Spring Beauty

 

We celebrate our New Year on January 1st, but Spring has been a symbol of new beginnings, and for some cultures, the new year, since ancient times. Our ancestors believed that there was a connection between the seasons, the moon and stars, and the magic of new life.

 

 

It’s easy for us to miss the change of seasons when we are busy commuting, working, and living indoors, unless we stop and pay attention. As an interior designer, I’ve always been inspired by the change of seasons, with new colors, fragrances, and the way the sunlight changes. Lately I’ve been inspired by the beauty of spring as I experienced it as a child.

 

 

On their winter trips to visit my grandparents in South Carolina, my mom and dad used to bring me back boxes full of camellia blossoms packed in soft green foliage to keep them fresh on the drive back to Connecticut. My grandmother had two camellia shrubs on the corners of her front porch. I loved the fragrance. They overlooked the Koi pond where the fish were dormant for the winter. That was always magic to me as a child–such a mystery when they came “alive” again in the spring!

 

 

One of my favorite places to experience spring is Middleton Plantation just outside of Charleston. Henry Middleton began the garden design in 1741, wanting to recreate the grand classic style popular in Europe at the time. The camellias bloom early there–red, pink, variegated–large shrubs bloom in beautiful walled gardens that even in winter hold the promise of what’s to come.

 

 

Grazing Sheep at Middleton Place – SC

 

I loved walking those paths and imagining the history of the antique house there, and the grand esplanade down to the river where the boats came in with supplies. There’s a little chapel there, too, and it’s a repository of Civil War history.

 

 

If you feel like taking a short road trip from New England, I recommend the gardens at Winterthur in Wilmington, Delaware. Henry Francis du Pont’s museum there houses the finest American furniture and collections in the world–a lovely source of design inspiration!

 

 

Another beautiful spring trip to take is to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. The legacy of Pierre du Pont, a relative of Henry Francis du Pont, the Gardens exist today to inspire people through garden design, horticulture, education, and the arts. They are a living expression of all that Mr. du Pont found inspiring, meaningful, and beautiful.

 

The Pierce’s Woods Love Temple, a Pergola at Longwood Gardens

 

This is a wonderful time of year not only to enjoy the outdoors, but to use that inspiration to re-imagine your home! Think of using light, bright colors, bringing in fresh flowers from the garden, and refreshing the air in your house by opening the windows while spring cleaning.

 

 

No detail is too small to proclaim spring! The curtain tieback below is made from opalescent 1880s Sandwich milk glass in the shape of a flower.

 

 

Colorful artwork paired with bouquets of fresh flowers awaken all your senses.

 

 

Try changing your bed linens for a lighter weight and brighter look.

 

 

Floral prints remind us of the flowers outside our doors. This is a close up of a custom rug I designed for a Nantucket home.

 

 

A pattern doesn’t have to be floral to be engaging. Blue and white always sparkles, as in this beautiful Chinoiserie wallpaper.

 

 

Inspiration is everywhere! Take a walk outside and look around. Happy Spring!

 

 

 

 

East Coast Home + Design Article

We love when our projects appear in magazines, where we can share the beautiful photography and background on our design choices with all of you! This month, East Coast Home + Design Magazine featured one of my favorite houses on Nantucket: the Pavilion-style home by famous architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen. Open, airy, and light-filled, our task was to revitalize the interiors with gently green principles. Editor Shelley McCormick and writer Deborah Brannon did a wonderful job. I hope you enjoy it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gift of a Blessing Bag

Young homeless man holding cardboard with painted house.

There’s a movement in the world toward helping the homeless in a very practical way. Many of us know the uncomfortable feeling of encountering a homeless person and wanting to help, but often, we aren’t sure how. Giving money is an option, although that’s discouraged by some mental health professionals and addiction counselors. Walking by and ignoring their plight doesn’t feel right.

 

Plastic transparent zipper bag isolated on white background

 

Someone along the way created a solution that I can embrace: the Blessing Bag. The idea is to take a extra large ziplock bag and fill it with essentials, then keep it in your car in the event that you encounter someone in need. It’s such a simple idea.

 

Toothbrushes in the drinking glass next to body lotion and neseser on the wet bench, outdoor shot, concept of travel

 

Items that you might put inside are basic tolietries: toothbrush, toothpaste, shavers and shaving cream, soap, shampoo, lotion, sunscreen, and deodorant.

 

Woolen clothes for woman on old rustic wooden background, womanly accessories, gloves cap shawl sweater, warm clothing for autumn or winter

 

Other welcome items are gloves, hats, scarves, and socks–maybe a few pair–always top of the list of requested clothing in charity drives! (Imagine having wet feet and not having warm, dry socks to change into.) You may also consider tampons and sanitary pads for women, diapers for babies, cleaning wipes, and even condoms.

 

Granola bar with dried fruit and nuts on white background

 

Adding small food items such as crackers, peanut butter, fruit, nuts and other non-perishables will be helpful. Some people add some cash for bus fares or to pay for necessities they haven’t covered.

 

New York, USA - May 16, 2013: homeless man sleeping with dog on sidewalk on 8th Ave and 42th Street, Manhattan, NY.

 

Since some street people have pets, a small bag of dog food or treats might be appreciated, too. You can donate to organizations that help, for example, the National Coalition for the Homeless. But this is one way to help the person in need before you, especially at Christmas.

 

Sleeping on the streets at Christmas time

 

“It is only with true love and compassion that we can begin to mend what is broken in this world.” –Steve Maraboli

More than Skin Deep

assorted personal hygiene products on white background

There’s great news from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in their mission to help consumers make healthy choices! From mascara to shampoo to toothpaste, more than 400 products will now carry the EWG VERIFIED mark. When you see it on a product, you’ll know that that item meets the EWG’s strict standards for health. Any item with the EWG VERIFIED mark has submitted a list of ingredients which EWG has tested for health hazards.

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Unfortunately, too many personal care products contain harmful or dangerous chemicals. The skin is the body’s largest organ, and anything placed on the skin is absorbed into the bloodstream, sometimes within seconds. According to a study by the EWG, most people use nine different products daily. These include shampoo, hair conditioner, soap, deodorant, body lotion, sunscreen, lip balm, make up and shaving products. Many of us feel safe, believing that product safety has been verified by the government. In fact, no pre-testing or health studies are required.

Hands holdings liquid lipsticks for the production

Personal care items are manufactured with 10,500 chemical ingredients, some of which are known or suspected carcinogens, or are known to disrupt the endocrine system. A listing called Skin Deep has long been available on the EWG website, representing the EWG’s attempt to rate products for safety.

Lavender moisturizer on bamboo with purple lavender flowers in the background. Lavandula anugustifolia

The EWG VERIFIED mark takes this work one step farther, allowing consumers to see on any product whether it has been verified by the EWG as having gone above and beyond the green standards set by the industry. That’s good news for all of us.

 

A Healing Oasis Right in Our Midst

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The art of self-care and healing is something we should all learn from an early age, but unfortunately, too many of us don’t. That’s why places like the  Arogya Healing Holistic Center in Westport, Connecticut, can be an important part of our wellness plan. “It’s all nature,” Wei Bertram, Arogya’s founder, says, looking around her at the serene space she created. “Healing is about being in nature. It isn’t normal to sit in front of a computer all day, and drive through traffic to commute. Our brain is not made that way. Arogya is about living in harmony with nature, and bringing body, mind, and spirit into a new awareness.”

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“People get many things done in a day, and then there’s more to do,” she added. “I work on myself. I take care of myself. No one will take care of you other than yourself, but we have to be taught. More than what we say, people walk into Arogya and want this feeling in their lives.”

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Wei explains that she has always been fascinated by her traditional Chinese heritage, and the mystique of Chinese medicine. By founding Arogya in 2000, her intention was to bring the healing traditions of the east into our contemporary lifestyles, which she sees as being in desperate need for true balance and well-being.

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As a longtime believer in holistic lifestyle practices, I was delighted to find Arogya so close to home. It’s easy to forget self-care until our bodies are in a chronic state of dis-ease, but as I have learned and as Wei believes, the best time to support our health is before we lose it. Luckily for those of us in Connecticut or the greater New York area, Arogya is a healing resource right in our midst!

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Arogya means “whole health” in Sanskrit. In addition to integrative Chinese medicine, yoga and massage therapy, the center also offers a wide selection of organic teas, all natural skincare products and personalized herbal remedies. The beautiful store also offers natural candles, essential oils and artisan perfumes created by Wei.

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If you aren’t close enough to experience the beauty of a treatment at Arogya spa, be sure to check out their blog, which has dozens of articles on self-care and holistic healing. Here are five ideas from Wei and Arogya to help you be the best caretaker for yourself:

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1.The first step is to make a choice: Either you stay on the path of conventional, emergency-based medicine, waiting for serious symptoms to arise, or you make every day about your health and well-being, knowing every moment is an opportunity for wellness and wholeness.

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2. Making your life a wellness journey not only means feeding yourself nourishing foods, and taking care of your body, it means transforming every aspect of your life so you can truly be your most radiant, present, loving, and grounded self.

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3. Chinese medicine says, “It takes more than one night to freeze a pond.” Likewise, the accumulation of decades of poor nutrition, stress, negative feelings, etc. can result in poor health. If you want to thaw the pond, it will take more than one day or one treatment to magically transform what ails you. Though the road may be long, every step you take towards healing yourself ripples out into your life and relationships.

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4. In Taoist philosophy there is a saying: “It’s best to eat healthy food. And if you already do that, you still need to exercise too. And if you already do both of those, best of all is to meditate to nourish your heart, the core of your being.” With meditation, we can see the conditioning that keeps us falling into the same traps again and again. From a place of awareness, it’s easier to make better choices.

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5. Though stress is a real and valid experience, it need not run your life. Read Arogya’s blog post, Combating Modern Day Stress. From first recognizing where your stress is coming from to to getting rid of all kinds of clutter, including toxic relationships, to finding time for your own creative pursuits, Wei’s gentle guidance can help you transform your life.

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One of Wei’s final de-stressing tips is “find time to be in nature.” Understanding the limits of our own nature, and how we are part of the amazing world around us, is a wonderful way to live a deeper, richer life. As Ghandi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

One tree in field

And you must also be the change you wish to see in yourself.

Watch Wei discuss the importance of tea here.

 

 

 

Our Planet’s Blue Heart

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“Why is it that scuba divers and surfers are some of the strongest advocates of ocean conservation?  Because they’ve spent time in and around the ocean, and they’ve personally seen the beauty, the fragility, and even the degradation of our planet’s blue heart.” –Sylvia Earle, American Marine Biologist

As spring turns to summer, many of us will travel to our island homes, or vacation destinations on the ocean, in diverse locations all over the world. The brilliant blue sea and its whispering waves speaks to something elemental in all of us, whether it is our playground for boating, fishing, scuba diving and surfing, or if we simply don a sunhat and relax under an umbrella with a tropical drink and a book.

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Although our oceans are our world’s largest natural resource, the human impact has been undeniable. From overfishing to manmade pollution, from coastal development to chemical runoff, scientists have identified many areas of decline. We must all be stewards of the water, just as we are of the land, to protect.our wild and healthy oceans. Here are some current concerns about ocean health, along with ideas about what we can do to help.

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1. Problem: A massive volume of plastic garbage now litters every ocean on the planet, according to the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC):. Hundreds of species of marine life, including seabirds, whales, and sea turtles ingest or get entangled in plastic, as well as netting, fishing lines, and other debris. Fishing trawlers with huge drift nets can trap species other than the target fish, and lose the nets or cut them lose (ghost nets) where they spell death for any marine animals caught in them and unable to free themselves.

Solution: Public support for waste management measures, creating incentives for industry to use less plastic packaging, reduce single-use plastics, and encourage more recycling. On trips to the beach, carry out what you carry in. Retrieve all fishing line, lures, and gear. Because it will never biodegrade, nylon lines and nets will continue catching and killing turtles, dolphins, manatees, pelicans, and even human divers and swimmers forever. The European Union bans drift nets, as do the waters from Monterey, California to the Oregon Coast for part of the year, along with some other locations.

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2. Problem: The ocean is downstream of everything: Chemical runoff from land, including pesticides and fertilizers from farms, lawns, streets. and construction sites is a major cause of ocean pollution. Silt, nitrogen, and phosphorous can create “dead zones” in the sea where nothing can live, robbing waters of light and oxygen.

Solution: Use fewer chemicals and fertilizers. If you live on the water, plant a buffer zone of trees, shrubs, and grasses to filter runoff and provide shelter for shorebirds and other mammals. Decrease your water use at home, so you can decrease the amount of water that must be treated with chemicals before entering the ocean. Sweep your walks and driveway rather than hosing them off, as water transports chemicals to the nearest storm drain or waterway.

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3. Problem: Noise pollution threatens marine life: Loud noises created by sonar testing by the Navy have been linked to deaths of dolphins due to massive internal hemorrhaging. Noises from boats can interfere with whales trying to hunt for food or communicate with each other, blocking their hauntingly beautiful songs.  A particular problem is the noise created by large tankers cruising the oceans, and underwater exploration for oil. To the fish and other marine life, it can sound like the loudest day in New York City with sirens, horns, and traffic.

Solution: Now that we’ve recognized the problem, we must take all necessary steps to mitigate the noise we create. Marine mammal protection laws must be enacted in coastal nations around the world. Major shipping routes should be moved away from important marine mammal habitats. Ships can be designed so that the engine is isolated from the hull in order to reduce noise. Regular ship maintenance can reduce noise considerably.

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4. Problem: Additional issues impacting our oceans include oil spills, habitat destruction, and human sewage spilling into waterways. Marine scientists measure yearly changes in marine animal populations related to all of the problems outlined here, plus others.

Solution: Technology has given us the ability to monitor even small changes, and share information rapidly. Reading information from a variety of experts is important, as nature is highly complex and issues change with new developments. There are a number of wonderful organizations doing very important work to heal our oceans and protect them for the next generations.

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A Connecticut-based organization that’s doing a wonderful job is SoundWaters. It was founded in 1989 to protect Long Island Sound, a delicate estuary within 50 miles of 25 million people. Humans–and their activities which pose a threat to the health of the Sound–prompted Len Miller to found an organization to educate people both about the Sound’s wonders and the dangers it faces.

soundwaters schooner

SoundWaters began with a schooner that is a teaching vessel, a floating classroom where students –both children and adults–learn from a hands-on curriculum. Lectures and workshops are presented by ecologists, musicians, artists, and historians, in addition to land-based programs, a summer camp, community gardens and nature programs for older adults.

soundwaters terrapins

“Try to consider having a healthy, viable community with unhealthy air and polluted waters. We cannot, and the connection of a healthy environment to a healthy community, and, in fact, to healthy people, will be one of the many premises we will try to teach at the SoundWaters Community Center,” said Mr. Miller, when the center opened. Today, their schooner, SoundWaters, conducts 250 experiential sails each season for school and community groups throughout the region.

soundwaters schooner two

You can donate to SoundWaters here, or find out how to take an afternoon schooner cruise with your family and friends.

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Here are some other organizations working to protect our oceans that you might consider supporting:

Natural Resource Defense Council: The NRDC works to safeguard the air, the water, and the wild, and the natural systems on which all life depends.

National Geographic Society’s Pristine Seas Project: The Pristine Seas Project’s goal is to convince governments to protect more than 2 million square kilometers of ocean, and has financed ten scientific expeditions to remote areas of ocean around the world.

Oceanic Society: The Oceanic Society works to improve ocean health by addressing the root cause of its decline: human behavior.

See Turtles: A project of the Oceanic Society, See Turtles protects sea turtles through education, travel, conservation efforts, and Billion Baby Turtles, working to get turtle hatchlings safely to the sea.

Ocean Conservancy: Science-based solutions to tackle the biggest threats to our oceans.

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With all of our concerns about the health of the ocean, it’s good to remember that there are so many people doing so much good work to protect our beautiful blue waters. One of the best ways to encourage conservation is to gently love our waterways with your family and friends, so boat, swim, fish, or dive to heart’s content, and have a wonderful summer!

Mentoring Young Designers

scsu dist alumni-0022 (2)

Robert Frost once said, “I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” As an adjunct professor at Fairfield University, teaching Sustainable Design and seminars on The Business of Design to young design students, I’ve long been aware that one of my greatest joys  is passing along what I have learned. Fostering new students in the Interior Design profession is one way I can give back to the industry that has given so much to me. A side benefit is that I learn so much from my students, and their fresh, enthusiastic approach to the art of interior design.

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Here I am, on left, with DonnaJean Fredeen, on right, Dean Emeritus of Southern Connecticut State University’s School of Arts and Sciences

Unfortunately, too many young people today find themselves in mentoring relationships that are little more than glorified Gal Friday positions, where they’re filling coffee cups, making copies, and doing busy work. By contrast, I have always been committed to immersing my mentees into the life of the interior design world, giving them real work to do, having them shadow me and other designers in my firm, and taking them along on trips to the D & D Building and other design-related events.

d and d building

Part of fostering future interior design professionals for me has included conducting portfolio reviews and mentoring sessions at the Shintaro Akatsu School of Design at the University of Bridgeport. My great pleasure this spring is welcoming Sarah Dezelin to my office as my mentee from Southern Connecticut State University, my alma mater.

Sarah Dezelin

 

Sarah and I already have a lot in common! She’s interested in art and the environment, and I can’t wait to share my world with her. Another quote I love is “In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.” Looks like we’ll be a perfect match!

…to be continued~

A Window on Your World

edwardian home

 

Many of us live in the homes we do because of our first glimpse of the house as we came up the drive. Perhaps it was the sound of the sea and the smell of salt water that led us there, and the drive through the dunes romanced us all the way. The creamy yellow daffodils bobbing along the borders, or the dignified old Sugar Maple spreading its arms across the lawn were like love letters from the property, delivered straight to our hearts.

 

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When the front door opens, if the house isn’t just right, well, that can all be fixed. Take down a wall here, widen a doorway there, refinish wood floors, replace sagging windows, and you’ve made it your own, which is one of the goals of interior design, and a very important one. As Billy Baldwin said, “Nothing is interesting unless it is personal.”

 

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No matter how beautiful the interiors are, however, I always feel that the room is blessed when there is a glorious view in sight. Particularly for a home on the water, whether its on the ocean, a river, or a lake, you’re aware of the view. My intent in a home on the waterfront is never to obscure the home’s setting.

 

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In this house, the center hall leads you right to the ocean. If you keep going, as the crow flies, the next stop is Portugal.

 

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Another signature of my design work is my love of window seats. They’re perfect for sitting in the sunlight with a cup of tea on a winter morning to watch the snow fall, or to catch the sea breezes as the day falls to dusk.

 

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They also are functional, as they provide extra seating for guests..

 

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…and in a bedroom, can be designed with drawers for storage underneath.

 

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Whether your view is a sandy beach, an English garden, or your children splashing in the pool, a seat by the window is the perfect spot to take a closer look at your world.

 

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Winter White

Cozy winter still life: mug of hot tea and warm woolen knitting on vintage windowsill against snow landscape from outside.

 

There are few colors that capture my imagination like white in the winter. The wind blows fresh snow into our gardens, and white frost greets us on our windows in the morning. The world slows down.

 

snowy day

In January, the color white is a promise of simplicity. I am enchanted.

 

snowy wheat

 

Even without a snowfall, white clouds in a winter sky have a stunning clarity.

 

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The purity of white, its neutrality and its ability to blend with any other color makes it perfect in design, and art, and architecture. A white house, for instance:

 

white house

 

A white bedroom is so very peaceful.

 

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I have always said that the most beautiful rooms are white plus one other color. That combination creates instant serenity, a feeling of airiness and openness that no other color can offer.

 

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Benjamin Moore chose their Simply White (OC-117) as their color of the year for 2016.

 

If you use white plus one color, a great tip is to choose one fabulous fabric, then repeat, repeat, repeat! Less is often more. The eye needs a place to rest.

 

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White has always been the color of new beginnings, a clean slate. It represents innocence, making it a perfect color for weddings. (At least here in the United States. In China, red is the color frequently chosen by brides!)

The tablescape, below, is from my wedding. I used white roses, white hydrangeas, white tulips and white lilies of the valley in silver chalices, along with white votive candles and white shells. It still takes my breath away.

 

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White is also associated with cleanliness, sterility, and safety, making it an excellent choice for kitchens.

 

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Dogs look marvelous in white!

