reduce the number of ticks.

Step Four: Move children’s play equipment out of the shade and into the sun. Don’t forget the kids’ sunscreen!

Step Five: Use an organic tick spray only in the areas where ticks are likely to live. Growing Solutions uses two different kinds of tick products, both plant based and created from essential oils. One is based on oil from the chrysanthemum plant, and the other is a blend of essential oils from peppermint, wintergreen and rosemary plants: it works against ticks, and smells wonderful! All of their products are approved by the Organic Material Review Institute (OMRI) for health and safety. A three time yearly program, applied in spring, summer and fall, has proven very effective in maintaining tick-free surroundings.

Chris said, “As landscapers, we’re responsible for what we do. We’re supposed to be taking care of the earth, and not using so many chemicals to do it. We’ve gotten complacent with chemicals because they’re so easy to use.”

He continued, “It’s important to remember that an organic pesticide is still a pesticide. It kills things. There is some toxicity to it.” That’s why Growing Solutions only uses organic sprays, only when necessary, and only in limited areas. Chris and his partner Paul began their organic approach years ago after recognizing the dangers of synthetic products, and taking courses from the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA). Once they had a safer method to use, they began converting their landscape customers, sharing the health wherever they could.

Use a Natural Flea and Tick Control Method on Your Companion Animals

Earth Animal offers a three step process for natural flea and tick control. One of my favorite retail stores, there’s more information about them here.

Step One: Earth Animal products are designed to boost your animal’s own flea-fighting immune strength with a dietary program of basic nutrients, supplements, and “superfoods” to fight pests from the inside out. When the immune system of the target victim is strong, pests find him to be less appetizing, and they move on to tastier prey. Earth Animal’s program starts with feeding a natural, nutrient dense food, then supplementing each meal with a powder made of brewer’s yeast and herbs, which changes the odor and chemistry of the animal’s blood.

Step Two: During peak flea and tick season, add No More Tick or No More Flea drops everyday to your dog or cat’s water, mouth or food.

Step Three: Spray Earth Animal’s Organic Bug Spray on your dog’s belly and paws, and mist the exterior skin and coat daily during spring, summer or fall, or when you travel into tick infested areas. It’s safe and effective for humans, too!

Investigate Other Natural Options

• Another safe, environmentally friendly product I use is Damminix Tick Tubes.  Since Lyme Disease begins with mice, not deer, Tick Tubes rely on the natural nesting instincts of mice to fight the battle. Placed on your property in areas where mice frolic, the biodegradable, cardboard tubes are filled with permethrin treated cotton balls. Mice collect the cotton to build nests in their burrows. Young ticks feeding on the mice are killed by the mild insecticide before they can spread Lyme Disease to you and your family. It is important to use this only on the perimeter of your property, in safe places that are not accessible to pets or children. Even mild insecticides are poisons, and must be used carefully and responsibly.

Buck Mountain Parasite Dust, available only through veterinarians and pet stores, can be used to rid animals, gardens and buildings of flies, fleas, ticks, mites, ants and more. Its active insecticide is a chemical derived from the Neem tree, which is both a repellant and provides disinfectant and healing properties. You can sprinkle the dust on your pet’s back from head to tail, and brush against the hair to bring the dust into contact with the skin. A teaspoon of the dust can also be placed on a window sill to eliminate fleas, flies and other bugs in your home. It is safe for use in your garden as well.

Whatever methods you choose, remember that the toxic chemical industry is alive and well due to consumers not knowing there are other, healthier choices. As more people choose nonchemical alternatives, the health of our animal companions, our homes, our gardens and our families will continue to flourish for years to come.

Help spread the word!

Gardening without Chemicals

Part of having a home is enjoying the lawn and garden that surrounds it. It’s possible to have a beautiful green lawn surrounded by a garden that’s teeming with life: bees lazily buzzing from flower to flower, birds flitting through trees brimming with nests and berries, and children and pets playing in the soft grass. You can’t create a sanctuary like that, though, and then poison it. I often say that a healthy home is the ultimate luxury. Nothing is more important than protecting our health, and the health of our loved ones, from chemicals and toxic by-products in our homes. Your lawn and garden is in integral part of your home, too, and deserves the same loving care to keep it free of chemical contamination.

Lawn Chemicals are Poisonous

Lawn and garden chemicals are poisons to things that live, including humans and pets. They pollute our water, harm wildlife, and interrupt the delicate balance of our eco-system. If you’re not part of the suburban quest for the perfect lawn, then chances are your neighbors are. Killing weeds and encouraging rapid growth of thick green grass may seem the natural thing to do, but nothing could be further from nature. 100 million pounds of lawn care chemicals are used by homeowners in their lawns and gardens every year. These include chemicals that kill weeds, insects and a variety of plant diseases. A study from the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) found pesticides in 100% of the people who had both blood and urine tested. The average person carried 12 of 23 pesticides tested. Many of these chemicals are linked to cancer, birth defects, and liver or kidney damage. There is a way to have a green and healthy lawn and garden without resorting to chemicals, though. Here’s how:

 

Five Tips for a Healthy Lawn

  • Healthy soil promotes healthy plants. Good soil is “alive,” teeming with bacteria and organic content that is naturally resistant to pests and disease. You can boost your soil’s health by spreading organic compost or alfa meal.
  • Corn gluten is increasingly used as a high-nitrogen, organic fertilizer. Organic fertilizers feed your lawn slowly; quick release chemical fertilizers encourage rapid growth that weakens the grass, promotes disease and leaches into nearby surface waters.
  • Tolerate a few weeds. You can dig them out by hand if they bother you, or you can adopt the philosophy of “live and let live.” A few weeds in the garden can also provide a home for beneficial insects, which keep the overall landscape in good health.
  • De-thatch and aerate your soil by raking and aerating compacted lawns. Compaction invites weeds. By removing plugs of soil, air, water and nutrients can reach the roots of your grass. When your lawn is healthy again, birds and worms will continue to aerate it for you!
  • For the first and last mowing, mow down to 2 inches, which prevents fungus growth. For the rest of the year, keep your grass higher, at 3 inches, to shade out weeds and foster deep roots. Short grass promotes weeds, shallow roots and thatch.

Tips for a Healthy Garden

  • Investigate companion plants to discourage pests: lavender and garlic make good bedfellows for roses; nasturtiums and marigolds are detested by green and black flies.
  • Just like in your lawn, add organic material to your garden soil to make it healthier, and less likely to be a host to disease. Spread as much as three inches of new organic matter to the top of your soil, then work it in to a depth of twelve inches. You’ll be amazed how much healthier your plants will be.
  • Spread mulch (chopped leaves, shredded bark, compost) to smother weeds and keep soil moist.
  • Put up birdhouses and birdfeeders to encourage nature’s pest patrol to help with insect problems.
  • Carefully choose plants that are suited to your year round temperatures, rainfall and amount of sun required. No matter where you live, you will have hundreds to choose from. Look for disease resistant varieties of ornamental trees and roses, and attract beneficial insects by planting a mix of trees, shrubs, flowers and herbs. A diverse biosphere in the garden best mimics nature, and makes a stable ecosystem. Remember that even chemicals and pesticides labeled organic can cause damage to your delicate ecosystem if overused, so apply with care and please be sparing in their use!

A wonderful guide to organic gardening is Taylor’s Weekend Gardening Guide to Safe and Easy Lawn Care and Taylor’s Weekend Gardening Guide to Organic Pest and Disease Control, available through Amazon. Keep both your outdoors and your indoors healthy!

Summertime on Nantucket

There’s always something happening on Nantucket in the summer.  Here are two of my favorite events on the island.  Come join me!

Nantucket Summer Kitchens Tour:  Thursday, July 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sponsored by the Nantucket Preservation Trust, the tour features historic homes and kitchens in the Milk Street neighborhood in Nantucket. This year, open houses are on Milk, New Dollar and New Mill Streets.  You can get historical facts and stories at each home, and local guest chefs are there to provide delicious snacks and recipes.

The biggest Kitchen Marketplace ever has a variety of vendors with specialty house and kitchen items.   Look for cookbook signings with Lulu Powers, Fran Karttunen and more.

The Nantucket Preservation Trust is an organization concerned with preserving Nantucket’s unique historical architecture, and protecting it for future generations to enjoy.  They provide programs that explore the history of the island’s buildings, and increase appreciation of the importance and fragility of historic sites.

There is no other organization so devoted to preservation of Nantucket’s unique historic resources.  The Trust works to preserve irreplaceable architectural qualities that led to Nantucket’s designation as a National Historic Landmark.

The August Fete is their second summer fundraiser, held the evening of August 11, from 6 to 9 p.m. This year’s Fete will feature a tour of private homes in the Liberty and Winter Street neighborhood, some of which have never before been open to the public

Nantucket Historical Association August Antiques Show:  August 5-7

This is a real highlight of the summer season, and one I never miss!  A major fundraiser for the Nantucket Historical Association, the antiques show presents a wonderful week of parties, lectures and activities.  The show is one of the most highly regarded antiques shows on the east coast.