 

047 8x10 email Trudy, Frank and dogs

G.G., Tuffy, and Ellie. Also Trudy and Frank

Although some people (Women on Fire founder Debbie Phillips and her husband, Rob Berkley) prefer white cats.

 

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Wilbur

I love my white bedroom on Nantucket.

 

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White is soothing in a place to sit and read.

 

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It’s perfect in a dining room.

 

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I’ve always loved white sofas…

 

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white starfish…

 

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or starfish with white…

 

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the beauty of blue and white…

 

bedroom blue and white

 

White is the perfect color for marshmallows…

 

Gourmet Hot Chocolate Milk

 

for snow hares…

 

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for outdoor furniture…

 

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for flowers…

 

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and lamps.

 

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As someone who has always lived on the coast, either in Connecticut or on my beautiful Nantucket Island, I think I like it best in sand–

 

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and shells–

 

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and sea.

 

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Luckily, I don’t have to choose.

 

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White is beautiful everywhere.

 

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Merry, Bright, and Delicious

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It’s easy to fall back on decorating in the same way every year for the holidays, using the same treasures, heirlooms, and baubles. That’s part of what makes a tradition, and there’s nothing wrong with always putting your vintage Santas on the mantle, or filling a glass bowl with ornaments and greenery. Those looks are classic, and timeless.

christmas dining room

It’s also fun, though, to come up with a fresh new look for your home. I’ve decorated so many holiday venues–my own home, my clients’ homes, and showhouses galore! Here are a few of my favorite vignettes! I hope they’ll inspire you to create beautiful new tableaus this year.

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The display above was presented at the Whaling Museum on Nantucket. It’s one one I did several years ago for the Nantucket Historical Association’s Festival of Trees, inspired by a Russian Folk Tale called The Snow Maiden.  You can see her silhouetted in the white cathedral.  It celebrates my Russian heritage, which makes it all the more special to me and my family. Take some time to look into your own ethnic background and family heritage to see what legends and beliefs you can discover. Then introduce it to your holiday decor!

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A Victorian Christmas was the theme for this holiday house at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum in Norwalk, Connecticut, a National Historic Landmark dating to 1868.

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A custom-made sugar gazebo graces the mantle with sugar Christmas trees, and elaborate swags of fruit-embellished evergreens were in keeping with the traditions of the era.

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You almost expect to see Charles Dickens arrive on a visit from London, with his wife Catherine, and their ten children!

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The Dickens family was, sadly, no where to be found, though it does look as if they just left the table!

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Luckily for us, we didn’t need the Dickens family to have a wonderful dinner at this year’s Christmas Stroll on Nantucket. We have our very own Saint Nick–no, not that Saint Nick–I mean my stepson, Nick Fasanella, a fabulous chef and owner of two San Francisco restaurants who comes and cooks for us. It doesn’t hurt to start the dinner preparations with a visit to the Scallop Shack for fresh Nantucket Bay Scallops right out of the water.

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Once Nick picked out the freshest, most delicious looking scallops he could find, he headed home to prepare this fabulous menu:

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Nantucket Scallops and Corn Chowder in a Mashed Potato Basket

(pronounced “scollops”)

(Serves 4)

Step One: Mashed Potatoes

6 Medium sized Yukon Gold Potatoes

1/2 cup whole milk

3 Tablespoons Butter

Salt and Pepper to taste

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and add potatoes that have been cut into quarters. Simmer for 15 minutes or until tender. Puree with milk and butter until smooth.

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Step Two: Corn Chowder

2 slices bacon, diced

1 cup onion, diced

1/2 cup celery

1 Tablespoon butter

1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour

2 cups half and half

4 ears corn

Slower render bacon, and when brown, add onion, celery and butter. Sweat until translucent (3-5 minutes). Stir in flour and toast for two minutes. Stir in half and half, bring to a simmer, then add corn. Simmer for 15 minutes. Check for seasoning.

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 Step Three: Scallops

Bake 8 slices of thin bacon in a 350 degree oven until nice and crispy; set aside.

(Keep oven set on 200 degrees after the bacon is cooked. Put four large dinner plates to warm in the oven.)

1.5 -2 lbs of Nantucket bay scallops

2 Tablespoons butter

4 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

Work in two batches. Heat a large saute pan and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1/2 of the DRY scallops (pat both sides in paper towels) and then add 1 tablespoon butter. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then shake, flip, or roll the little fellas onto the other side for 1 minute.If the pan is properly hot they should be golden brown on both sides. Slide onto a plate and keep warm in the oven. REPEAT.

To Plate: Place a nice scoop of potatoes in the center of the plate, working inside out to make a circle. Add the chowder, 1/4 of the scallops, 2 crumbled slices of bacon, and parsley.

YUM.

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To see more of Chef Nick’s great food, check out www.tackosf.com.

 

Dining Through the Ages

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The holidays have arrived, and we’ll all be spending time in dining rooms for the next several weeks. A well-appointed dining room is both functional and beautiful, encouraging relaxation and companionship, as well as the enjoyment of our food. The dining room is a relatively new idea, however. When people first began to inhabit built dwellings, they shared a common room for sleeping, cooking, and eating, and sometimes, invited their barnyard companions to share the space with them.

Doorway into the hill in lower austria

The idea of a separate dining room began, according to historians, with the ancient Greeks, who gathered on stone or wood couches (men only!) to eat honey cakes and chestnuts in seclusion. The ancient Romans had a separate room called the triclinium for their meals, but women were invited.

A dining room-kitchen inside a medieval castle.

By the Middle Ages, wealthier people were eating in dining rooms, but comfort was still out of reach in the large, drafty halls. As the Industrial Revolution brought increased prosperity to the populace, more people could enjoy the benefits of a separate room for formal dining, along with silver cutlery, delicate china, and linen tablecloths. Author Bill Bryson, in his book At Home: A Short History of Private Life, says that when Thomas Jefferson put in a dining room at Monticello, it was quite a dashing thing to do. Elsewhere, meals were still being served at little tables in any convenient space.

An image of a dining room and fireplace in a primitive colonial style reproduction home. The home is built with materials reclaimed from structures built in the late 1700's. The styling is authentic primitive colonial, with modern amenities added to make the home functional and comfortable for a modern family. The furniture and decor are antiques fro the late 18th century.

So in honor of the holiday and the meals we’ll enjoy there, here’s to our dining rooms! And here are a few of my favorite Dujardin-designed dining rooms for you to enjoy.

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The table is a 20th century reproduction of an 18th century Irish lacemaker’s worktable, surrounded by a rare set of American spindle back chairs with their original black paint. 

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A wrought iron and rock crystal chandelier brings elegant light to this comfortable space.

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Hermes orange is this homeowner’s favorite color!

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The farmhouse table is surrounded by black-painted Windsor chairs. The hanging light fixtures are contemporary versions of 19th century Colonial “smoke bells,” designed to keep the candles from blowing out and smoke from marking the ceiling. 

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The hand painted floor is striking and adds another layer of interest to this beautiful room.

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The dining corner in this New York City apartment was created with curving walls and a dropped ceiling. The solid walnut table is by Hellman-Chang.

photos 88 old saugatuck 002 (2) copy This is my dining room in Connecticut, where I’ll be serving Thanksgiving dinner to my family. Wherever you spend yours, I hope it’s a safe and happy one!

 

Design in Dallas

Dallas City skyline at sunset, Texas, USA

Dallas City skyline at sunset, Texas, USA

One of the greatest joys while traveling is experiencing the unique culture and architecture in a city. My recent trip to Dallas, Texas for the Design Futures Council’s Leadership Summit on Sustainable Design filled me with admiration for the mostly modernist and postmodernist skyline. Although the city has long been associated with cotton, cattle and oil, that was in its heyday of long ago. Today, you’ll find stylish professionals from all over the world, and the requisite shopping, hotels and restaurants a first class city is known for.

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Dallas has had a reputation for being made up of shiny glass boxes, as it succumbed to the craze for reflective glass in the 1970s. Drivers sometimes complain about the glittering reflection of the sun in their eyes during late day commutes, but the sparkling skyline has long been a source of pride for residents. I loved the views from my hotel windows, and the nighttime glow when the sun went down and the city lit up.

Dallas Skyline

Dallas Skyline

Today, some of the best examples of architecture are the Reunion Tower with its landmark observation deck and light shows–

reunion tower the JFK Memorial in the West End Historic District, by the noted architect Phillip Johnson–

JFK Memorial and I.M. Pei’s Dallas City Hall.

dallas city hall

The biggest new structure in Dallas is the bridge over the Trinity River, part of the Trinity River Project.

bridge dallas

photo credit: Aaron Morrow

A striking display in the Great Hall in The State Hall is a gold medallion, twelve feet in diameter. The star in the middle is the symbol of Texas.

great hall in hall of state fair

photo credit: Aaron Morrow

One of my favorite spots on this trip was the Nasher Sculpture Center, where a roofless building is home to one of the finest collections of modern and contemporary sculpture in the world. Nasher sculpture garden 3

Eviva Amore by Mark di Suvero

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Rush Hour by George Segal

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Bronze Crowd by Magdalena Abakanowicz

Dallas is still home to beautiful countryside, too, if you drive outside the city.  I can’t wait to go back.

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Marshall, Texas. Photo credit: Aaron Morrow

Design Futures Council: Senior Fellow

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This has been an especially gratifying year for me. In the past twelve months, I’ve published my design book (Comfort Zone: Creating the Eco-Elegant Interior), I’ve been named to the College of Fellows for the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), and I have just received word that the Design Futures Council has named me a Senior Fellow.

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Ed Mazria reporting on the climate, 2014

The Design Futures Council (DFC) is an interdisciplinary network of leaders in design confronting global challenges. I’ve been a longtime member and contributor, happy to join with my friend and respected colleague James P. Cramer, who became the DFC’s primary founder and facilitator of information and inspiration throughout the organization.

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To be named as a Senior Fellow by this highly esteemed group of professionals is recognition for “significant contributions toward the understanding of changing trends, new research, and applied knowledge that improve the built environment and the human condition.”

Jim Cramer says, “The leadership role of design is of critical importance toward the creation of a healthier and happier planet. The new Senior Fellows of the DFC have been selected for the tremendous impact they have had on our world.”

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A happier, healthier planet is what I’ve worked for throughout my career. I’m proud to join the other Senior Fellows in that endeavor.

 

Walk Now, Act Now, for Autism Speaks

A recent letter from Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks, included a quote from Vietnamese author Thich Nhat Hanh: “Compassion is a verb.” Taking compassionate action is what makes a real difference in the world, and that kind of active support has allowed Autism Speaks to make great strides forward this year.

 Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi

A few of the organization’s achievements:Fifty thousand people honored loved ones with autism on April 2nd for World Autism Awareness Day, with rallies, candlelight vigils, and awareness games at professional sports events. The United Nations held a special panel on autism. As night fell, more than 18,600 monuments, buildings, places of worship and homes glowed with a beautiful blue light in 142 countries on every continent for Light It Up Blue.


There’s a genome project with Google to provide more data to scientists. The ABLE Act (Achieving a Better Life Experience) is now underway in all 50 states. The Autism Cares Act was passed and signed into law by President Obama in August 2014. And the first global conference on autism was held at the Vatican with an audience afterward with Pope Francis, where he called upon every Catholic to accept and support all people with autism.

 Pope Francis with Bob and Suzanne Wright at the Vatican

I’m a fervent believer in the work of Autism Speaks, which is why I wholeheartedly support their important work. I’ve written before about autism (you can read my posts here, here and here), and as a sponsor, I’ll be walking with my husband, Frank, and our three little Bichons, Tuffy, G.G. and Ellie again this year on Nantucket.

Walk Now for Autism Speaks begins at Jetties Beach on Saturday, August 15. It’s a two mile walk and community resource fair with lots of family and child-friendly activities, in addition to raising much needed funds for autism research, and generating awareness about the increasing prevalence of autism.

If you’re not on Nantucket, then go to this site to find out when there’s a Walk Now event in your area.


Autism Speaks.It’s time to listen.

Serendipity!

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What does Serendipity mean to you? It’s most often the occurrence of events by chance in a happy or fortunate way. That certainly describes my pleasure in meeting the Home Editor of Serendipity Magazine, Stephanie Horton, and her wonderful feature on a home I designed not once but twice on Nantucket Island. It’s in the June 2015 issue!

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If you can pick up a copy of the magazine, I encourage you to do so.

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If not, I tell the story here  of the house that was moved from its precarious location on a bluff three times to save it from the rapidly encroaching sea. Island erosion can be dangerous to homes, but this beautiful Edwardian-era house was successfully moved and brought back to new life.

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Take a closer look!

Small Wonder

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There’s a movement right now among people who want to live in smaller places. It ranges from Tiny House Nation–a fascinating television show that features homes built in as little as 300 square feet!–to couples simply downsizing and making do with less stuff, in order to have more time to do the things they love. Sometimes, a small home is built for other reasons. The house above is called the Hollensbury Spite House. The seven-foot wide, 325 square foot home was built by John Hollensbury in an alleyway next to his home in Alexandria, Virginia, to stop people from using the empty space.

 tiny house 50's bungalow1950’s style bungalow

People used to live in smaller houses than are typical today, although the average house size in America is still only 2,300 square feet. We’ve gotten used to large, walk in closets, luxury-sized master bedrooms and adjoining baths, and family rooms that accommodate a large crowd. For empty nesters and older couples, as well as younger families living on a budget, or just for the aesthetic of living with fewer items and more open space, smaller can sometimes be better.

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You can trade a large traditional home for a smaller, renovated barn, or swap enough bedrooms for a houseful of guests for a country cottage that is perfect for two. Original farmhouses–the kind that haven’t been renovated and expanded over the years–can provide just enough space at 2,000 square feet, or less. They were built small to save on heat and maintenance costs, a consideration to appreciate then and now.

farmhouse

Or if you’re not ready to move, you can create your own little getaway in your garden, as I did a few years ago on Nantucket. If you can imagine it, you can create it!

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If you’re ready to downsize, consider the following steps:

1. High quality furniture is more important than ever. Only buy the best you can afford. A small space doesn’t have room for extraneous, lower quality pieces.

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2. Measure carefully. Smaller rooms aren’t as forgiving, and both function and flow need to be planned. Small scale furniture is a must. This is where the services of an interior designer are invaluable.

intown cottage 2

3. Make a fresh start, and put in the new house only things you would replace if you had to start over from scratch. You don’t need as much as you think you do to be happy. Less is often more.

intown cottage

Our Brother’s Keeper

brother

It’s impossible to honor Earth Day without reflecting on the animals that share the planet with us. Although great strides have been made in animal protection and endangered animal conservation, we still have a long way to go. In our rapidly overpopulating world, where habitat is disappearing and animal species are declining, we have no choice but to see the animals as our brothers, and to do what is in our power to protect them.

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(image: fightforrhinos.com)

One of the more disturbing news items was reported by The Huffington Post on April 14th, with a story about Sudan, the world’s last male Northern White Rhino.The Northern White Rhino has been on earth for 50 million years, but poachers in search of their horns have reduced this once plentiful animal, a subspecies of rhino, to only five left on earth. The last male and two female rhinos of his subspecies are cared for under 24 hour armed guard at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Two other females live in captivity.

rhino

To make Sudan less of a target for poachers, his horn has been removed, and he has been fitted with radio transmitters. It is hoped that the forty year old Rhino will one day be able to produce progeny, and save his species from extinction. Ground rhino horn is considered a health aid in Chinese medicine, and is particularly popular in Vietnam. There are just 1,037 rhinos of all subspecies still roaming wildlife parks and national conservancies.

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There are many ways to help animals this Earth Day, from contributing to Save the Rhino, the World Wildlife Fund, or The Humane Society. Or you can do something closer to home, perhaps even in your own backyard.

bichon

If you’re using pesticides and herbicides on your lawn and garden, you’re using them on your pets, too. Whatever chemicals collect on your dog’s or cat’s paws and fur stay there until the next time you give them a bath, although unless you bathe them immediately, they have more than likely been absorbed into their bloodstream. Those chemicals also get tracked inside, where they don’t break down, due to the absence of water and sunlight. If you love the look of a vibrant, weed-free lawn, but you also love your companion animals, consider the following:

  • According to a study conducted over a six-year period at the Foster Hospital for Small Animals at Tuft University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, a dog’s exposure to lawn pesticides–specifically those applied by professional lawn care companies–raised the risk of canine malignant lymphoma (CML) by as much as 70%.

 

  • Dogs at highest risk for acquiring CML were over 50 pounds, living in homes where pesticides and herbicides were professionally applied, and where owners used lawn care products containing insect growth regulators (killing agents).

 

  • A 2004 study from Purdue University showed that dogs exposed to chemically treated lawns had a dramatically increased risk of Transitional Cell Carcinoma (bladder cancer). Breeds at highest risk include Scottish Terriers, Shetland Sheepdogs, West Highland Terriers and Beagles.

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Many of our ideas about having a perfect, green lawn are leftovers from an era when pesticides were considered safe, and water was plentiful. The ideal of having a lawn like a green carpet began in the mid-1950s, but we’ve learned a lot about the dangers since then. If you don’t have pets yourself, consider that pesticide poisoning kills 60-70 million birds each year in the U.S. alone. Those chemicals also end up in our groundwater, through rainwater runoff, or by leaching through the soil.

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I love animals, especially my three Bichons, G.G., Tuffy and Ellie, and want to give them the best possible life that I can. Lawn chemicals aren’t the only way we can unintentionally harm our pets. There are dangers from flea and tick products, and the marketplace is full of low quality commercial food that is not only unhealthy, but can even be contaminated with toxic chemicals, or melamine.

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Here are my Ten Tips for keeping your furry friends healthy:

  • Instead of using commercial pesticides and herbicides on your lawn, hire an organic lawn and garden company that can feed your grass without endangering your pets or family. I use Growing Solutions, an organic lawn and plant care company that is dedicated to maintaining safe, healthy environments for their clients. The owner, Chris Baliko, is knowledgeable, helpful, and very responsive to his customer’s needs.

 

  •  If you choose to do it yourself, begin by establishing a base of healthy soil. Healthy soil has a high organic content that discourages weeds and disease. You may have a few weeds, but some are actually beneficial, such as clover, which adds valuable nutrients. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection offers helpful information.

 

  • Before you apply commercial flea and tick products, be aware that at least 1,600 pet deaths related to spot on treatments were reported to the EPA over the last five years. The EPA assigns risk levels to all pesticides, and has said that  some flea and tick preparations contain ingredients that are likely carcinogens to humans. Serious medical reactions for your pet can include heart attacks, seizures, and brain damage.

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  • Alternatives exist! The best pest repellent is a radiantly healthy dog or cat. Fleas are less attracted to healthy animals.

 

  • In the house, sprinkle floors with a borate powder (such as 20 Mule Team Borax), then sweep or vacuum it up. It kills flea larvae very effectively without risk of toxicity.
  • A bath with any kind of shampoo will drown fleas.  Just leave the lather on for 3-5 minutes, and you don’t need to use a flea preparation.

 

  • Comb your pet regularly with a flea comb to remove fleas from his fur, and dunk the comb in a glass of soapy water to drown any fleas you find.

 

  • One of my favorite stores in Westport, Connecticut is Earth Animal. Founded by Dr. Bob and Susan Goldstein to offer products for pets that are pure and natural, they offer a complete holistic flea and tick prevention program. By simply adding powder and drops to your pet’s daily diet, a combination of vitamins, minerals and herbs will change the odor of your pet’s blood chemistry to repel pests. At the same time, it builds their immune system. And it’s available online.

 

  • The Goldsteins are also advocates of a home-cooked diet for your dog, and so am I. I like Dr. Harvey’s Canine Health Organic Pre-Mix. You simply add hot water, a protein source such as chicken, beef, turkey or even fish, and a small amount of quality oil. Add a daily vitamin supplement, and your pet will thank you for making her healthier than she’s ever been.

 

  • Animals can be easily sickened by toxic household cleaning products, too. You can clean with ingredients from your kitchen, such as lemons, vinegar, and baking soda, or use organic cleaning supplies, such as those made by Seventh Generation.

itchy dogs

I have many more tips for keeping your pets safe, including using Bucks Mountain Parasite Dust, among other methods. You can find my previous blog posts here and here. “The greatness of a nation can be judged by how its animals are treated,” said Mahatma Ghandi.  We can do a great deal of good by giving all animals the respect they deserve.

 

 

Two Hearts and a Hospital

hearts

I’d like to tell you a story about two hearts and a hospital. One heart belongs to a little girl from Honduras, named Ana Cristina Quevedo. I’ve never met her, but her story matters to me.  Little Ana had a congenital heart defect that caused her to struggle to breathe. She used to crouch down on the ground to conserve her energy, as she was often too weak to stand up.

The second heart belongs to my husband, Frank.

The hospital is the Cleveland Clinic.

Cleveland Clinic Miller Pavilion

Until two months ago, when my husband, Frank, suddenly needed open heart surgery, I was aware of the Cleveland Clinic, but only in a general, several-steps-removed way. Frank’s stress test and angiogram that showed an urgent (and unexpected!) need for bypass surgery introduced us to a world many others share, where we were caught up in a whirlwind of doctors, phone calls, questions, answers, and decisions.

Although we were blessed with many excellent options and caring medical professionals, we decided to go to the Cleveland Clinic, for their world-renowned cardiac unit, and some of the most skilled doctors in the world. I wrote about our journey to what we now call The City of Valentines here.

cleveland clinic campus

I will always have a love for Cleveland now, and for the Cleveland Clinic. When I learned that the Clinic is a non-profit institution that provides clinical and hospital care along with world-class research and education, in one of the largest and most respected hospital systems in the country, I developed a deep respect for the important work they do every day.

It’s impossible to overstate the incredible lifesaving surgeries and care they perform there. Frank returned home, whole and healthy, but he is simply one of thousands who come in through their doors, and leave to return to a full and vibrant life. The motto and mission of the Clinic is “Patients First.” Frank and I can attest to it. We experienced it first hand.

cleveland clinic 3

The Clinic’s March email newsletter told a story of another heart surgery, for little 9-year-old Ana, accompanied from Honduras to the Clinic by her father, Juan Ramon Quevado. Her heart’s congenital defect meant her heart wasn’t strong enough to pump blood throughout her body.

“When we first saw Ana, her fingertips and lips were blue from lack of oxygen in her blood,” said Brain Smith, director of Strategic Project Development at the Cleveland Clinic. He’s also a board member and volunteer for Helping Hands for Honduras, which provides cardiac care to Honduran infants and children with congenital heart defects at no cost to their families.

HHH Logo

Ana desperately needed a complex surgery which would reconfigure her heart. It was impossible to perform the surgery in Honduras, so emails and phone calls were exchanged at a frantic pace, and soon Ana was on her way to Cleveland. Helping Hands for Honduras arranged medical visas and passports, and American Airlines contributed airline tickets.

On September 2, 2014, the pediatric cardiac surgical team gave her a second chance at life. Today, she has an oxygen saturation level of 97 percent, well within normal range, and has grown an inch and a half in two months.

ana

Frank and I have become contributors to the Toby Cosgrove Innovation Fund,supporting the clinic in the name of its CEO, Delos “Toby” Cosgrove, and in honor of Frank’s doctors, Dr. Donald F. Hammer and Dr. Edward G. Soltesz. The path we walk through life can open our eyes to  needs we never knew were there.

The best paths through life can also open our hearts. Frank’s heart is open today, because of the Cleveland Clinic. They have our lifelong gratitude. Eight weeks after Frank’s life-altering surgery, we’re back home and back to work: healthy and happy!

frank post surgery

Frank and Trudy at an installation in New York City

Our journey has included an exploration of wonderful heart-healthy meals.   A fabulous book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, by Cleveland Clinic Cardiologist Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D., has, in turn, inspired The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook, by Ann Crile Esselstyn and Jane Esselstyn. Here’s one of our new favorites. If you make it, let me know if you enjoy it as much as we do!

Ted’s House Salad

  • 3 cups spring greens
  • 1/2 jicama, peeled and cut into strips
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 purple bell pepper or red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
  • 1/2 English cucumber, sliced
  • 2 purple potatoes or red new potatoes, cooked and sliced
  • 1/4 cup raspberries
  • 1 small apple, cut into thin horizontal circles with the beautiful center star featured
  • 1/2  cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted

Dressing

  • 2-3 tablespoons hummus, prepared without oil or tahini
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (to taste)
  • Splash of orange juice

Combine the greens, jicama, carrots, peppers, cucumber, potatoes, raspberries, apple, raisins, and pumpkin seeds in a funky bowl, dress, and serve with wacky tongs!

The wacky tongs are optional.

Every Room Has a Beginning

living room

Have you ever walked into a room and wondered where to begin? Interior designers face this question all the time. There’s always a starting point, a moment of inspiration. It may be the window with the stunning view and the way the sunlight slants into the room, or a family heirloom or painting that helps define colors and style.

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In this case, the entire house we’d first designed and completed in 1995 was picked up and moved across Nantucket Island. Erosion on Sconset Bluff had caused the home to be moved from its precarious position first in 2008, and again only a few years later.

© kenneth brizzee

When the house was carefully set down again in its new location facing Nantucket Harbor, it was time to take a new look at the Edwardian-era home. The owners still loved what we created almost 20 years earlier, but wanted an updated version, while still retaining their favorite pieces from the original design. As part of the design process, my team and I began with detailed scaled drawings that showed our concept of the space.

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In the living room, the owners loved the custom rug in their favorite colors, with a floral pattern reminiscent of their beloved gardens. The decision to keep the rug I designed in 1994 set the stage for everything that followed. Besides the “green” ideal of re-using existing pieces, it is so rewarding when a client loves what you created so much that they want to keep the feel of the original design from years ago.

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Renderings are particularly helpful with long-distance clients. A board was sent to the owners detailing the fabrics, the carpet runners and the faux paint wall treatments. The colors were updated. Celestial blue and white blended with soft touches of buttery yellow would make the home as inviting as a summer sky. The designs, though traditional, were clean lined and reflected the simpler tastes of the 21st century.

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Fabrics for the living room were sent for approval, along with the design for window treatment. An up-to-date tailored valance with panels replaced the floral English country house look. Both panels and valance were accented with a custom trim we created from a striped fabric.

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We also retained most of the original furnishings, which were reupholstered with new fabrics. The chairs were redone in indoor/outdoor fabric, with cording and tape trim for a touch of detail.

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Options for additional pieces of furniture were proposed for the living room. From the pieces submitted, the clients chose two conversation groups and a game table area to be placed by the windows.

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An artist created the unique wall treatment, with stenciled shells accenting important architectural features. The shell pattern related the home to the harbor and the sea beyond. The Blue Willow patterned fabric on the sofa pillows recalled Nantucket history and the days when sea captains brought back gifts of Chinese Export porcelain.

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In just ten months, we managed a comprehensive house redesign, incorporating favorite pieces from the original home and seamlessly blending them into a sophisticated, 21st century style for an expanding family of parents, grown children, new in-laws, and grandchildren. From a two- to three-month planning and selection phase to a six- to seven-month ordering and implementation phase, we completely redesigned a house with four floors and seven bedrooms.

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It was an amazing amount of work in a short time frame, but the clients were happy with every single detail of their new home, and so were we.

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Green Gifts

Environmental gift

Finding the perfect gift for the people we love is always a challenge, but so many of us enjoy the blessings of a good life that the task becomes more difficult. What to get for someone who has everything is a common problem, but no one truly has everything. On the contrary, even people who have many material comforts will always find their lives enriched with a gift that honors nature, wildlife, and the earth.

That’s why I love the Natural Resource Defense Council’s list of “Green Gifts.” They’re easy to purchase online, and come with either a print or online card sent to the recipient. Here are a few of my favorites.

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Bee a Hero: I’ve written about the plight of honey bees before, and I used to keep bees myself, so they’re near and dear to my heart. More important is the fact that they’re an indicator of the general health of our ecosystems, and today they’re dying at an alarming rate. One third of the human food supply depends on bees for pollination, which is why more beekeepers are being called upon to travel with their hives to orchards and farms to help the process along.

For $25, you can buy a “buzz worthy” gift offered by the NRDC in conjunction with Seedles, a company dedicated to promoting bee health. Seedles will donate bee-friendly wildflower kits, including seeds, pots, compost and instructions, to classrooms which will plant wildflowers.

NRDC Seedles bee

And in honor of these sweet pollinators, you can buy a Bee Love greeting card from Seedles for just $2.00, drawn by artist Sunny Solwind.

If things that fly are your gift of choice, consider Butterfly Beauty, and add a gift of a half dozen milkweed plants–

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the one thing Monarch Butterflies need to survive–for another $25.

Still feeling generous? Add $25 more, and save bees, butterflies and birds with Save a Songbird. Protect Canada’s boreal forest, our continent’s most important songbird nesting area.

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All that for under $100!

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The Nature Conservancy has their own program. One of the most popular is the “Adopt an Acre” gift. For $50 (or more if you choose), you can help protect some of the world’s most beautiful and diverse habitats. The Nature Conservancy has Adopt an Acre programs in Africa, Australia, Costa Rica, the Northern Rockies, the Appalachians and the Southern Forests of the United States. Pick one and your loved one will receive an adoption certificate along with a fact sheet listing the wildlife you’ve helped to protect.

Christmas garbage

Still need convincing? According to RecycleWorks.org, household waste increases by 25% between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We throw away four million tons of gift wrapping and shopping bags in America, and buy 2.65 billion holiday cards. With an average of $800 per household spent on holiday gifts, imagine the good we can do if we support earth-friendly organizations.

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Don’t forget about your four legged friends! Since 1997, Planet Dog has been recognized as one of the leading socially responsible canine products providers. With their motto “Act locally, think doggedly” to guide their corporate vision, they develop and create premium non-toxic, recyclable “chomped” chews, squeaky toys, leashes and more.

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Make this the year that you give less stuff, and do more good. The whole wild world will thank you.

 

 

 

Inspiration Starts Here

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On my new Dujardin Home website, I say that “Inspiration Starts Here!” I want to inspire all of you to see your home with new eyes, to be delighted with the very special items we’ve searched the world to find, and to find new ways to bring elegance, beauty and health to your lives.

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I thought you might be interested to see where my inspiration comes from. My life and my work have taken me to some of the most wonderful places on earth. I have seen so many beautiful sights just this year, from the shores of Long Island Sound where I make my year-round home…

long island sound

…to the harbor of Nantucket Island…

nantucket harbor

…from the excitement of New York City…

Brooklyn Bridge and the New York Financial District at dusk

…to the town of High Point, North Carolina…

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… from the castles of St. Andrews, Scotland…

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…to the canals of Venice.

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Add to that the many showrooms I visit in the Decoration and Design Building and at 200 Lex in New York City, and in Design Centers in other cities around the country. I see and handle sumptuous fabrics, brilliantly designed lights and chandeliers, hand carved wooden case goods and deeply comfortable upholstered furniture. All of it becomes part of my thoughts and my dreams.

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Now I’ve realized one of my dreams, which is to bring this beauty and elegance to you. Our curated collection is inspired by the best of what I see and live every day, and the many creative and talented people I meet and work with.

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 Here I am with John and Chad Stark, of the Stark Carpet Corporation

 And we’re just beginning. Stay with me. We’re going to some wonderful places, and I have some more wonderful things to share at Dujardin Home!

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From Model-T to Model S

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Imagine if it was possible to drive a car without worrying about polluting the atmosphere, and what you were contributing to climate change. Imagine a country without gas stations, and without dependence on fossil fuels. Imagine more American jobs.

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Anyone who has made a commitment to living in an environmentally responsible manner has confronted the difficulty of everyday choices. As one of the first design professionals to embrace green design in the 1980s, I’ve seen huge changes in the building industry, and in the marketplace for sustainable goods and services. As a passionate environmentalist, I’m heartened by the number of manufacturers who are responding to the demands of their customers by making better, greener products available.

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I first wrote about electric cars in October, 2012. After highlighting a number of cars available at that time (the Chevrolet Volt, the Nissan Leaf, the Mitsubishi i-MIEV), I ended with a promise: that my next car would be an electric one.

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I’ve kept that promise. I’m now the owner of a new Tesla Model S. I made that choice for a few good reasons, most of them outlined in the first paragraph of this post. Like other writers on this topic have said, I never would have spent this much for a car without Tesla’s advanced technology. I’ve driven a Toyota Prius for some time, and appreciate that hybrid car for what it offers. My new Tesla takes electric technology to the next level.

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Here are a few things I considered in making my decision:

1. Zero Emissions and no fossil fuels: This car is 100% free of pollutants, and frees us from dependence on foreign oil sources.

2. Quick recharging capability: A Tesla can be 50% recharged in 20 minutes, and 80% recharged in 40 minutes. If you’re driving a long distance, you can recharge at a supercharger station in the amount of time it takes to grab a cup of coffee and take a comfort break. And with its extensive range (up to 300 miles), most recharging happens overnight. Other electric cars can take hours to charge.

3. It’s Extremely Safe: With all the weight in the floor where the batteries are, the car’s center of gravity is very low, making it safer than many other vehicles.

4. It’s Recyclable: The car’s battery and motor use no rare earth minerals, and the car frame and body are recyclable aluminum. The battery pack is recyclable, too: One of the criticisms of electric vehicles  is that a battery pack, once exhausted, becomes waste. But there is a growing aftermarket for these batteries in static energy storage application. That will only grow in the months and years to come.

5. It’s Made in America: The Tesla Model S is made in Fremont, California, at a defunct plant once operated as a joint venture between Toyota and General Motors. At the time of my first post on electric cars, Tesla had 3,000 employees. Today, that number has grown to almost 6,000. I like knowing I’m supporting American jobs.

Other Options:

Other than the Tesla, you might consider the Chevrolet Volt, the Smart ForTwo Electric, the Nissan Leaf, or the Mitsubishi i-MIEV.

electric car Chevy Volt

It’s true that charging your car on the electric grid means that the environmental cost is transferred to the utility company. But battery powered cars are more efficient at converting energy into transportation. My Model S can travel almost 300 miles on a single charge of its battery, which equates to less than three gallons of gas.

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We may not have perfect solutions to all our automobile-based problems yet, but supporting new technology is one way to ensure that someone is working on the issues.

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A Bookstore on an Island

mitchells books In the fictional bookstore in The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, the author offers readers a glimpse into what it must be like to operate that endangered species, an independent, neighborhood bookstore. If you ever watched the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan romantic comedy, You’ve Got Mail, then you’re familiar with the feeling of rooting for the small business owner, the bookstore owner whose heart and soul is tied to the community and the authors she serves.

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Bookselling, like most industries, is a complicated business, and I’m grateful for the many booksellers, large and small, that operate across the country. I’ve always been a supporter of my neighborhood bookstores, though, and as a constant reader who buys more books than I can read in a lifetime, I encourage everyone to support them. There’s something charming about the way each small bookseller arranges the world inside his door. Instead of working from a corporate merchandising plan, the lighting, shelves, books and comfortable chairs are one of a kind.

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Nantucket Book Partners, which operates both Mitchell’s Book Corner and Nantucket Bookworks, provides islanders and visitors with just that kind of experience . Both locations offer an enticing view into a wide-ranging inventory of books and boundless ideas for what to read next. As is fitting for an island bookstore, they have a wonderful selection of books about Nantucket, whaling and the island’s genealogy. And best of all, they are a true community resource, with book signings for local authors, advertised on their blog through “What’s on the BOOKS?,” a dedication to providing the best in customer service, a blog feature called “Meet a Nantucket Book Worm,” to let us look over our neighbor’s shoulder to see what she’s reading, and even offer space for a weekly Memoir Writing Group in the store.

As the faded sign on the porch of the Victorian cottage that is home to the fictional Island books says, “No man is an island; every book is a world.” A bookstore is a world, too, and we’re lucky to have two to call our own.

 

 

Three Lighthouses

© kenneth brizzee

There is magic and mystery in lighthouses, beacons of safety for hundreds of years for sailors and ships at sea. There is only one manned lighthouse left in the United States today, the very first lighthouse ever built on U.S. soil: Boston Light on Little Brewster Island, established in 1716. We are fortunate to have 680 lighthouses remaining in the U.S. today, though, three of which are located on Nantucket: Brant Point Light, Great Point Light, and Sankaty Head Light.

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Boston Light on Little Brewster Island

The very first “lighthouses” were simply bonfires built on hills to guide ships away from dangerous coastlines, with the first known structure appearing in the old city of Alexandria in 285 B.C.E. Julius Caesar described the light, also known as the “Pharos,” as a key part of his strategic advantage in subduing Ptolemy’s armies. The Pharos was one of the tallest manmade structures on earth for centuries, and was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It became an abandoned ruin after being damaged by three earthquakes between 956 and 1323. In 1480, the last of its remnant stones were used to build the Citadel of Qaitbay on the site.

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Mosaic of the Alexandria Lighthouse. Photo in public domain.

Nantucket’s lighthouses have a long and storied history as well. The most photographed and recognizable Nantucket light is Brant Point Light, seen by every visitor to the island as the ferry rounds Brant Point on its way to the island. The original Brant Point Light was a simple wooden building established in 1746. After it burned to the ground in 1757, it was replaced with a new wooden structure in 1758. That one fell to  “a violent Gust of Wind” and began a succession of lighthouses which either burned or were destroyed by storms.

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Brant Point Light: Photo by David Fingerhut

The existing Brant Point Light was erected in 1901 as a 26 foot wooden tower, the shortest lighthouse in New England. The Coast Guard took over the property in 1939, when the last lighthouse keeper left.

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Brant Point Light: Photo by David Fingerhut

A second lighthouse was added on Nantucket in 1785: Great Point Light. Sadly, the original wooden tower was destroyed by fire in 1816. Rebuilt in 1818, erosion claimed the second lighthouse in 1984, due to a brutal storm with gale force winds.

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Great Point Light: Photo by David Fingerhut

On September 6, 1986, a replica was lit, three hundreds yards west of the previous tower.  You must have a four wheel drive vehicle and a permit to visit the light, seven miles from Wauwinet. It is part of the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge.

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Great Point Light: Photo by David Fingerhut

The last lighthouse built on Nantucket is Sankaty Head Light.  As the first U.S. lighthouse to receive a “Fresnel lens,” it was the most powerful light in New England when it was built in 1849. Local fishermen referred to it as “the blazing star,” and it was visible from 20 miles away. The Fresnel lens was replaced by aerobeacons in 1950, but the original lens is on display at the Nantucket Whaling Museum.

Erosion came close to claiming the Sankaty Head Light in 2006, when the tower stood only 79 feet from the edge of a cliff which was losing a foot a year to the sea. The tower was moved 400 feet to a new location, where it safely stands today.

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Sankaty Head Light: Photo by David Fingerhut

About the photographer: David Fingerhut specializes in nature photography. His photographs have been shown in 16 countries at exhibits sponsored by the Photographic Society of America. He has been designated a star exhibitor in both Nature and Color Slide Photography. His photographs are for sale as prints, or as high resolution images for publication. Contact him at Davidfingerhut.com. 

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Photo by David Fingerhut

Sailor’s Souvenirs and Whirligigs

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Are you interested in collecting nautical antiques, but aren’t sure where to begin? There are few things as exciting as beginning a new collection, particularly when the items are reminders of love from long ago. Sailors in the 19th century were often away for long periods of time.  It was common practice, then as now, to bring a girlfriend or wife something special when returning home from a long trip. A popular item was a glass rolling pin, often decorated with poetry or artwork. The rolling pin opened on one side so it could be filled with salt, a treasured commodity as a high tax on the preservative made it very expensive until about 1845.

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Most of the blown glass cylinders came from Liverpool, Bristol, or Nailsea, all known as manufacturers of glassware. Bristol was the best known; I have two Sailor’s Souvenirs of my own from Bristol.  Some of the glass items popular at the time were vases, candlesticks, salt cellars, cups and saucers, and other ornamental items.

sailor rolling pin 1850

Nailsea was quite close to Bristol, actually started by a Bristol glassmaker in 1788. Nailsea made many little “fairings” and love-tokens, including the rolling pins. Some people believe the rolling pins were used to smuggle spirits during the strict British Excise laws. Most likely, however, they were filled not only with salt, but also with spices, cocoa or baking powder.