This year, a Friends of the NHA Lecture will be held on August 2nd at 6 p.m. at the Nantucket Whaling Museum. Michael K. Brown, Curator of the Bayou Bend Collections Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, will speak.

The Antiques Show Preview Party takes place August 4 from 6 to 9 p.m., at Bartlett’s Farm.

The Antiques Show is Friday through Sunday, August 5 to 7, at Bartlett’s Farm, 33 Bartlett Farm Road.

Don’t miss this wonderful event.  Learn how to support the Nantucket Historical Association at www.nha.org.

On the West Coast? Stop by tACKo!

tACKo, a counter-service taqueria owned by my stepson, Nick Fasanella, will open soon in San Francisco in the Marina at 3115 Fillmore Street. Nick is the owner or former owner of a few of the city’s favorite eateries, including Nick’s Crispy Taco’s and the Taco Shop at Underdogs. tACKo, named to reference Nantucket Island’s airport abbreviation, ACK, will feature a New England theme.

I’m proud to have designed his new décor, with a quintessential Nantucket gray exterior, complete with window boxes and white trim. There’s a nautical theme inside the restaurant, which reflects his passion for sailing and life on a houseboat in Sausalito. Nick plans to open his second tACKo branch on Nantucket in the summer of 2012, and after that, to expand across the East Coast.

Chef Nick looks for the best fresh and organic ingredients when preparing his signature dishes. Stop by and enjoy one of his lobster tortas (photo and recipe farther down), and tell Nick we said hello!

For a review and a photo of the restaurant interior, click here:

Nick and Trudy

On the East Coast? Stop by Pumpkin Pond Farm!

A certified organic 9.5 acre farm and nursery located on Nantucket, Pumpkin Pond Farm offers delicious vegetables and greens, along with trees, shrubs, perennials and garden supplies. Their dedication to sustainable agriculture and good soil science is an integral part of the farm’s approach to producing pure, fresh products.

Salad lovers will soon find the best of Spring, including lettuce, arugula, and wheatgrass, and that’s just the beginning of their growing season.

Owner Marty McGowan and his wife, Holly, have a longstanding friendship with my stepson, Nick Fasanella. Marty likes to tell the story of the day Chef Nick walked through the garden and was delighted to find Mexican tarragon growing there. It became the inspiration for a fabulous Lobster Torta that he created and cooked at the farm. We’re happy to share the recipe from the Pumpkin Pond Farm website:

Lobster Torta
Serves 4

1 bunch of Mexican tarragon
Fresh cilantro
3 Jalapenos thinly sliced
2 Ripe avocados
3 Limes
4 organic Garlic cloves
4 Chili Arbor
8 oz Nantucket butter, melted
4 1.25lb Lobsters steamed & cleaned
2 cups of Black Beans
4 Bolillo or Torpedo Rolls lightly toasted and buttered
Sea Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper to taste

Cook 1 cup of dried black beans with 3 cups of water and garlic cloves. Half way through cooking add salt and pepper to taste. When the beans are tender in about an hour, let them cool slightly then blend them smoothly with just enough of their broth. Return the puree to the pan to cook out some of the moisture, check for seasoning and keep warm. Melt the butter on low heat and steep in the whole tarragon and chiles for 15 minutes, remove pepper and tarragon to reheat the lobster. Mash avocado with salt and the juice of half a lime. Toast the bread cut side down brushed with some of the butter. Spread the bottom bun with black beans and top with avocado. Divide the warmed lobster evenly and top with cilantro and jalapenos. Garnish with cilantro and lime wedges and serve with ZD Chardonnay.

Enjoy!

Due to their close friendship, Marty and Nick look forward to more collaboration in the future. We’ll keep you posted!

Nantucket Wine Festival May 18-22

The 15th annual Nantucket Wine Festival kicks off on May 18th, when over 165 wineries converge upon Nantucket for one of the nation’s most celebrated wine and food events.

Thursday, May 19th at 6:00 p.m. is the kickoff with the Nantucket Wine Festival Harbor Gala, held at the charming White Elephant Hotel, an island landmark since the 1920’s. The Nantucket Yacht Club is home to the Grand Tastings during the weekend of May 21ST and 22nd, with an exceptional collection of wineries, chefs and food purveyors.

There are wine and food seminars, a luncheon symposium with distinguished winemakers, followed by a four-course luncheon of superb cuisine, and on Saturday, May 21st, a spectacular dinner and auction of rare wines at the White Elephant. This is an event not to be missed by any serious fan of food and wine—and isn’t that all of us?

Please join me!

For more information, visit www.nantucketwinefestival.com