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To keep the salt dry, the glass rolling pins were often hung by a fireplace. Superstitions abounded in the maritime community, and it was thought that if a rolling pin fell to the floor and broke, that the sailor would either be in a shipwreck or lost to another woman.

sailor whirligig from etsy

Another charming folk art collectible is the sailor whirligig.  Because the whirligig depends for its movement on the same principles which propels a weathervane, it is thought that the first whirligigs were made by either farmers or sailors, the groups most concerned with wind direction and a change in the weather.  “Nantucket” or “sailor” whirligigs were popular toys in the 19th century, and the most common form is that of a sailor twirling his paddle arms.

sailor whirligig cape cod folk art from yessy.com

Supposedly the whirligig was a child’s toy during a time of strict religious practices. A father would whittle a toy that moved by wind alone to entertain a bored child who was forbidden to play during the day. It’s unclear whether or not this is a true story, but the whirligig today is among the most valued of folk art objects, particularly with its original paint.

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photo courtesy of live auctioneers.com

There are Victorian-era collectibles for any budget, so start searching for some of the beautiful and fascinating items that interest you. Some rolling pins can still be found quite inexpensively; others are rarer and cost more. An interesting source of additional information on folk art and antiques is Jim Linderman’s blog Dull Tool Dim Bulb. Find it here.

Some of these images were found on the internet, and are included under the U.S. Fair Use Law because their inclusion in this post illustrates an educational article. If you are the owner of any image which you believe to be copyrighted, please contact me at info@dujardindesign.com. 

Pretty Porches

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Grass is growing, flowers are blooming, and our spirits are lighter, along with daylight lasting longer into the evening.   The living areas in our homes expand with patios, decks and porches back in use. The foyer as a transitional space has given way to the garden gate, with paths and borders providing a tantalizing hint into the nature of your home.

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Container plants at the door and gate add a lush note. Think of your pots as living architecture. Here the terra-cotta containers are a complement to the brickwork.  Blend height with interesting textures and leaf shapes. Although flowers are always beautiful, you can create an arresting focal point with grasses and greenery.

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Sometimes less is more, and sometimes, more is more! This cottage garden is overflowing with color and blossoms, and the gravel path is an old fashioned way to lead guests to your door.

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Comfort and color go hand in hand when you add brightly colored cushions and throw pillows. Cobalt blue glassware is a lovely accent.

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Don’t skimp on outdoor furniture. It should be as sturdy and comfortable as any other piece in your home.  A covered porch adds protection from the elements.

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A whimsical sign with the name of your summer home is always a fun touch.

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Candles make the porch twice as inviting when evening falls. There’s no better place to enjoy a glass of wine with your partner or friends as you watch the stars come out.  These are the months we waited for all winter. Take the time to enjoy them!

 

 

How to Garden Green

Blooming Tulips in Garden

Spring is here, and another season of rebirth and growth is upon us. We have a new opportunity, as gardeners, as homeowners, and as earth’s citizens, to make choices that support life, down to the tiniest creatures. Although you may not see evidence of it every day, your garden is teeming with life: bees lazily buzzing from flower to flower, birds flitting through trees brimming with nests and berries, and rivers, streams and ponds in wetlands throughout the region you call home

To really see just how many creatures are part of your micro ecosystem, try this: Sink a clean glass jar, without its lid, into a hole in the ground, and leave it overnight. The next morning, walk outside and enjoy your coffee with the beetles and other little visitors who came to your garden while you slept. Each one is part of a delicate balance that exists in every square foot of your property.

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Make Your Garden a Sanctuary

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 ecosystem. They may also be endocrine disruptors, interfering with the body’s hormonal system in both humans and wildlife. If you’re not part of the suburban quest for the perfect lawn, then your neighbors might be. Killing weeds and encouraging rapid growth of thick green grass may seem the natural thing to do, but nothing could be further from nature.

One hundred million pounds of lawn care chemicals are used by homeowners 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 the 23 pesticides they searched for. Many of these chemicals are linked to cancer, birth defects, and liver or kidney damage.

This Year, Garden Green 

It’s possible to have a beautiful lawn and garden without resorting to dangerous and toxic chemicals. Make this year your “Garden Green” year.

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Here’s how for the lawn:

  • Healthy soil promotes healthy plants. This is your foundation for every other thing you do in the garden. How do you get healthy soil? Add organic compost. You can make your own, or buy it.
  • 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 can also provide a home for beneficial insects, which keep the overall landscape in good health.
  • For the first and last mowing, mow down to two inches, which prevents fungus growth. For the rest of the year, keep our grass higher, at three inches, to shade out weeds and foster deep roots. Short grass promotes weeds, shallow roots and thatch.

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Here’s how for the garden:

  • 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 mulch (chopped leaves, shredded bark, compost) to smother weeds and keep soil moist.
  • Put up birdhouses and bird feeders 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. Look for disease resistant varieties of ornamental trees and roses.
  • A diverse biosphere in the garden best mimics nature, and makes a stable ecosystem. Plant a mix of trees, shrubs, flowers and herbs.
  • Remember that even organic chemicals and pesticides can cause damage if overused, so apply with care, and be sparing in their use!

A few other ideas to make your garden a home for wildlife and a pleasure for everyone:

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  • Instead of putting up fences, plant hedges.  A hedge can provide food, shelter and a nursery for wildlife, including birds and butterflies. If you want a fool-proof way to bring butterflies to your garden, plant a butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii)! Monarch butterflies love the purple variety. 
  • Set up a wormery. If you have a compost system, add worms! You can buy a full kit, and they’ll eat virtually any organic kitchen waste. You’ll be making the best compost in the world. You might try Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm.
  • Encourage other beneficial insects. Lady bugs that eat aphids can be purchased online (Gardens Alive offers lady beetles by mail) or, if you live in Connecticut, at Gilberties Herb Garden in Westport.
  • If you have the space, you can even add a few chickens to provide your family with eggs. They enjoy foraging for garden insects, so they’re a benefit in two ways. Check out Backyard Chickens for more information!

Enjoy nature, and feel good about keeping your little piece of the earth safe and clean. Happy Spring!

 

 

My Seaside Inspiration

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My life on two coastlines (Long Island Sound in Connecticut, and Nantucket Island) inspires my design work in a very personal way. I have always been drawn to the colors of sand, sea, sky and sails.  As I walk the beaches near my homes, I see exquisitely colored shells, small sea animals and picturesque harbors, all of which find their way into the interiors I create . Let me show you my seaside inspiration.

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Horned Ghost Crab

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Conch shell on beach

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shells purple spiral copy

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Seashells close-up

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Rope Knot On Wood

Abstract shell

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“I felt the full breadth and depth of the ocean around the sphere of the earth, back billions of years to the beginning of life, across all the passing lives and deaths, the endless waves of swimming joy and quiet losses of exquisite creatures with fins and fronds, tentacles and wings, colorful and transparent, tiny and huge, coming and going. There is nothing the ocean has not seen.”–Sally Andrew

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LEED Accredited: Why It Matters

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There are few people who haven’t heard the term LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) at this point, whether it is applied to a building project (LEED certified)  or an individual (LEED accredited). When a project receives a LEED rating, it signifies that the building saves energy, reduces pollution, uses fewer resources, and contributes to healthier environments.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) oversees the LEED certification and accreditation process,  They maintain an immense infrastructure to offer support to industry leaders to create innovative and cutting edge homes and buildings. I’m a longterm member of the Council.  My commitment to green building and design dates back to 1987, long before “green” or “sustainable” was a part of industry vernacular.

I’ve built, renovated, designed and lived in a number of “green” homes, and have been privileged to educate my clients and friends about the importance of sustainability. Not all Dujardin Design projects are green, but I try to incorporate green elements wherever there is an opportunity. We happily do every thing from deep green to “gently green” and everything in between.

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I’ve studied to become accredited, and am proud to have the designation LEED AP +ID + C behind my name.  Specifically, that means that I am a LEED Accredited Professional, with a further designation in Interior Design + Construction. The LEED exam I passed measured my ability to support green design, construction and operations. (The exam is a four and a half hour, two part, two hundred question assessment of the candidate’s understanding of LEED , and requires work on a LEED registered project within the past three years.)

Why is this important?  It’s a measurement of knowledge and ability.  It reinforces a commitment to green building. And it emphasizes skills in areas such as energy conservation, reduction in water consumption, improving indoor air quality, and making better building material choices. It’s about environmental stewardship and social responsibility. The USGBC community shares a common goal: everyone learns, works and lives in a green building within this generation.

That’s a goal I’m proud to support.  I hope you’ll do your part to support LEED building projects, too.

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T’was the Night(mare) Before Christmas

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T’was the night before Christmas

And though we had prayed

Not a curtain was hanging

Not a swag or a shade.

The client was calling and saying, “Dear Trudy,

My windows are bare

And they’re making me moody!”

So away to the wall phone I flew like a flash,

Called Saul to the rescue

And begged him to dash!

The snow started falling, the wind it would blow,

But Christmas was coming and my client felt low.

“Dear Saul, you must hurry!

The weather is bad.

And those poor barren windows,

Well, they must be clad!”

“Oy, Trudy,” Saul told me.

“Don’t worry. It’s done!

I’m on my way. I don’t need the sun!

No weather will stop me

My sleigh it is packed

With fabric and grommets and braid

That’s a fact!”

He dashed through the night,

Not a sound did I hear

‘Til late in the evening

They called in good cheer.

My client said, “Trudy, your Saul is a blessing!

He’s been here for hours, my windows are dressing!”

So all’s well that ends well,

My friend saved the day.

He never would stop

Until things went my way.

He showed me the meaning

Of Christmas that night

That business with friendship

Makes everything right.

 

The Story Behind the Poem

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One of my first friends in the design business was a drapery maker named Saul. He was much older than I was, but he took me under his wing and taught me about design and draperies. I was blessed to count him as a friend.

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Saul hadn’t had an easy life. He was a Holocaust victim, but he’d made it through Auschwitz, and worked hard to make a good life for himself and his family in a new country. He had seen enough of the dark side of life. He kept his face turned toward the light.

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He had suffered; he had starved; he had survived. None of that made him bitter, he held onto nothing from his past. He was a good man with a big heart.  He treated me like his daughter, saying, “Trudy’s little, but she thinks she’s big!” He always said he would do anything to make me happy, and one Christmas, he showed me he meant it.

I’d been working hard to finish a client’s home for the holidays. Saul was slated to install window treatments for the first floor of her beautiful home in Connecticut. The client, normally calm and understanding, called me late in the day on Christmas Eve. Saul hadn’t arrived, and she was beside herself, distraught over the idea of Christmas without curtains.

Snow had started to fall, the precursor to a full-blown blizzard.  I didn’t know what to do. The roads were a mess, it was getting dark. Saul was driving from Co-op City,and I didn’t know if he had gotten stranded somewhere. These were the days before cellphones, when it was impossible to reach anyone. My heart sank. Was Saul all right?

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I worried  until 11:30 that night. At last, my phone rang again. It was my client. “Don’t worry, Trudy!” she told me. ” Saul just got here. He said he’s going to stay until he finishes. We’re drinking hot chocolate in front of the fire and singing Christmas carols. ”

The best part was that although Saul arrived in time for her to have curtains for Christmas, her husband had done his part to focus on the true meaning of Christmas as well. She told me that after her frantic call to me, her husband said to her, “Honey, we can have Christmas without curtains. Look around you.  We have Christmas already! We have a beautiful home, a tree, and our children. What more do we need?”

And then Saul arrived at the door, stamping snow from his boots and saying, “Oy vey, I’m here!”

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This dear Jewish man traveled hours through the snow, charmed my client, joined their family festivities, and didn’t leave for home until 2:30 a.m.

Saul taught me many things: about draperies and design, and about business, but mostly about life. He taught me what it was to stand by a friend, and that I could count on him when things fell apart. He was beside me when my mother was ill and in the hospital, and I was beside him when he needed me. He passed suddenly, after an unexpected fall, before I was ready to tell him goodbye. I wasn’t blessed with a large family, but I am grateful for my rich circle of friends. Saul will always be one who is closest to my heart.

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There’s nothing more precious at the holidays than spending time with the people who love us. I wish each and every one of you a Christmas filled with joy. Curtains are a bonus.

Speaking of a Christmas filled with joy, I am so happy that my good friends Tracey and Bill have a new friend with a wagging tail to love this holiday season. Welcome, Dixie!

Dixie

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Courtesy of Cardthartic. For this and their 600 other great card designs, visit www.cardthartic.com. 

 

Belonging to the Heart of a Dog: The Story of a (Humane) Society Girl

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This is a story about a dog.  It’s a story about rescuing a dog, and it’s a story about how it feels to love someone of another species, and how it feels to be loved in return.  It’s mostly a story about what it means to belong to the heart of a dog.

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The heart of a dog is no small thing.  In fact, it may be the biggest thing on earth.  How you get to belong to the heart of a dog can happen in many different ways, but to truly see how important it is, you have to start with one dog, and one dog’s heart.  For Tracey and Bill, it started with Sophie.

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Bill and Tracey met, fell in love, and got engaged.  They were happy together, and there was nothing missing.  But their love was big enough to spill out of their own hearts, big enough to share with someone else, and one day, Tracey said, “Let’s go see the dogs at the Humane Society.”

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There were so many dogs there, and most of them were jumping up and begging for attention, and they all needed homes. It might have been too hard to choose, except that Tracey and Bill saw a dog sitting quietly, her head tilted.  She was behind the begging dogs, with a dignity and grace all her own.  “I like that one,” Tracey heard herself say.  And Sophie found a home.

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Sophie was ten months old, when they adopted her, in October of 1997.  At first, she was afraid of being outside alone, and unsure of her new surroundings, but Tracey and Bill worked hard to reassure her that she was staying with them, that the bad times were over, that she finally had a home.  They referred to her as their “society girl”–Humane Society, that is.

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Luckily for Sophie, Tracey and Bill are the kind of people who know what it means to take care of someone. They brushed Sophie’s teeth, and cleaned her ears.  Because of her Shar Pei heritage, Sophie had a bath once a month with antibacterial soap.  Tracey and Bill watched Sophie’s signals; they looked into her eyes.  Understanding the needs of pack animals, Tracey and Bill made room for Sophie in their bed.  She slept with them until she couldn’t, and then, Tracey slept with her.  “I would get in bed with her, Tracey says.  “She was so gentle, and it was all kisses.”

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“Sophie always looked at me as if she was grateful,” says Tracey.  Being a grateful sort of dog, Sophie was watchful and patient, and always by Tracey’s side.  Sophie knew what it was to take care of someone, too.

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This story ends like the stories of all good dogs, with saying goodbye.  “She was one loved dog,” say Tracey and Bill.

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Here are some of Tracey’s rules for loving a dog.  Perhaps they will help you love your dog, just a little bit better:

On rescuing a shelter dog:

“Sophie came from the wrong side of the tracks.  She had mange; we had to cure that.  She was terrified of going outside by herself–I think she must have been left alone outside.  You have to be patient with a dog from the pound.  They’re grateful, but they’re fragile, until they figure out you’re not just another temporary space.

On the importance of routine: 

“People think dogs don’t wear a watch,” says Tracey, “but they know how to tell time. Routine is so important.  Sophie learned to set her internal clock by Bill, who made sure she had breakfast at eight a.m. and dinner at five p.m.  She knew someone would walk her between three thirty and four. She slept her in our room.  We watched her signals really closely. 

As dogs get older:

“It’s important as your dog gets older to see they have a different set of needs, and you need to help them stay a part of the family.  When Sophie lost her hearing, we googled and read books on deaf dogs.”

On what they learned from Sophie:

“We never walked in the door that Sophie didn’t get up to greet us,” explain Tracey and Bill.  “All she knew was unconditional love.  Her legacy to us is the question, ‘Why have a bad day?  God is good, life is good. Why have a bad day?'”

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So, in the end, this is a story about a dog, and how it feels to belong to a dog’s heart, and all the big and little things that entails.  It starts with falling in love, and it ends with staying in love, even when you say goodbye.  But every cloud has a silver lining, and there can be a happy ending.

Sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes, the dog who’s passed sends a new companion your way: maybe a puppy, or a dog from the shelter, or an elderly dog who needs a home, or a dog of an entirely new breed.  They know how much humans need company.

Trudy and GG, meeting for the first time.

Trudy and GG, meeting for the first time.

GG thinking about sleeping alone.

GG thinking about sleeping alone.

GG, right before going upstairs to sleep with Trudy and Frank. "She healed my heart," says Trudy.

GG, right before going upstairs to sleep with Trudy and Frank. “She healed my heart,” says Trudy.

You’ll know when it’s time.  And somewhere, a dog will be waiting for you.

Jack Russell Terrier Dog Enjoying a Car Ride.

 

“It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them.  And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as loving and generous as they are.’–Unknown

Something in the Air

falling leaves

We often think about fragrance as something light, a delight, an aroma that is carried on the breeze.  We love the lavender-laden air of Provence, the balm of herbs growing in our gardens, the honeysuckle clambering over a trellis to reach our bedroom window. There’s the smell of rain after a thunderstorm, the richness of soft soil and fallen leaves in autumn, and the heaven of a pot of soup simmering on the stove.  In our chemical-dependent world, however, fragrance is not so much a pleasant breeze as it is a heavy storm cloud, making it hard to breathe.

storm clouds

A report by the women’s health advocacy group Women’s Voices for the Earth found that sensitivity to fragrance is more widespread than thought.  Apparently tens of millions of people in the U.S. are sensitive to common fragrance ingredients in household and personal care products.  What makes it almost impossible to identify and avoid fragrance allergens, however, is the fact that companies are not required to disclose the tens to hundreds of ingredients that make up a scent.

Beautiful woman

Some companies do voluntarily disclose this information.  Seventh Generation, one of the leaders in the green products industry, has been disclosing all fragrance ingredients, including allergens, since 1998. They go as far as listing every essential oil that is added to their products.

Symptoms from fragrance exposure and sensitivity can include respiratory effects, immune system impacts, headaches and allergic reactions. The addition of chemical fragrances is common in cleaning products in particular; the European Union has identified 26 chemicals that are likely to cause reactions in sensitized individuals, including Amyl  cinnamal, Benzyl alcohol, and Hydroxy-citronellal.  See a complete list here. 

You can search for fragrance free products, but it’s not an easy task.  Fragrance is found in 96 percent of shampoos, 91 percent of antiperspirants, and 95 percent of shaving products.  And it goes beyond the addition of chemical fragrances.  The Environmental Working Group has been actively campaigning for safer cosmetics, evaluating nearly 80,000 personal care products.  Their findings are alarming: there are an average of 13 chemicals found in the bodies of teenage girls, for instance, including dangerous products such as phthalates, triclosan, parabens and musks, all endocrine disruptors.

Although it may require a search, you can find organic, fragrance free products to support your health, and make you feel beautiful.  Some of my favorites are: Nature’s Gate lotion (fragrance and paraben free), Seventh GenerationNurture My Body (not all fragrance free),  Jason (means “healer” in Greek), Kiss My Face (olive oil and aloe vera), and Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Nourishing Lotion (99% natural and fragrance free but not necessarily organic). .

Evan Healy (philosophy:  The Skin Breathes) is a skin care line that can be found at Whole Foods.  You can also check out Juice Beauty and Jurlique!

If you’d like to learn more about what major cosmetics companies are using in their products, make a visit to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep:  a cosmetics product database.  You may be surprised to learn that the products you trust contain chemicals that are linked to endocrine disruption, among other concerns.

A book and website you may also find of interest is No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About Your Beauty Products and the Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics.  The authors, Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt, leave no bottle unturned in their expose on the most dangerous ingredients in widely used brands and the best clean make up, hair care and skin care products.

And finally, while you’re treating your body well, check out Julie Morris’s cookbooks:  Superfood Kitchen and Superfood Smoothies.  Superfoods are the most nutrient desnse foods on earth, with a remarkable ability to heal, energize and promote radiant good health.

kale

Kale is one of my favorites.  Here’s a quick and easy way to add it to your dinner table:

Organic Braised Kale

Place 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven, heat, and add minced garlic and onion to taste.  Sautee until slightly browned.  Add kale and braise until kale is wilted and not tough.  Approximately 15 minutes, or longer if you prefer.  Sprinkle on some freshly ground black pepper and grated parmesan cheese.  Health and good taste in a serving!

My personal philosophy is A Healthy Home is the Ultimate Luxury.  A healthy body is the ultimate necessity for a good life.  Take good care of yours!

woman on beach

 

 

 

A Comfortable Place to Sit

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One of the most important considerations in designing a home is the comfort of those who live there.  I believe that a home should be beautiful, as beauty lifts the spirits; it should be a sanctuary for health and well-being with clean air and non-toxic surroundings; and it should be be a place of comfort.  A house is not a home without a space to curl up with a good book, put your feet up at the end of a long day, and enjoy a snuggle with pets or people you love.

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When I designed my home in Madaket, one of my husband’s requests was that our living room be a place where he could truly relax.  He wanted to be able to come in, put his feet on the cocktail table, and have a beer with friends.  Nothing in this room is too precious.  The sofas were slip covered in crisp navy and white so that they could be cleaned easily, and a comfortable wicker chair lets our guests know that this is a summer home, where relaxation is encouraged!  (The white canvas is indoor/outdoor fabric, and completely washable!)

window seats 2

I love to read, and I find window seats to be irresistible for hiding away with a book.  The light from the window, changing as the day goes by, the view into the garden, and the scent of a summer breeze takes reading in the middle of the day from a guilty pleasure to a perfect respite.

master bedroom 2

A window seat in a bedroom is always a delight! A space devoted to intimate comforts should have a place to take a little nap in the middle of the day when your schedule allows.

fireplace

Creating a comfortable home requires planning; there should be welcoming chairs everywhere, with lots of daylight streaming through the windows, and a sense of order so you can really rest.  Ottomans let you put your feet up, and a little chairside table will hold both your book and a cool drink.

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If you are fortunate enough to have a beautiful view, then a comfortable place to relax and watch the sea and sky is always appreciated.  It’s the perfect place to enjoy your morning cup of coffee as you slowly wake to the day.

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When you sit down with a good book or to watch a movie with your family, you may not realize that your upholstered furniture too often brings chemicals such as formaldehyde, brominated flame retardants (PBDE’s) and dioxin into your home through off-gassing.  Fortunately, today we have the option of choosing soy-based versus foam cushions, recycled filling for pillows, and organic upholstery fabrics.  Some of the world’s healthiest fabrics are also the most luxurious, including organic cotton, hemp, linen and wool.

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Firelight and the smell of burning wood brings its own kind of relaxation, especially when you’re enveloped in a cozy chair close to its warm glow.

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A porch, veranda or deck can be another living area, serving as a quiet library during sunlit hours, and the perfect spot to watch evening fall with candlelight and a glass of wine to toast the end of day.

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Most of us live busy lives, sometimes too busy, and it’s good to take a moment to sit down occasionally, and enjoy what we’ve accomplished. As A.A. Milne said (as Winnie the Pooh), “Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”

Winnie The Pooh

On Safer Ground in Nantucket Today

living room 2

The August 2013 issue of Nantucket Today features a Dujardin-designed home with a unique story:  this beautiful Edwardian-era residence was saved not once, but twice, from the perils of the sea.  Built in 1908 on the sandy ground of Sconset Bluff on Nantucket, fierce storms and pounding waves in recent years have eroded the fragile shore, placing the house in danger of being swept out to sea.

© kenneth brizzeeThe owners of this elegant home first shifted it farther inland in 2006, but it wasn’t far enough.  The second move for the house was cross-island to Monomoy in 2010, where the house now watches the waves in the harbor from a safe distance. With the sea no longer a too-close neighbor, spectacular gardens have been planted outside with massive hedges, and organic vegetable and fruit gardens instead of sandy paths.

pillows blue willow

I first designed this home in 1996, so there’s an odd sense of deja vu for me as I walk through these rooms.  An updated family room, breakfast room and kitchen replaced a maze of rooms that once was the servant’s wing.

kitchen

The world of 1908 is still in evidence in the house, recalled by the back servants’ stairs and the original call box with bells for the library, the guest rooms, and the original owners of the house, Mr. and Mrs. Dustin.

servants stairs

As befits a home that has lasted for generations, there is a beguiling mix of ages throughout.  In the entry, a 19th Century gilt mirror adds a touch of grandeur, arching over 21st Century whale art in handblown glass by Raven Skyriver.

eagle and whale

An enfilade of rooms opens one upon the other, offering tantalizing glimpses of subtle blues and yellow, creams and whites, richly finished wood floors and plush rugs underfoot. Dignified antiques add a decorous note to airy spaces.

entry

There’s a ribbon of soft color that runs through the house; shades of bluebells and buttercups wrap the rooms in tranquil tones that lit spirits on even the foggiest days.

living room

The home’s original setting on Sconset Bluff is honored in an oil painting that hangs over the living room mantel, a reminder of those more precarious days.

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Just as the house itself has had its second, and third, chance at life, many of the well-loved pieces throughout the home were reupholstered for their own second chance.  The homeowners’ unique stories are told here, too.  The 1840’s breakfront in the dining room is home to a collection of heirloom china teacups, given to the wife’s mother at her wedding shower.  Each guest arrived with a different teacup, creating a charmingly mismatched set that has been treasured for years.

dining room 2 In the master bedroom, an elaborately carved 19th Century bed from the West Indies blends effortlessly with contemporary lamps and white lacquered night tables.  There, seaglass colors soothe both body and mind.

master bedroom 3

Nantucket residents know our island is a fragile place. Climate change and stronger storms continue to buffet our shores, creating an uncertain future for seaside homes, wherever they face the waves.  In this house by the harbor, the owners have surely done their duty by their home, lovingly preserving it for years to come.

stormy ocean

All photography courtesy of Jeffrey Allen; visit his website here.

 

Your Sacred Space: Part Two of an Interview with Trudy and Women on Fire Founder Debbie Phillips

Debbie Phillips

This is part two of my interview with Debbie Phillips for Women on Fire, the group she founded to bring an amazing circle of fabulous women together for inspiration, strategies and support.  The following is a transcript of part two of our talk on Your Sacred Space:  How to Create an Inspired, Healthy Living Environment. Read Part One here

continued…

Trudy:  What I’m striving for is indoor air quality–whatever we put in that space.  And the only space you can really control is your own environment, your home, so that everything in there supports your health and wellbeing.

Debbie:  Right.  Well, I love that notion, and I’m sure that people listening are thinking, “Well, how can I control other environments?”  But like you said, we can control our homes.  We can also control our cars, and some of us can control our offices.  Is there any way, Trudy, to control other environments–short of wearing a mask?

Trudy:  I think a lot of it is education, and you know I’m big on that.  I’m always trying to promote how to support yourself at home through my blog and also in the lectures I do on The Holistic House.  People ask, “Where should I begin?”  Begin in the nursery because your baby is sleeping in there 20-24 hours a day and breathing in that air.  But your own bedroom needs to be almost like a bell jar–really clean and free of dust and dust mites.  Don’t have a lot of wall-to-wall carpeting because there is so much that gets trapped underneath there.

Debbie:  Really?

Trudy:  Oh, yes, microbial growth.  At least area rugs can be sent out and steam cleaned.

Debbie:  Interesting.  So choose hardwood floors and rugs over wall-to-wall carpet.

Trudy: Hardwood floors, tile floors, stone floors–those are the cleanest.  They are the easiest to keep clean and dust-free.  When people who are really allergic or who have asthmatic children come to me, I tell them to damp mop their floors–as if we have enough free time to do all this.  But try to damp mop floors twice a week.  It is believed that our livers detox somewhere between 2:00 and 4:00 a.m.  Your liver and your kidneys are really hard at work, so you want to sleep in a really clean environment so you’re not still taxing your system and your organs.

Debbie:  Trudy, I’ve seen those air filters that often can be bought at specialty stores.  is there any kind or a particular air filter that you would recommend?

Trudy:  As you know, I had such a struggle with chemical sensitivity.  I had to go through a two-year detox program, which was almost like being on chemotherapy.  It was really rough.  So I don’t want to see other people go through that.  The one filter that the environmental physicians–there are only 400 in the whole world; it is a very specialized group–like is the Austin HealthMate Plus.  And the reason for that, Deb, is that it has a HEPA filter in there to filter out particulates–dust, mold spores, animal dander, pollen in the spring.  But it also has zeolite in the carbon filtration, which filters out vapors such as car fumes.  If you have a garage that’s part of your house, car fumes can infiltrate and go right through all the little perforations into the house.  The Austin HealthMate Plus filters out all of that.  It will filter out and lower the VOCs from your furniture because all furniture finishes have VOCs.  So that’s the filter I swear by.

Debbie:  That’s great.  Is there a particular kind of mattress or pillow or bedding?  I know it should be from organic cotton, but is there any particular brand or style that you think is best?

Trudy:  There are so many out there, so I want to tell everybody:  Buyer beware.  Make sure you really go to someone who can say that a mattress is truly organic cotton or it’s truly organic wool because it has been certified.  I personally like a wool mattress that’s been tufted, and then I have it encased in organic cotton.  I get my physician to write me a prescription slip, so to speak, to give to the people making the mattresses, saying that i refuse to have it sprayed with fire retardant.  By law, they have to add fire retardant in case there is a smoker in bed and a cigarette is dropped.  But it’s a problem because the rest of us have to pay the price by sleeping on a bed immersed in that chemical, and you really don’t want that.

Debbie:  Wow.

Trudy:  The other thing you want to do–because dust mites and the little things they leave behind are what a lot of people are allergic to, especially asthmatic children–is to get an encasement, a completely zip-around mattress protector.  It’s not just a pad on the top, and it’s made out of barrier cloth.  That keeps out dust mites, bed bugs, all those things that can happen, and you are much safer.  Your pillow really shouldn’t be foam or anything made of a chemical.  it should be organic cotton or organic wool, again, in an organic-cotton encasement protector.

Debbie:  Is there anything around the waterproofing of a mattress pad?  Would that necessarily have chemicals in it?

Trudy: It could.  Until I look at the label, I wouldn’t know.  You have to be careful of chemicals, especially where you are sleeping at night.  That’s the one room to change.  People say, “I can’t afford to go through and change my whole house.”  And I completely relate to that. But try to make your bedroom as clean, organic and chemical-free as possible.  That’s the goal.

Debbie:  This is so helpful because one of the things Rob and I have done is to create a couple’s sanctuary, but we have not gone to this level. This is very inspiring.  I want to talk about something else that would potentially be a tip, Trudy, and that is because we are talking about an inspired environment with a strong emphasis on creating a healthy environment.  I want to tell you a quick little story.  When I met Rob, who is now my husband, he had this rule that one way to create a sacred environment was that all shoes were to be removed before entering the house.  it took me a little while to get used to that, but I have adopted his ways and I have to say that I love it.  And, Trudy, you are the only other person I’ve met who has a porch full of shoes. I wondered if that’s a rule at your house–a shoeless house–and is there a good reason for not wearing shoes in the house?

Trudy: Absolutely.  I think it’s sacred.  It’s respectful to remove your shoes, to not bring in all that stuff from the street.  Asians do that a lot.  But there is also a very scientific reason for it:  When we are walking around on the street, we are actually walking through viruses, bacteria, chemicals sprayed on the streets to melt ice, and all of that.  We walk through that, and we definitely don’t want to track it into the house.  People I’ve studied with have said that if you could make pesticides iridescent and if you used a black light on them, they would glow.  And if you had somebody walk through his yard after it was sprayed for ticks or mosquitoes or whatever and then you tracked him as he walked through the house, there would be footprints everywhere he went in the house.  So that’s your practical reason.  Let’s not bring all this inside.  My biggest pet peeve is pesticides, chemicals, insecticides, mildewcides, and all of that.  I understand the purpose of it and I know what people are trying to do, but I think the public doesn’t always know the horrible side effects of it.

Debbie:  Right.  It’s funny, but I wonder if you have had this experience:  both of our homes on Martha’s Vineyard and Naples are shoeless, but I still feel a little embarrassed asking people to remove their shoes. 

Trudy:  You know what I do?

Debbie:  What do you do?

Trudy:  I go to Rite Aid and buy the little cotton socklets in all sizes, and I leave them right there at the door because sometimes people don’t want to slip on slippers if they feel that somebody else’s feet have been in there.  I relate to that.

Debbie:  I do too.

Trudy:  So get a fresh, sealed bag of little socklets, and you can get the ones that the men don’t mind wearing.  They’re almost like the little things they give you in the hospital when you’re walking up and down the halls.  And that just covers it when they’re in your home, and they can choose their colors.  Then it becomes sort of fun.

Debbie:  What a great idea.  Thank you, Trudy.  That solves that problem.  What are some other ways to detox our homes or space?  And, by the way, I hear a lot about that.  People will talk about, “I’m going to clear or detox my space.”  Is there an appropriate way to clear and detox a home?

Trudy: The biggest thing is what you put in it.  Let’s say you’re painting.  There was some wonderful person who sent me an email this morning, “How do you choose your paint?” I wasn’t sure if she was asking about color or if she wanted to know how to choose a safe paint.  For the latter, the biggest thing you can do, if you know you have oil-based paint and you’r’e going to repaint, is to go to a low-or no-VOC–again, Volatile Organic Compound–water-based latex paint.  Oil paint is a petroleum product.  People say, “Oh, my house doesn’t smell anymore.  I painted it three months ago.”  If you could dye those VOCs purple, you would see that they go on forever.  It’s truly deleterious to your health.  It’s truly injurious.  It’s not good for your lungs.  It’s just not good for a lot of reasons.

Debbie:  Do the major paint companies make those or do you have to find a special company?

Trudy: They do.  And so you don’t have to spend a fortune for that.  If you don’t have a chemical sensitivity, you probably don’t have to go as far as I do with it for my own health.

Debbie:  You were referring to a question from Jill Dulitsky, from Vernon, Connecticut.  She asked, ‘We are redoing our house and making a much more open floor plan.  How do you choose paint?”

Trudy: I emailed her back so we will continue that discussion, for sure.

Debbie:  I don’t know whether she did mean color.  Melissa McClain from Seattle, Washington, is very into color, and we should just bring up the color issue since I’m not sure what Jill meant.  Melissa asks, “What is your philosophy on finding the perfect color for your home or room?”

Trudy:  It’s really client-driven.  After I sit and talk with clients, I get a feel for what they like.  I also give them a client questionnaire.  It’s long.  I ask them, “What are your favorite colors?  What colors do you hate?” I tell them to get five of the current shelter magazines and tear out pages and write on them, saying, “Trudy, I love this.  I hate that.” By the time we’ve spoken and they’ve filled that out and I look at their tear sheets, I have a good sense of what they would thrive in.  There has been a lot of research done on people who have thyroid issues, which I do.  They thrive with the color blue.  Well, it’s no surprise that I have a lot of blue in my houses.  That’s my house in Connecticut.  Debbie would love it.  It’s more taupe and white and the sandy colors.  And say people with stomach issues really resonate to the color orange.  So, basically, what I do is interview everybody and I find out what they love.  Sometimes they don’t even really know what they’re gravitating to, but I can see it.  I can see it formulating.  Then we get a little report back to them, and we sit down and start with color swatches.  Then I see what they respond to.

Debbie:  I love it.

Trudy:  They always reach out with their hand for the things they love.

Debbie:  Really?

Trudy:  Oh, yes.  If they don’t like anything, the hand doesn’t come forward.  When they see a color they love, the hand goes out and they start rubbing it.  I say, “Oh, that’s it!  That’s the one.  That one likes Sea Glass.  She likes that color.”

Debbie:  This is why you are the genius you are.  That is really great to know.  I know you love blue. All those blues are so beautiful on your site.  What color don’t you like?

Trudy:  You know, it used to be orange, but I’m in love with that color now.  When I was going to art school, I took a course at Yale.  It was a color study course.  It forced us to become neutral about color.  Most people don’t know this–I think you might, Deb–but I was a fine arts major, and I was a painter first.

Debbie:  I did know that.

Trudy:  I approach color in a whole different way.  I had a studio in Rowayton, Connecticut, on the water.  I’m always by the water, whether it’s a river, a lake, Long Island Sound, Nantucket Sound, whatever.  I did commission paintings, and I loved it.  I taught art for a while in Rowayton, and I taught at New Canaan High School.  I loved working with the high-school students.  I just loved that.  But it was too solitary for me when I was working in the studio.  I’d come home at night and I’d think, “I didn’t talk to anybody all day.”  So I found myself gravitating toward doing rooms, and I thought, “OK, now I have to get more information about this.”  So I went back to school at Parsons in New York.  I also did a lot of on-the-job training.  I had some wonderful mentors and teachers.  You can shift course midstream.

Debbie:  Yes, you can.

Trudy:  It’s OK to do a mid-course correction.

Debbie:  Well, as I always say, we’re stomping our perimeter.  We’re building on what our interests are.  Like the fact that you were two years old and you were sketching, and then you just continued to build on that to be the person you are and create the amazing environments that you do now.

Trudy: You know, Deb, I really thought when I was younger that I was just going to grow up and be an artist.  I didn’t know I was going to go into interior design.  It just evolved.  It was an evolutionary process.

Debbie:  Melissa McClain also asked the question, “Was there a defining moment where you knew you wanted to be a designer?”

Trudy: Yes.  It was in that studio.  I said, “You know what?  I want to work with people.  I want to make rooms that they feel good in.  I want to work with fabric.”  I just jumped in and started.  I didn’t have enough training yet, so I went back and got the training that I felt I needed.  But the best training I had, Deb, was on the job, watching other designers that I really admired.

Debbie:  Oh, I’m sure.  Trudy, believe it or not, our chats just go so quickly.  In the ten minutes or so that we have left, I want to give our women some other tips for creating an inspired environment.  Are there other things, in addition to the advice that if you start with any place start with your bedroom?  Did we answer the question about what’s he right way to go about detoxing a room?

Trudy:  There are different ways to detox a room.  From a spiritual level, I like using sage.  When I first had a house in Monomoy on the water on Nantucket, I knew a wonderful woman who was a minister.  I had her come over, and she brought some other people.  We said prayers to the north, the east, the south and the west.  We asked blessings from every direction, and that was a truly blessed house.  Wonderful.  That’s one way to detox–mentally, spiritually and emotionally.  The other detox method concerns the materials you are using.  Say you bought a piece of furniture from a place where they use a lot of particleboards in the middle, and the formaldehyde levels are off the wall.  You can even smell it.  It has that kind of stinky smell.  I would get that piece of furniture right out of the room immediately.  I would stick it down in the basement until it offgasses enough.  That’s one way to detox.

Now the truth is that formaldehyde probably never offgasses enough that it’s truly safe.  But to detox a room, you have to minimize whatever is toxic in it.  So if it’s the furniture, that’s one thing that goes.  If it’s an old chemical-sprayed rug, one that you’ve used a lot of retardants for stain and stuff on, you just have to get rid of that.  It’s time to roll it up.  What people forget is that, even with area rugs, the pad underneath is disintegrating over time.  We have a friend in New York who is being treated for leukemia.  He had a stem cell transplant, and they’re calling me for a lot of advice on how to detox the home.  The big thing they talked about was that they had all of the Oriental rugs taken to be steam cleaned.  No chemicals, just steam cleaned.  But it was the pads underneath that needed to be changed.  There was too much microbial growth.

Debbie:  Interesting.

Trudy: Get a new pad for under your rug.  There are a lot of simple things you can do.  You can put a coat of nontoxic paint on the walls.

Debbie:  You’re inspiring me.  There are some really simple things like that I need to do.  I think we’ve had the pads under our rugs for ten years.

Trudy:  There’s always time for a change!  We vacuum the rugs all the time and even have them shampooed from the surface.  But it’s best to roll them up and send them out to be steam cleaned.  And we never check that pad.  I’m guilty too.

Debbie:  Hey, Trudy, I always hear about mold and how that is really dangerous in a home.  Is there anything we can do about mold?

Trudy: The minute you have heat and moisture and darkness, you have a breeding ground for mold.  Mold needs all three.  You don’t see mold growing in bright sunlight.  You don’t see mold growing where there is no moisture, and you don’t see it growing where there is no heat.  So, if it’s freezing outside, you don’t see mold growing on the rocks or anything.  Mold and pesticides–those two are my pet peeves.  It is deleterious to your health.  They affect respiratory systems. Stachybotrys atra is one.  There were some fatalities in Long Island of infants who were in basement rooms that had been paneled, and there was stachybotrys atra growing on the sheetrock behind the paneling.

Debbie:  How do you test for mold?

Trudy: You can get kits.  You can order them online.  You put these little plates out, and then you collect them and send them off to a lab.  They will tell you if you have it or not.  You can also use a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH).  They are wonderful.  These guys are like doctors.  They are just amazing.  They have so much information, and they can come and check for you.  It’s truly like having people with doctoral degrees in all these chemicals and the molds.  They are very valuable.  I have one I use all the time:  Microecologies in New York.  I’ve known them for about 15 to 20 years, and I have a lot of trust and faith in them.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed it, Deb, but when I walk into a moldy house, it smells sweet to me.  Have you ever noticed that?  I can smell the mold or the mildew.

Debbie:  Well, you’re such a pro, Trudy.

Trudy: I don’t know if it’s being a pro or that I have such heightened smells from being chemically sensitive.  That’s one of the downfalls of being chemically sensitive.

Debbie:  And I’m just so glad that you’ve been able to recover.  One of the reasons is because you live in this holistic house.

Trudy:  Deb, there’s one last thing I wanted to say.  We’re probably getting close to the end.

Debbie:  We are.

Trudy:  I was so torn between just talking about how to make your home pretty and beautiful and talking about it being green and healthy.  Then I realized that I want the two to go together, hand in hand.  And that’s why I talk about “eco-elegant.”  I want the two to not be separate, but to be all one.

We focused on the “green” now, because let’s start with everybody’s health.  Their environment, their built-in environment, their home, or just their bedroom, if they can do only one room in the home, is truly supporting.  It’s their underpinning.

Debbie:  Yes.

Trudy:  It’s got their back, so to speak, and their heart, as (Woman on Fire) Agapi Stassinopoulos (author of Unbinding the Heart) would say.

Debbie:  That is a very beautiful way to put that.  And, you know, Trudy, you are such a part of Women on Fire, and I’m grateful for Women on Fire to have access to your wonderful work.  I could go on and on.  I’m grateful to have a woman like you.

Trudy: Thank you.  I am so honored to be a part of this interview.

_MG_0006 preferred headshot

 

 

 

 

A Nantucket Beach Nest

beach nest

The June 2013 issue of Connecticut Cottages & Gardens Magazine  features a new Dujardin-designed home on Nantucket!  Written by Jamie Marshall and photographed by longtime Dujardin friend Terry Pommet, the home is beautifully presented beginning on page 64.

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We created interiors with bright splashes of blue and Hermes orange in this six-bedroom, shingle -style cottage for a young family with two teenage daughters.  A short fifteen-minute walk to town, the new home was customized by Dujardin Design Associates from the studs up, including exquisite details such as the wood floor in the entry hall with its hand-painted Harlequin pattern. The rattan-wrapped dresser and table in the foyer are meant to evoke the Breakers in Palm Beach, circa 1950s.

entry hall vertical

Senior Designer Price Connors created custom built-ins and mahogany topped cabinets for easy storage throughout the home, including hideaway space in the bright and airy bedrooms.

master bedroom

The color palette is crisp and clean, with most walls painted white or ivory with bright white trim. We added interest with pops of color, such as this nautical rope border!

close up navy border

Color continues into all the bedrooms, including this lilac-themed room!

bedroom vertical

And this blue beauty!

blue bedroomSignature colors were added to the kitchen with stools and bistro chairs handwoven in France.

kitchen vertical

There’s an oriental influence in the dining room, with a pagoda-shaped tole chandelier above the glass dining table.  Gothic backed rattan dining chairs and a rattan bar cart add a classic touch.

dining room

The patio and garden continue the colorful palette, offering another glorious space to enjoy  summer on Nantucket.

patio 2

 

In the Days of Sailors and Scrimshaw

Dujardin_Mantle

Scrimshaw is the beautiful art form first practiced beginning in 1749, in the days of whaling ships, wizened sea captains and hardy sailors.  Whaling was a dangerous undertaking and could never be attempted at night, leaving sailors with free time on their hands.  They used it for carving elaborate pictures, lettering and scrollwork on the bones and teeth of sperm whales and the tusks of walruses and other marine animals. The work they left behind is a treasured collectible today. The extremely rare white tortoiseshell shown above is an early nineteenth century British scrimshaw, displayed in my home in Madaket.  The whaler’s handwork details ships, whales and equipment used in the seafaring life.

 

antique scrimshaw poker chips

antique scrimshaw poker chips

John F. Kennedy was an avid scrimshaw collector, and brought it back into fashion when he displayed his 37 piece collection in the oval office in the 1960s.  Today scrimshaw artists (called scrimshanders) can work with eco-friendly or man-made materials, including cow bones, antlers and ostrich eggs.

Scrimshaw

This 18th Century scrimshaw is carved from a whale tooth.

It’s impossible to write about the beauty of scrimshaw, though, without first acknowledging the damage being done to tusked animals today by poaching.  Where once a ship would set sail with its sights on a whale, and then use every part of the animal for meat, energy and art, there was not an understanding that the seas were a finite resource.

sea turtles

A sea turtle was once plentiful enough that the people of the 18th and 19th centuries could hardly imagine that that creature or any other would be endangered, and in need of protection.  Today, though, we are seeing a rapid decline of animals with tusks and horns, often slaughtered for just those parts of their anatomy and left to decompose.  Although antique scrimshaw is available for purchase and collecting, strict laws are now in place for animal protection. Elephant ivory has been protected since 1976, and is prohibited from being shipped into the United States or practically any other country in the world.

rhino  photo world resouces

Photo credit:  World Resources

Poaching continues, however. Rhinos are a threatened animal, under siege for their horns, used in Chinese medicine and particularly sought after in Vietnam.  Consumers use ground rhino powder as a health aid, although there is no supporting evidence that it has any impact. Poachers killed 668 rhinos in South Africa in 2012, a 50% increase over the previous year. The World Wildlife Fund estimates another 800 rhinos will die in 2013. To protect them, wildlife managers are injecting the horns of live rhinos with poison and permanent pink dye to make them useless to poachers.  Although the poison is not fatal, it will make anyone who consumes the powdered rhino horn ill with nausea and diarrhea.

anna merz and black rhino

Photo credit:  Boyd Norton, via Helped by Animals

Anna Merz, who died on April 4, 2013 in South Africa, started a reserve to protect her beloved black rhinos and became a global leader in the fight against their extinction.   She is shown in the photo above with the rhino she hand-raised as an orphaned baby, Samia.  Samia was devoted to Merz, and followed her everywhere, even trying to enter the house behind her before becoming stuck in the doorway.  When Samia gave birth to babies, she presented them to Merz like any proud mother.

Anti-poaching campaigns are underway worldwide, but more attention is needed to protect the earth’s precious resources.  Learn more about how you can help from The African Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, or Stop Rhino Poaching.

Gardening with Nature

garden

Someone once said that a garden (and lawn, for that matter) has very little to do with nature.  A walk through the woods is proof that wild vegetation is opportunistic and provides only the toughest competitors with space, sunlight and nutrients.  By contrast, we fill our garden with tender annuals and plants that have gone through multiple hybridizations until they bear little resemblance to their original form. Add to that that we prefer our lawns and gardens weed free, carefully edged and mulched, and there’s a sharp divide between a wild meadow and suburban landscaping.

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The real difference, however, is our dependence on chemical pesticides, herbicides and fungicides to keep our properties looking as nature never intended.  The best way to create a garden fit for children and pets is to make it a sanctuary for life:  bees buzzing through the flowers, trees brimming with nests and berries, and soft grass that’s safe for bare feet.

growso image

Lawn and garden chemicals are poisons to living things.  They pollute our water, harm wildlife and interrupt the delicate balance of our eco-system.  100 million pounds of lawn care chemicals are used by homeowners on their lawns every year.  These include chemicals that kill weeds, insects and a variety of plant diseases.  Many of these chemicals are linked to cancer, birth defects, and liver or kidney damage.  There is a way to have a healthy lawn and garden without resorting to chemicals, however.  Here are three simple steps you can take right away:

  • Healthy soil = 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.
  • Use corn gluten as an 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.

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Worried about fleas and ticks?  Here are four ways to combat these pests without toxic chemicals:

  • Use Natural Flea and Tick Controls on Your Companion Animals: Look for Buck Mountain Parasite Dust, available only through veterinarians and pet stores.  Its active insecticide is a chemical derived from the Neem tree, which is both a repellant and provides disinfectant and healing properties.  A favorite pet store is Earth Animal, which offers a three step process for natural flea and tick control.  Learn more here.
  • Reduce the tick habitat naturally:  Ticks like moist and shady areas, so let in more sunlight.  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.
  • 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.
  • Put up Deer Fencing to stop “tick buses:”  A single deer can be host to more than 200 ticks, so by removing their hosts, you reduce the number of ticks.

Here’s Where to Learn More

Earth

We’re all connected to each other and to every living thing.  The earth is one planet, with air and ocean currents that ignore international boundaries and continents that are impervious to lines drawn on a map.  On a much smaller level, the chemicals you use on your lawn and garden do not stay on your property.  It’s up to each one of us to research and find less-toxic solutions to our pest problems.  You can start here:

  • Integrated Pest Management:  IPM is an environmentally sensitive approach that suppresses pest populations and reduces use of pesticides.  It’s a safer means of controlling pests, with an emphasis on control, not eradication.  IPM holds that wiping out an entire pest population is impossible and environmentally unsafe.  Natural biological processes provide control with minimal environmental impact.  That may mean using beneficial insects that eat target pests, or biological insecticides, derived from nature. The EPA has more information:  read it here.
  • Bio-Integral Resource Center:  BIRC is a nonprofit organization that offers leadership in the development of IPM methods.  BIRC works with homeowners, farmers, cities, park and water districts, schools and pest control professionals in pesticide use reduction.  Visit their website here. 
  • Two books to add to your library:  Common Sense Pest Control, by William Olkowski and Sheila Daar, and Less Toxic Alternatives, by Carolyn Gorman.

book Common Sense Pest Controlbook Less Toxic Alternatives

 

Health Begins in the Kitchen

“The cure for what ails us both in our bodies and in our nation can be found in the kitchen. It is a place to rebuild community and connection, strengthen bonds with family and friends, teach life-giving skills to our children, enrich and nourish our bodies and our souls. Yet, in the twenty-first century, our kitchens (and our taste buds) have been hijacked by the food industry. In 1900 only 2 percent of meals were eaten outside of the home; today that number is over 50 percent.”

That quote comes from a brand new book, The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook, by Mark Hyman, MD.  Dr. Hyman is a family physician, a four time New York Times bestselling author, and is a recognized leader in the field of Functional Medicine:  a way to empower people to stop managing symptoms and instead treat the underlying causes of illness.  He is responsible for coining the phrase “diabesity,” to describe an American population beset by weight gain, diabetes or pre-diabetes.


Dr. Mark Hyman, author of The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook

The right diet is not the same for everyone; for instance, I feel best when I follow a sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free diet, as espoused by Dr. Hyman in his new cookbook.  Although the regimen you follow may differ, what is clear is that we must give up on dependence on fat, sugar and salt pumped into factory-made foods.  Dr. Hyman encourages us to take back our kitchens, and our food, and start cooking real meals, made from real ingredients.  His cookbook, just released, offers wonderful recipes to help us do just that.

He tells us:  “We are brainwashed into thinking that cooking real food costs too much, is too hard, and takes too long. Hence, we rely on inexpensive convenience foods. But these aren’t so convenient when we become dependent on hundreds of dollars of medication a month, when we can’t work because we are sick and fat and sluggish, or when we feel so bad we can’t enjoy life anymore.”

Preparing a meal from scratch, by contrast, can be a chance to reconnect with our spouse, children or aged parents.  Sharing that meal can be a ceremony, a ritual, a mindful observance of what matters most in the midst of a hectic life.  That is what a kitchen is designed for, and is its ultimate and most meaningful purpose.

Another book I have found useful on my way to more healthful eating is Forks Over Knives, edited by Gene Stone, which proposes that most, if not all, degenerative diseases can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods.  Forks Over Knives:  The Plant-Based Way to Health is a book, a cookbook, and a film available on DVD or Blu-ray.  You can learn more from the website and blog found at www.forksoverknives.com. 
forks_knives
There are other books, other cookbooks and other ways to preserve health, but there has been an overwhelming concensus from the nutrition and diet industry that fruits and vegetables are woefully lacking in our diets, and that increasing the amount we eat is the optimal path back to health.  Choosing organically-grown foods makes sense, as does eating animal protein as a condiment, not an entree, if you choose to retain meat in your diet.
An excellent source of organically-grown vegetables, if you live on Nantucket, is Pumpkin Pond Farm. This  9.5 acre farm and nursery located at 25 Millbrook Road owned by Marty McGowan is Eden-like oasis of color and flavor, offering a wide variety of delicious vegetables and greens.

My passion is helping my clients create beautiful and healthy homes, so I am often called upon to design extraordinary kitchens.  This is the place where nutritious, organic meals are prepared and enjoyed by family and friends, and so it is, truly,  the very heart of the home.

As Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma said, “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”  That’s good advice.  I intend to follow it.  I hope you do, too.

Basket Case

There is a special kind of beauty in handmade items, particularly those that have stood the test of time.  I have long been a collector of things old and venerable, and love the part I play in keeping and protecting them.  Perhaps it is the rushed nature of time in our lives today that draws so many of us to collectibles such as baskets,  created by people with physically harder days but longer empty hours.

 

The baskets I love are Nantucket Lightship baskets, crafted by the calloused hands of sailors, sea-toughened men whiling away wet and salt-sprayed hours on a ship that rolled and dipped with the pitch of the ocean beneath it.  The baskets that survive are precious now, perhaps all the more so because once they were not.

When they were new, they held bread and sewing and berries gathered from the hedge beside the cottage.  They were made by men who worked hard with their hands, and used by people who did the same.

 

cottage photo courtesy of Nantucket Preservation Trust

Today, Lightship Baskets are a collectible treasure so valued on Nantucket Island that they have a museum dedicated to them. Located at 49 Union Street, the Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum is dedicated to the island’s rich history of basket making, as well as a nod to the history of the Lightships.

In the 19th Century, Lightships were sentinels stationed at dangerous off-shore shoals, warning others in the waters of treacherous shipwreck sites.  The first lightship was stationed at Nantucket’s South Shoal on June 15th, 1854.

Whale oil supplied the warning lamps in early years, seen at most at a distance of a few miles on a clear night, far less when the weather turned grey and stormy. Nantucket Lightship crewmen were basket makers for diversion from boredom, as well as a way to earn extra income.

photo courtesy of Wikipedia

It was after 1900 that work on the the baskets moved off ships and onto the island.  In the late 1940s, Jose Formoso Reyes, one of the foremost basket makers of his time, created the “Friendship Basket,” a cane woven basket with a lid and a carved ivory whale mounted on top.  It is the model for the popular handbags sold today.

very early basket by Jose Reyes

In my many years as a Nantucket Islander, I have frequently found myself unable to resist these treasured baskets.  My collection was written about in a blog post that you can read at Connecticut Cottages & Gardens.

My Madaket living room; Lightship basket on table.  Photo courtesy of Terry Pommett

My kitchen in Connecticut, Lightship basket on island; photo courtesy of Durstan Saylor

Perhaps this post will inspire you to start a basket collection of your own, or to find the space to display with grace and reverence the ones you already own.  We are so blessed to live in a world where such treasures can be found.

 

Lightship basket collection displayed on built in shelves; photo courtesy of Terry Pommett

The World as Jinsey Dauk Sees It

Part Two in an Occasional Series on My Favorite Artists


If you’ve ever wondered what a bee sees when he’s buried deep within the folds of a flower, surrounded by color and bemused by fragrance, then you shouldn’t miss the fine art photography of Jinsey Dauk.   An artist with an eye for the smallest of sensuous details, Jinsey uses a camera to capture what’s most miraculous about life.  Then she presents her vision to all of us who are hurrying past a frisson of flowers or a riot of raindrops without really seeing them at all.

Jinsey’s love for photography began early. As a very young girl, when a friend of her mother’s became ill with leukemia, she picked up a Minolta camera for the first time to take pictures of the woman’s son.  An innate talent for seeing the world in striking detail was quickly apparent.  Jinsey captured the boy leaping with a basketball in his hands, sunlight in his eyes, and his mother posted the photos around her hospital room.  Soon visitors and friends were asking who took the photos, and her career began, first by taking black and white portraits of children for whom she babysat.

Fast forward a couple of decades.  Jinsey spent time working as a Ford and Elite model, then launched a career as a documentary-style wedding and portrait photographer, primarily in black and white, before turning her camera toward the beauty of nature in full, glorious color.

Once again, serendipity intervened in her life.  She began simply, by photographing flower arrangements on the sunlit windowsills of her Tribeca apartment to thank the friends who had sent them; before long, those friends were insisting she create large-scale art pieces and offer them for sale.  From that point, she branched out into shooting more than flowers, and she quickly gained a following.

Today, Jinsey’s work is available as metallic prints, without frames, pressed under a quarter inch of plexiglass.  Although many collectors prefer the large version, and collect them as diptychs, triptychs or quadtychs, (sometimes even as a series of six), Jinsey happily custom-sizes her pieces to fit a particular space in home, office or boutique hotels. She is also happy to work on commissioned pieces and will travel to photograph whatever a client chooses, whether it’s a beloved rose garden or another cherished item.

Using macro lenses and micro filters from the 1960’s and blending those techniques with today’s sophisticated digital photography is how she creates her work, but it doesn’t begin to explain her vision.  She describes her first foray into photographing flowers as a journey she undertook, albeit one with camera in hand.

“I traveled through those flowers and ferns and bouquets, traveled through a whole different universe.  Each turn of my focusing ring was escaping into another world,” she says.  “Photography changes me.  It’s a private experience.  I’m six foot one, but in this world I’m all scrunched down, into something the size of a thumbnail.  Every single one of my senses gets touched upon when I photograph something. I hope that viewers of my work will have the same experience.”

Jinsey grew up in Rowayton and Darien, Connecticut.  Her mother still lives in Darien,  in a matriarchal home owned first by her mother’s grandmother, then her mother’s mother, and now it belongs to her mother.  Jinsey’s photographs hang in rooms that overlook Long Island Sound, next to traditional, older oil paintings that have been in the family home since the turn of the last century.

“My art mixes so well with those old paintings,” Jinsey explains. Perhaps it’s the constantly shifting colors of the ocean outside the windows, or the way the light falls on the nature-infused colors of Jinsey’s work, but her photographs transcend a single definition.  She’s proud to see her work hang in offices and homes with many different styles.

Erika Del Priore, of Erika Del Priore Interiors, describes her work like this:  ” The colors, while bright, recede into the photo – pulling us in. Once in, colors and shadows reveal small nooks and passages that take us … I don’t know where, but it is warm and calm.”

Warm is the way to describe Jinsey, too.  She’s enthusiastic, outgoing and the kind of person you feel like you’ve known forever.  When renowned photojournalist Andre Kertesz said that “you don’t see things you photograph, you feel them,” he could have been talking about Jinsey. Jinsey says she is inspired by his work, as well as the black and white photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau and George Brassai; her color inspiration comes from Georgia O’Keeffe, Paul Gaugin, Henri Rousseau, and images from her own work.

Whoever’s work inspirits and inspires Jinsey, she’s always an artist who sees things her own way. Jinsey creates her pieces to embody the feeling of flow and fluidity, which is why she presents her work not only as individual pieces, but as a series.  According to a friend and client, her pieces create connections through “color, form, light, eyes and smiles.”  It’s the world as Jinsey sees it, and we’re lucky to share the view.

To contact Jinsey Dauk Fine Art Photography, call 212-243-0652, email Jinsey at info@JinseyArt.com, or visit her website at www.JinseyArt.com. An installation of 21 metallic fine art prints with rotating images is available for viewing in a beautiful Tribeca office space.  Call to schedule an appointment.  Scroll down for more of Jinsey’s work.


Celebrating the Twinkling Season

I love the holidays, and one of my favorite tasks of the year is creating festive interiors for my clients.  This is truly the twinkling season, and time for making magic in every room of the house.  In this home, featured in this month’s ONLY Nantucket Magazine, we used fresh greens for garlands and wreaths, dressed seven full-sized, themed trees matched to each room’s decor, and embellished with mistletoe and holly, little white lights and gauzy bows!

Come along with me and take a look at the little details that add up to a lot of holiday cheer.  I hope you’ll be inspired to create your own unforgettable winter charm!

A grand display of red roses in a clear crystal box is always eye-catching and elegant, especially when combined with candlelight.

Formal columns have become whimsical candy canes, white hydrangeas grace the cocktail table from John Boone, boxwood tucked into antique garden urns make a festive hearth.

A Christmas tree bedecked in gold and silver gleams in the corner of the music room.  Wreaths tied with gauzy pale green ribbon adorn each and every window, and exotic white and green fringed Parrot Tulips, unusual for Christmas, strike just the right note in the elegant gathering space.  The Rose Tarlowe ottoman is perfectly placed for guests to sit and enjoy a sing-along, underneath a chandelier graced with evergreens.

A rock crystal chandelier sparkles above a table with the spirit of the homeowners’ beloved Nantucket:  white hydrangeas and red winter branches are a celebration of the island’s simple beauty.  The mantle is gloriously layered with evergreens, ribbons and stars; a stocking hangs by the hearth, waiting for St. Nicholas.

The kitchen has another candy cane column for a punch of gaiety; glass hurricanes on the counter are filled with little crab and lady apples.  A five-tiered gift box cake is waiting for guests to arrive:  there’s a party planned this evening!

The stairwell leading to the master bedroom suite is a feast for the senses:  fragrant cedar, spruce and boxwood swags are wrapped in ribbons; a single silver ball dangles from the sumptuous crystal chandelier custom-designed by Dujardin Design Associates.

A delicious tray of holiday confections add the sweetness of sugar and spice to the homeowners’ celebration: this couple blends their backgrounds and heritage in style, embracing both Christmas and Hannukah.

Whatever holiday you embrace, make it your own season of abundance and grace!  And remember to make it merry.  If you’re on Nantucket, look for the December issue of ONLY Nantucket for more of this holiday home!

 

Autumn in Connecticut

photo courtesy of Michael Passarello

 Dear Readers,

This post was written before the devastation of Hurricane Sandy across the northeast.  The beauty of fall is one side of the story; storms and dangerous weather are also part of life in Connecticut, and throughout the world.  I invite you to join me in a look at the gentler side of Autumn, even as we keep those still without power or homes in our thoughts.  I’m making a donation to the Red Cross today.  I encourage you to do whatever you can to help restore our communities.

Autumn is such a beautiful season.  My friend Michael Passarello sent me some wonderful pictures he’s taken, and it inspired me to share the beauty of Connecticut with all of you. Come join me on a virtual walk through the countryside I love, and let’s enjoy the beauty of a Fall day together!

 

japanese maple leaves; photo courtesy of Michael Passarello

“Autumn is a second spring, where every leaf is a flower.”  –Albert Camus

autumn hydrangea; photo courtesy of Michael Passarello

“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.”–William Cullen Bryant

stewarthia; photo courtesy of Michael Passarello

“Autumn burned brightly, a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees.”  –Faith Baldwin

photo courtesy of Michael Passarello

“Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers, we more than gain in fruits.”–Samuel Butler

photo courtesy of Michael Passarello

“The morns are meeker than they were, the nuts are getting brown; the berry’s cheek is plumper, the rose is out of town.  The maple wears a gayer scarf, the field a scarlet gown.  Lest I should be old-fashioned, I’ll put a trinket on.” –Emily Dickinsen

“Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”–George Eliot

You can’t celebrate autumn without enjoying its wonderful foods.  My husband, Frank, makes a delicious pumpkin tart:  it’s gluten free, sugar free and lactose-free!

  Here’s the recipe.  We call it:

Frank’s Amazing Gluten-free, Lactose-free, Sugar-free Pumpkin Tart

(that makes its own crust!)

Do it all right in the blender!

First of all, all ingredients must be organic.  No pie crust needed – it makes its own thin crust – more like a souffle.

Place in blender:

  • 1 can 16 oz. organic pumpkin
  • 1 can or 13oz. either organic unsweetened evaporated milk or organic Rice Milk or Almond Milk (Amasake) – each one gives a different consistency
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 2 teaspoons organic vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons organic pumpkin pie s pice mix (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup sugar OR 2 teaspoons local organic honey –which we prefer (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup of organic rice flour

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Lightly butter a pie plate. (We use Earth Balance–an organic buttery spread that’s gluten-free, vegan, lactose-free, expeller-pressed oil)

Put all the above ingredients –except rice flour– in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Gradually add 1/2 cup of organic rice flour to the blender mix until absorbed – can add more if consistency is too thin.  Pour into pie plate.  Bake until golden brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 50 – 55 minutes.  Refrigerate any remaining pie.

Enjoy!

 

Photo credit:  Michael Passarello is a writer, photographer, greenhouse consultant and all around nice guy, living in the woods in North Stamford in Hedy Lamar’s old house.  You can reach Michael to inquire about his photographs at zylvert@gmail.com.

Thank you, Michael!

Hurricane Sandy, Connecticut Coast, October 29, 2012



The Sea-Worthy Artwork of Michael Keane

Update to this post: Michael F. Keane, Jr. died unexpectedly on March 28, 2015. The following tribute comes from Quidley & Company Fine Art, a gallery that had been home to the artist and his artwork for many years.

“For the past three decades, Michael brought joy to those who viewed his artwork. His serene and luminous marine paintings portrayed the warmth of summer days spent sailing on Nantucket Sound. Keane had the remarkable ability to transport a viewer: to gaze at one of Michael’s beautiful and obviously lovingly wrought images is to imagine yourself cruising on the open sea–whether on a striped sail Beetle Cat or a majestic J-Class yacht–it’s the next best thing to actually being out there.” 

I hope you enjoy a look at some of Michael’s lovely, peaceful work. His contribution to the art world will never be forgotten. 

Rainbow Run

Part One in an Occasional Series on My Favorite Artists

I love the play of light on sand and sea on Nantucket Island.  It inspires artists here just as the light in the South of France has inspired so many of my favorite artists for centuries; the sunlight shimmers and sparkles in a way that is magical to observe, and I am in awe of those talented painters who can capture it on canvas.

Off Boston Harbor

One of those painters is famed marine artist Michael Keane.  A dear friend for years, and a fine arts painter for over half a century, Michael’s work is eagerly sought after by collectors.  His shows are an established tradition here on Nantucket, where people who love to sail and love the sea appreciate the special affinity he has for painting the world of waves and wind.

The Mighty Twelves

Truly a Renaissance man with so many interests and skills I can’t keep track of them all, Michael’s career as a painter was never pre-ordained.  When it was time for college, although he had painted since childhood, his father insisted he attend a teacher’s college instead of art school, hoping to see his son gainfully employed.  But Michael hated it, and he worked instead at a number of mundane and laborious jobs, including time spent in factories, as an auto mechanic and at a shipyard.

Determined to be an artist, though, he served an eight year apprenticeship with noted landscape painter, Edward Harrigan, and a four year apprenticeship with noted marine artist Marshall W. Joyce.  After that, he studied for four years, and then taught portraiture and figure painting with Clemente Micarelli in his studio.  He majored in Visual Design at UMass and afterward taught painting for 17 years.

Blue Horizon

His break into the art world came with a Best in Show award at a Duxbury, Massachusetts art show.  The painting entered there began a new life for Michael, at a time when he desperately needed it.  In poor health from a rheumatic illness, he was unable to summon the strength to continue his physically demanding day job.

He went to his favorite place on Duxbury Beach, and as he describes it, “Everything was going all wrong.  As I stood there, the sky turned black, and it started to hail and rain.  As I looked across the sea, all of a sudden the light broke through.  It raced across the land in a splash of color.  I knew this was a transcendent moment; I felt I was being told to ‘paint this.’”

The Squall at Gurnet Head

He did quick color notes, which became the inspiration for his painting The Squall at Gurnet Head.  After that, things turned sharply around. Everything he painted flew off the wall.  “It was providential,” he says.  “It all happened when things couldn’t get any lower; it felt like a dream.  Things happened the way they needed to happen, when they needed to happen.”

A Twilight Sail

In explaining his creative process, Michael says he loses all sense of time and space when he works.  “I once did a big painting in less than a week—I felt like I didn’t paint it.  I held the brush, and the brush just went.  As an artist, I’m wide open to what I’m receiving.  It’s a sensitive thing.”

Off Nantucket

People have always been drawn to his work, and although he doesn’t understand all the reasons, he thinks it may be related to the reason that he paints.  “Art should elevate life,” he says.  “That’s the whole point of it.  Fine art should express higher ideals.  We get enough in life to pull us down, art should lift us up.

“Like good music, art lifts you, it changes you, it alters your state of consciousness,” he continues.  “That’s what exhilaration is.”

The Last Trap

Everyone who knows Michael, who loves his work, and who buys his paintings, tells him the same thing.  “They tell me they look at the sky now—they say, ‘you made me look at the sky.’”

I can’t imagine a higher elevation for art, or an artist, than that.

“There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky.” –Victor Hugo

You can find Michael Keane’s artwork at Quidley and Co. Galleries in Boston and Nantucket, Massachusetts, and at Russell Jinishian Galleries in Fairfield, Connecticut.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I Send Thee a Shell from the Ocean-Beach”

Clients often ask me where I get my inspiration for the colors and textures for the rooms I design.  The world outside my door is a constant source of inspiration, especially the sea. (Read an earlier post on my color inspiration here.) I also love to read, and my library is full of beautifully illustrated books that fill my hands and my heart when I can’t be on my beloved Nantucket.

It’s no secret that I have always loved seashells; the logo for my company is a Nautilus shell, a beautiful example of what is called a golden spiral (also known as a logarithmic spiral).   Choosing the Nautilus shell was not accidental:  it perfectly represents a profession where proportion and balance are key to achieving a pleasing design.  We may not need to understand the science behind a masterfully (and mathematically) balanced design, but we are naturally drawn to elegant and balanced compositions, repeatedly found in nature.

This is a close-up photograph of a spiral palm leaf.

The concept of what makes the proportions of the chambers of a Nautilus shell so beautiful is explained by something called The Fibronacci series, often referred to as nature’s numbering system.  It is displayed to perfect effect in the bracts of a pinecone, the heart of a sunflower, the scales of a pineapple, a grain of wheat, a hive of bees, the spiral palm, and even in the proportions of the human body. Leonardo Da Vinci portrayed this concept with his sketch of Vitruvian Man.

Many architects and artists have proportioned their work according to geometric principles known as the golden rectangle, the golden mean and the golden ratio, aesthetically pleasing proportions found over and over again in nature, in stems of plants and veins in leaves, and of course, in seashells such as the Nautilus.

In a golden rectangle, the smaller rectangle is the same shape as the larger rectangle, in other words, their sides are proportional. The curved design of the chambered nautilus shell and the ratios between each of the spirals reveal the fascinating connection between nature, geometry and architecture.  Read more here.

A staircase in the Padula Charthouse, a monastery in Southern Italy, founded in 1306.

Each single shell represents the world of nature’s intricate and mysterious designs, and is a work of art in itself. It is no wonder their shapes are frequently mirrored in our homes and lasting pieces of architecture.

Spiral staircase in an old mansion.

I frequently place shells where they can be seen and admired, especially in beachside homes. In case you’re looking for a little inspiration yourself, here are two seashell books you might find on my coffee table if you were to visit:

 

The World’s Most Beautiful Seashells won the Coffee Table Book Award of the National Association of Independent Publishers for 1996. Filled with stunning pictures by photographer James H. (Pete) Carmichael, who is especially well-known for his work with shells, butterflies, and rainforests, the wonderfully-written text is by Leonard Hill, a lifetime shell enthusiast, and a biologist employed by the US government who monitors the health of the oceans.

If you’ve ever come home from the beach with a pocket full of seashells, then this book was written just for you! Written by Marlene Hurley Marshall,  it’s filled with inspiring ideas of all the wonderful things you can do with your beachy treasures. Frames, chandeliers,  boxes, mirrors:  they can all be enhanced with memories of your time spent seaside.

 

“I send thee a shell from the ocean-beach;
But listen thou well, for my shell hath speech.
Hold to thine ear
And plain thou’lt hear
Tales of ships.”

Source, Listening to seashells
Charles Henry Webb, With a Nantucket Shell, reported in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).

Guest Post: Adrienne Sprouse, MD, Talks about ADD

From Trudy:  “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to share the thoughts of Dr. Adrienne Sprouse as a guest blogger.  Dr. Sprouse has dedicated herself to the field that saved her life:  Environmental Medicine.  After being diagnosed with Chemical Sensitivity and successfully treated, she was accepted to eleven medical schools at the age of 37, and chose Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, graduating with multiple awards.

In 1995, she opened New York City’s first chemical-free environmental medicine center, treating patients made ill from environmental factors.  She has appeared on ABC News, NBC News, New York One and The Tony Brown Show, as well as serving as the Environmental Specialist for Fox Good Day New York. She has been an important part of my own journey to good health.”

A.D.D.:  Psychiatric Illness or Medical Problem in Disguise?

Children and adults who suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder usually have one or more of these symptoms: inattention,hyperactivity, poor impulse control, poor school performance, social impairment, and low motivation.  However, these troublesome symptoms can also be caused by several medical problems.

Medical Illnesses Mimicking ADD

Several medical conditions cause symptoms similar to ADD.  These medical conditions include:

  • nutritional deficiencies
  • food allergies
  • inhalant allergies
  • sensitivities to chemicals
  • heavy metal exposure
  • hormonal imbalances
  • medication reactions
  • seizures, etc.

 

If You Are Having Behavioral Problems, Please Consider the Following:

Do you have a nutritional abnormality?

The body needs certain vitamins, minerals, fatty acids,carbohydrates, and amino acids to work correctly.  If one or more of these vital nutrients is low or abnormally elevated, behavior changes can follow.  It is possible to measure your body’s levels for these important nutrients and then tailor a nutritional program to your specific needs.

Do you have a hormonal abnormality?

Thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormones play key roles in body metabolism.  An abnormality in any of these hormones can cause inattentiveness and a depleted mood.  Many chemicals in the environment today are hormone disruptors and can alter the performance of hormones in your body.  A thorough hormonal assessment can identify abnormalities and a corrective plan can be designed.

Do you have food allergies?

Symptoms of food allergy include irritability, itchy eyes, abdominal bloating, headache, sleepiness after a meal, bed wetting, recurrent ear infections (esp. in children) sinus infections, and behavior changes.  Treating food allergies can bring significant relief.

Do you have inhalant allergies?

The following inhalants have been documented to cause illness:  molds, pollen, trees, grasses, flowers, dust, cats, dog, and cockroach.  Identifying and treating your inhalant allergies can go a long way toward returning you to good health.

Do chemical exposures make you sick?

Toxic chemicals abound in our environment and often go unsuspected as a cause of illness.  Any one (or more) of the following chemicals or items can make you ill:  your gas stove, commercial cleaning products, air fresheners, new carpeting, perfumes, paint and varnish, personal care products, new computers, cigarette smoke, copier fumes, pesticides, etc.

Where Chemicals Are Stored

After chemicals enter our bodies, they circulate through the bloodstream to all parts of our bodies…even our brains.  In fact, many of these chemicals are fat soluble and get stored in the body’s fat.  After chemicals enter your body, they will find that fat which then will serve as a reservoir for dangerous toxins and become a staging ground for toxic illness.  Only proper diagnosis followed by individualized treatments to remove those substances will reduce your chemical load.

Clearing Chemicals From the Body

Chemicals already in the body are not likely to leave on their own.  So if you can, avoid them.  But if you can’t or didn’t, you have to remove them.   To remove them, we’ve got to assist the one organ in our body that is the command center for clearing and fighting our war against toxic chemicals:  the liver.  Through a process called detoxification, your chemical load can be reduced.

Phase I liver detoxification results in the modification of reactive  chemicals  by a series of chemical reactions like oxidation, reduction, etc.  Big words, but let it go as the first internal “scrub down.”

Phase II liver detoxification may follow Phase I reactions or may proceed independently.   Here, the liver maximally converts fat-soluble substances to water-soluble substances, facilitating their excretion from the body.  Look at Phase II as the “flush.”

To accelerate the detoxification process, a combination of selected nutrients and amino acids are given to the patient along with an in-center heat detoxification program.  This program contributes to the reduction of the total body chemical burden, and the eventual reduction or disappearance of symptoms.

Summary

Allergy, malnutrition, hormonal abnormalities, and toxicity arereversible causes of behavior problems. Those with allergies are often misdiagnosed with ADD.  Look for the underlying causes of your ADD.  The right treatment can make all the difference!

Learn more about Dr. Sprouse and her work at www.passionandpoison.com.

The Green on Nantucket

Nantucket Island abounds with beautiful beaches, charming cottages, incredible inns and fabulous food.  Picking a favorite anything is almost impossible here, but there are a few places that I return to again and again.

The Green Restaurant at 6 West Creek Road is one of those special places.

I’m a firm believer that food should both taste good and make you feel good, and every time I go to the Green I am reminded that they believe that, too.  They offer healthy, organic and naturally delicious dishes, such as cranberry walnut chicken salad with scallions, baby arugula and brown rice.

Or crumbled goat cheese with sliced fresh strawberries, candied pecans, sliced avocado, balsamic vinaigrette, arugula and brown rice.

There are vegan cookies, such as oatmeal cranberry, or a vegan flourless chocolate raspberry pie.  I’m getting hungry just thinking about them!

Open for breakfast and lunch, some people say they have the best coffee and bagels on the island.  You can get everything fresh:  fresh smoothies, fresh juice from their juice bar, and other healthy offerings such as shots of wheat grass to boost your immune system.  If you’re off to the beach for the day, they’ll pack you a custom lunch bag full of goodies.

It’s a great place to go for healthy food you’ll love—the kind of food that loves you right back.

 

 

Textile Artist Richard Killeaney

Richard Killeaney with the quilt that lauched Ocheltree Design, created from men’s striped dress shirts.

One of the things I love in life is a person who finds the courage to follow their passions, sometimes right into a flourishing business.  Textile designer Richard Killeaney is one of those people.  A love for fabrics led him to an MFA in Textiles at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).  Today, in addition to teaching Textiles to Fashion Design students at The Art Institute of New York City and Interior Design students at Fairfield University, in Fairfield, Conn., he operates his own home accessories company, Ocheltree Design.

This coverlet is made from recycled shirts, commercially produced fabrics, and an organic flannel lining.

He says his motivation came from his grandmother.  Richard’s grandmother collected quilts and needlework, and passed her treasures along to him when he learned how to sew. He began quilting at the age of 15, made his first bed quilt at the age of 18, and continued to make fine art quilts and art clothing as an undergrad.  At RISD, after creating a quilt made from recycled men’s blue and white striped dress shirts, his master’s thesis was a collection of five bedcoverings.

Missing the Point quilt, inspired by Killeaney’s native California, made from recycled shirts and organic batting and backing.

He began making Harris Tweed wool into pillows, cashmere sweaters into soft-to-the-touch baby blankets, and recycled leather into handsome tote bags.  His motivation is saving beautiful fabrics (he’s crazy for mohair), and keeping unwanted clothing from landfills through creative recycling.

This trio of pillows is made from recycled wool tweed and sequined silk.

His pillows are filled with 100% kapok, a natural fiber harvested from trees.  He selects color grown cotton, an organic cotton that is available naturally in earthy browns, greens and unbleached whites.  Although the quilt fronts are not always organic since they are made from recycled clothing, he prefers organic and unbleached fabrics and uses them whenever possible.

Baby blanket made from recycled cashmere sweaters.

“There are dangers in putting dyed fabrics into landfills. Even natural fibers, if dyed with certain chemicals or pigments, will leach toxins into the soil,” he explains.  A vegetarian, Richard has taken his love for fabrics and combined it with a reverence for the earth.  It’s a beautiful combination.

Tote bag made from recycled leather and cotton chino.

See more of Richard’s work at:

www.ocheltreedesign.com

www.etsy.com/shop/Ocheltree

ocheltreedesign.tumblr.com/

Portrait courtesy of Caroline Valites.

Quilt photography courtesy of Cathy Carver.

All other photography courtesy of Richard Killeaney.

 

 

 

 

 

The Most Famous (and Expensive) House on Nantucket Today

Each of the homes I’ve designed and decorated over the years holds a special place in my heart.  My memories include each home’s unique location and the vistas that surround it, the way the light slants into the rooms, its architecture and elegant features (or the design plans that created columns, fireplaces and cornices exactly where they needed to be), as well as the time I spent working with the home’s owners.  So often, a working relationship begins with a blueprint, and ends in a friendship.

A home that has catapulted to fame in the news (recently featured in both Forbes Magazine and the Boston Globe) is the Russell Phelon estate on Nantucket.  When Mr. Phelon purchased the home on 69 acres in 1997, he intended it as a family get-away.  Known on the island as the Swain’s Neck Compound, after the private peninsula it inhabits (known on old maps as Swain’s Neck), it was sold for a then staggering sum of $7.15 million.  Mr. Phelon passed away in March, sadly, and the family is listing the home for sale.  It’s asking price?  $59 million, or 725% more than the price he paid 15 years ago.

So the home I knew intimately then is on the market now, and I wanted to share some photos of one of the most spectacular homes I know.

I hope you enjoy this glimpse into a special and elegant home.  I’ve enjoyed remembering the time I spent there!

All photography:  Terry Pommett

 

 

The Pleasures of Summer at Pumpkin Pond Farm

Photography:  Kevin McGowan

One of my favorite places on Nantucket is Pumpkin Pond Farm, a certified organic 9.5 acre farm and nursery located at 25 Millbrook Road.   Owner Marty McGowan, his wife Holly and his sister Mary have created an Eden-like oasis of color and flavor, offering a wide variety of delicious vegetables and greens, along with trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and just for good measure, rare and beautiful antique garden ephemera.

They are dedicated to sustainable agriculture and good soil science, in addition to planting for color and beauty as well as taste.  Marty prides himself on being a nutrient rich-organic food source for the island.  More people are becoming aware that local food is healthier than food that has to travel long distances to reach our tables.  Pumpkin Pond also buys seeds and heirloom varieties only from certified organic providers.

 

Photography:  Kevin McGowan

“I have fun discovering the provenance and stories behind many of the heirloom varieties we grow,” says Marty.  For anyone interested in the story behind their heirloom vegetables, he suggests a visit to Gary Ibsen’s TomatoFest.

You’ll find both French and Italian varieties of herbs and greens, fields overflowing with fragrant flowers for cutting and 26 different kinds of heirloom tomatoes.  (Plan on attending their August tomato tasting for an exploration into sweet and delicious pairings with cheese, wine and salami from Boston’s North End.)

 

Photography:  Kevin McGowan

A tropical greenhouse is home to banana plants, gardenias, passion flowers and ginger, along with a wide variety of succulents.  20,000 varieties of annuals add an explosion of summer color, and their extensive tree and shrub collection, along with a wide selection of hydrangeas, make a visit to the farm an experience you won’t forget.

A new addition this year an herb garden, where they’re exploring new and exiting varieties of herbs, such as an oregano from Greece or Spain, and paprika from Africa.  The herb gardener, fondly known to as “Farmer Josh,” makes wonderful herbal sun tea fresh daily.  A favorite of visitors is Chocolate Mint with Chamomile; stop by and try some!

 

Photography:  Kevin McGowan

Holly, Marty’s wife, is the creative vision behind their unique collection of garden ephemera.  You can find both classic and eclectic ornaments, furniture and urns to grace your garden there.

One of their favorite events happens July 25-28 when the Nantucket Garden Festival takes place. It’s one of the season’s most popular events for islanders and non-islanders alike.    The farm hosts the Opening Night party from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on July 25th; add it to your calendar now.

Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of Social Networks

 

I’m finding that there are so many upsides to our engagement with each other via the internet.  My website, blog, and Facebook page do take time to create and update, it’s true, but it is unprecedented in the history of the world to have platforms like these, where we can to share our most heartfelt passions, and our inspirations for beauty and health in life.   One of my favorite bloggers and someone I turn to in my personal life for healthful guidance and advice is Mark Hyman, MD.  Dr. Hyman has created a groundbreaking medical approach called Functional Medicine.  A physician in private practice, he is also a bestselling author and a fervent proponent of helping people worldwide achieve their best lives through good health.   Two of his recent blogs covered a fascinating topic:  Can Social Networks Cure Disease?  I encourage you to take the time to read them:  I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Can Social Networks Cure Disease Part One
Can Social Networks Cure Disease Part Two

Edward O. Wilson Has a New Book!


One of my favorite authors and environmental advocates is Edward O. Wilson, an American biologist, conservationist and Pulitzer Prize winning writer.  In a previous blog post I highlighted his novel, Ant Hill; on April 2nd, he released his latest book, The Social Conquest of Earth.   Here he addresses the three fundamental questions of religion, philosophy and science:  Where did we come from?  What are we?  And where are we going?  Refashioning the story of human evolution, Wilson offers us his carefully thought out explanation as to the origin of the human condition and why it resulted in our domination of Earth’s biosphere.

Dr. Hyman describes Wilson’s latest book this way:  “E.O. Wilson in his new book, The Social Conquest of Earth, says that it is our drive to join a group that makes us human.  It is the longing to belong – and the power of peer pressure can be force for both good and evil – It can drive war and violence, but it can also be a force for healing.”

I’m reading it.  I hope you’ll read it, too!

Anchoring the Present to the Past

The Spring issue of Nantucket Today features an article I wrote on restoring the Captain Parker house on Flora Street in Nantucket.  Historical preservation and reverence for the past is key to the work I do when working with older buildings.  My clients know that  I believe that a healthy home is the ultimate luxury,  and I work tirelessly to make each family home a refuge from toxins and contaminants.  The installation of air filtration systems, painting with low or no VOC paints and finishes and restoring woodwork with sustainable choices are all an integral part of my work, but it’s also important to honor the history of the house and the families who first called it home. How do you blend a reverence for history with an appreciation for the health-giving properties of 21st Century building materials?

A credentialed, award-winning interior designer is the best choice for delicate historical preservation work.  I hope you’ll pick up a copy of the Spring issue of Nantucket Today and enjoy the story of how I restored the Captain Parker House and brought it back to vibrant life.  More homes on Nantucket should be protected and preserved; we owe it to the island to honor the work of the families who came before us, braving the ocean winds and waves to make a life on this fragile and beautiful outpost in the Atlantic.

Read the article at Nantucket Today online.

 

 

Eco-Friendly Flowers for Valentine’s Day!

As beautiful as hothouse flowers are, their leaves and blossoms have been repeatedly sprayed with toxic pesticides and fungicides as they grow.  There’s a healthier way to show your love for your sweetheart and our planet:  by ordering organic blooms from Organic Bouquet.  Organic Bouquet is the largest online provider of organic floral arrangements and gifts.  All of their flowers, from select farms in California, Ecuador and Columbia, meet stringent standards for environmental safety, monitored by multiple certification agencies and associations.

Their eco-friendly flower arrangements include roses, calla lilies, tulips, gerbera daisies, hyacinths, sunflowers, alstromeria lilies and blue iris, and are shipped nationwide to all 50 states.

Their newest program, Flowers for Good ™, was established to help not-for-profit partners raise much needed funds.  When you order selected bouquets through the flowers for charity program, 5% of your purchase price will be donated to the individual charity and used to make the world a better place.

Some of their charity partners are Amnesty International, Green America, the American Lung Association, and the Audubon Society, among others.

Visit www.organicbouquet.com to learn more.  Or read what I wrote about Organic Bouquet here (June 2011), and here (February 2011).

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Last October I wrote about my participation in The Leadership Summit on Sustainable Design, held in Boston and sponsored by The Design Futures Council.  One of the best parts of attending such an inspirational conference was the opportunity to meet many of the movers and shakers in the environmental preservation movement, people who are passionate about their work, and about the health of our planet.

One person I was privileged to meet is William Kamkwamba. Mr. Kamkwamba is a self-educated Malawian inventor who gained fame in his country when in 2002, he built a windmill to power electrical appliances in his house in Masitala using blue gum trees, bicycle parts and materials collected in a local scrapyard.  His story is told in his inspirational book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope, written with journalist Bryan Mealer.

The good news is that a Young Readers edition will be released on January 19th, 2012.  Telling the story about how 14 year old William spent his days in the library and figured out how to bring electricity to his village, it is a tale of persevering against the odds. There is a real need to inspire students with an interest in science and engineering:  this is a wonderful gift for the young people in your life.

Christmas Cheer & Hannukah Happiness

 

No matter what holiday you celebrate when the snow falls in December, it’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate with candlelight, ribbons and bows, elegant table settings, and holiday meals that bring loved ones together.

One of my greatest joys as an interior designer is decorating the house for the holidays, whether it’s my own, or a labor of love for a client.  I love green swags draped from chandeliers and on mantles, vintage silver on red linen tablecloths, and twinkling lights sprinkled not only on the Christmas tree, but all around the house.

Decorating for Hannukah also gives me a thrill, as blue and white are favorite colors, and are stunningly beautiful in cold and snowy December.  Silver stars and deep blue table linens set off crystal goblets to perfection.  Flickering candles from a treasured family menorah add a warm glow; it’s always a delight to see the tiny flames reflected in the eyes of eager children.  Sugar cookies iced in blue and white are a sweet treat at the end of the meal.

 Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa or the beauty of the winter season, here a few tips to make your holidays merry and bright:

  • This is the season of enchantment:  it’s a visual celebration, but don’t forget the importance of sound (background music and the jingle of bells), fragrance (fir trees and the aroma of warm apple cider), taste (the first delectable sip of eggnog, and a golden roasted turkey.)  Engage every one of the senses to create a truly memorable occasion.
  • This is the season of abundance:  Don’t be afraid to overdo it!  Heap the mantles with greens, bring out your fine china and heirloom silver, light all the candles then add a few more, and drape the Christmas tree in lights, ornaments, strings of pearls or crystal, and hundreds of little white lights!
  • This is the season of open hearts and open hands:  Gather the people you love close to you.  Invite the neighbors for an open house, throw a dinner party, deliver cookies to all your friends.  When giving gifts, plan carefully to surprise loved ones with the just right present.  And don’t forget those less fortunate:  the Jewish tradition of mitzvah, performing an act of human kindness, is always appropriate, but never more so than during the holiday season.
  • This is the season of joy:  Instead of feeling frazzled by the season, take whatever time you need to sit by the fire and rest.  There is no charm in exhaustion, no cheer in feeling stressed.  Take good care of yourself and your family in what can be a hectic season, and before you know it, you’ll be ready to rejoin the party!

 

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love!”  ~Hamilton Wright Mabie

Three Books You Shouldn’t Miss


A History of the World in 100 Objects, by Neil MacGregor

This book is the result of a joint project of BBC Radio and the British Museum, from a 100 part radio series presented by British Museum director Neil MacGregor. It’s the history of humanity in 100 objects made by human hands, from cooking pots to sculptures, from mummies to spear points. It’s not just a jumbled list of stuff, though. MacGregor explores questions such as “What happened as people moved from villages to cities? When did societies begin to express themselves through myth, math and monuments? How did people seek pleasure 2000 years ago?”

When you open this book, you’ll find yourself spending time with The Rosetta Stone and the Head of Augustus, a Chinese bronze bell and the Sphinx of Taharqa. It’s a fascinating trip back in time. You’ll be glad you took the time to make it.

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, by Nicholas Carr

Nicholas Carr has something he wants us to think about: is the internet changing how we think, even to the level of our internal brain activity? If you’ve ever spent an hour (or a day) surfing the web, and walked away from your computer wondering about the deleterious effects on your mind, you won’t want to miss this book. A Finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction, a Finalist for the 2011 PEN Center USA Literary Award, and an international bestseller translated into 22 languages, The Shallows explores how human thought has been shaped through the centuries—from the alphabet, to maps, the printing press, the clock, and now the computer—and questions how information can literally reroute our neural pathways.

His point? We are becoming better at skimming, but we may be losing our capacity for concentration and reflection. If you read it, I’d love to know what you think.

Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv

A good book to accompany The Shallows is Last Child in the Woods. Author Richard Louv links the lack of nature in the lives of today’s wired children (kids with a nature-deficit, in his words) with the rise in obesity, attention disorders and depression. He presents a new and growing body of research that indicates that direct exposure to nature is imperative for healthy childhood development, and the physical and emotional health of children and adults alike. This powerful book will inspire you to think in new ways about how to incorporate more nature into your life, and the lives of the children you love.

Living on the Edge

I love the energy and inspiration created when a group of people, all committed to a common cause, gather to share information and plans for action.  At  Living on the Edge, a Coastal Communities Conference held on Nantucket on September 29th and 30th, participants focused on the impact of how we use our waterways, the land/sea interface, and ways to knit together the shared edges between the blue water, the near shore, and the watershed.

By exploring new approaches and applying what we learn, we can help protect and preserve the health of our coastal communities.  The goal is to create a coastal waters management strategy that ensures that the sea remains healthy, and maintain the beauty of our oceans and our coastlines.

We were very fortunate to be able to screen a sneak preview of a wonderful new film, Ocean Frontiers:  The Dawn of a New Era in Ocean Stewardship. The movie promises us a new way of thinking, and a new way of living, in concert with the sea. It includes stories and stunning footage from seaports and watersheds across the country, from Boston Harbor to obscure little fishing communities in the Pacific Northwest, from the Florida Keys to the Mississippi Delta.

I encourage you to visit the movie website at www.ocean-frontiers.org to watch a trailer, purchase the dvd, and find out what you can do to get involved with protecting our oceans.

Living on the Edge

I love the energy and inspiration created when a group of people, all committed to a common cause, gather to share information and plans for action.  At  Living on the Edge, a Coastal Communities Conference held on Nantucket on September 29th and 30th, participants focused on the impact of how we use our waterways, the land/sea interface, and ways to knit together the shared edges between the blue water, the near shore, and the watershed.

By exploring new approaches and applying what we learn, we can help protect and preserve the health of our coastal communities.  The goal is to create a coastal waters management strategy that ensures that the sea remains healthy, and maintain the beauty of our oceans and our coastlines.

We were very fortunate to be able to screen a sneak preview of a wonderful new film, Ocean Frontiers:  The Dawn of a New Era in Ocean Stewardship. The movie promises us a new way of thinking, and a new way of living, in concert with the sea. It includes stories and stunning footage from seaports and watersheds across the country, from Boston Harbor to obscure little fishing communities in the Pacific Northwest, from the Florida Keys to the Mississippi Delta.

I encourage you to visit the movie website at www.ocean-frontiers.org to watch a trailer, purchase the dvd, and find out what you can do to get involved with protecting our oceans.

Best Wedding Flowers are Chemical-Free

I have a favorite source for healthy, chemical-free blossoms: Organic Bouquet. I’ve written about this company before, because many people do not realize that most hot house flowers are grown in greenhouses filled with pesticides. On your wedding day, you don’t want the blossoms in your bridal bouquet drenched in toxic chemicals.

You can find beautiful bridal arrangements at organicbouquet.com, such as roses in pink, white or soft lavender, gerbera daisies, iris, lilies or sunflowers. All of their flowers, from select farms in California, Ecuador and Columbia, meet stringent requirements for environmental safety, monitored by multiple certification agencies and associations.

Their eco-friendly flower arrangements also include calla lilies, tulips, hyacinths and alstromeria lilies, and are shipped nationwide to all 50 states. They also offer a selection of organic wines. All of their shipping boxes are made from recycled and recyclable materials, and boxes, inserts and gift cards are printed on recycled or recyclable materials using soy-based ink.

What a wonderful way to celebrate the beginning of a new life, by respecting the life of everything on earth!

Visit them at www.organicbouquet.com.

Keeping Nantucket Beautiful

There are few things more important to me in life than efforts to retain what is rare and beautiful on this earth.  Nantucket, a tiny island just three and a half miles wide and fourteen miles long, can only be reached by boat or plane, making it a world of its own.

Its distance from the mainland has helped it to retain its quaintness and its charm over the years since it first found itself drawn on a map in 1602.  Grey shingled buildings, roses tumbling over fences, sandy beaches, hundreds of historic homes, and boats bobbing in the harbor combine with the natural beauty of the island to make it a priceless treasure.

ReMain Nantucket

ReMain Nantucket is one organization dedicated to strengthening the vitality of downtown Nantucket, while preserving its unique character and spirit. ReMain is committed to supporting a healthy, year round community on the island, and a flourishing downtown.

In the past twelve months, they have sponsored workshops on seasonal parking issues, presented by transportation experts; held a conference about rising sea levels, in collaboration with the Egan Maritime Institute, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, The Nature Conservancy, Climate Central, and the Maria Mitchell Association; and hosted a presentation on sustainable downtowns, presented by the director for the National Trust Main Street Center.

They have been responsible for community initiatives, such as purchasing the Mitchell’s Book Corner property and leasing it to a local entrepreneur, Mary Jennings. With the goal of renovating an historic property in an environmentally thoughtful way, they sought the expertise of local engineers and architects.  The building renovation was awarded a silver LEED certification from the U.S Green Building Council.

ReMain Nantucket is a sponsor of Nantucket Race Week, August 13-21, 2011, the Nantucket Comedy Festival, July 28-30, 2011, and the Nantucket Garden Festival, July 20-23, 2011.  The organization only sponsors non-profits, and they ask for a pledge of sustainability for their events, as well as offering guidelines to help make that happen.

Learn more about this wonderful organization at www.remainnantucket.org.

Sustainable Nantucket

Sustainable Nantucket is working to build a more locally-based and self-reliant food system on-island, along with a strong local economy.  They are making efforts to expand agricultural production, promote local farmers’ markets, encourage local food use in Nantucket restaurants, schools, hospital and other venues, and educate the community about sustainability.

Islanders can support their good work at the annual Farm Fresh Feast, happening July 16 at Moors End Farm. The menu is all “Nantucket Grown,” and will include a Nantucket Bay Scallop Ceviche, Herb-Crusted Dayboat Cod with Tomato Basil Salsa, Grilled Seasonal Vegetables from Pumpkin Pond and HUmmock Pond Farms, and a selection of delicious desserts.  For more information and to purchase tickets, go to http://www.sustainablenantucket.org/events-2/upcoming-events/

Approximately 1/3 of our carbon footprint as a nation comes from industrialized agriculture, which also uses pesticides and herbicides, degrading our soil and water.  When you support local food production, you help to reduce the demand for food produced by this system, and at the same time, enjoy better taste, fresher foods, and a higher nutritional value.

Sustainable Nantucket operates a Farmers and Artisans Market on Saturdays on North Union and Cambridge Streets from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Enhancing the Nantucket feeling of community, vendors include growers, artisans and prepared food purveyors.  There are live music performances, kids’ activities, demonstrations and more.  July is Tomato, Tomato Month, with a “making salsa” demonstration on July 23rd.

Vendors include one of my very favorite places for fresh organic produce, Pumpkin Pond Farm (www.pumpkinpondfarm.com), as well as Bartlett’s Farm, Gourmet Gardens, Nantucket Coffee Roasters and more!

There is also a Mid-Island Market at 113 Pleasant Street on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. that will run through August 30th, providing a second location and date for islanders who may not make it to the downtown market on Saturday, or who are ready to replenish their supplies.

Sustainable Nantucket also operates a Farm to School program to serve healthier meals in school cafeterias, builds school gardens and provides information to parents, teachers and students about healthy eating.  A Youth Council Program began in 2008 to help the island’s youth become leaders in implementing sustainable practices, and ongoing Outreach/Education efforts are made through classes, workshops and targeted campaigns.

Learn how you can help at www.sustainablenantucket.org.

Breathing Easier with Austin Air Filters

Living close to fresh breezes off the ocean, both Long Island Sound and Nantucket Harbor, means I regularly enjoy brisk, clean air when I am outside. As a designer and proponent of healthy living, I want all of us to enjoy the same feeling of pristine air inside our homes as well.

A product that I use in my own home, and recommend to friends and clients, is the HealthMate+ from Austin Air Filters, Inc. This filter is enhanced to offer the ultimate in air filtration, making it an ideal choice for those with chemical sensitivities. A medical filter uses solid activated carbon and zeolite impregnated with potassium iodide to remove harmful gases, in addition to dust, pollen and pet dander.

Austin Air Systems, Limited was recently chosen by the National Sleep Foundation to make a new filter specifically for the bedroom, to be used while sleeping. The Bedroom Machine removes particulates that can be seen by the naked eye, like dust and pet dander, along with molds, spores, pollen and chemical gases such as sulfuric acid and ammonia.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America rates indoor air quality as one of the top five environmental health risks, which means that I recommend doing more than just opening the windows from time to time. Indoor air can harbor a number of irritants, from smoke particulates to pollen. Other chemicals such as formaldehyde from particleboard cabinets and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from paints and finishes can also be present.

A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that using High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters for just two days removed 60 percent of air particulates and improved cardiovascular health in non-smoking adults. To be sold as a HEPA air filtration system, the air filter must remove 99.97% of all particles larger than 0.3 microns.

Five more things you can do to ensure clean indoor air:

• Turn on your fan while cooking, especially with gas stoves.
• Use green cleaning methods instead of heavy chemicals for housekeeping.
• Choose “green” dry cleaners that use only non-toxic cleaning products.
• Don’t wear shoes indoors. Shoes track in pesticides and chemicals, which then become trapped in carpet fibers.
• Use low or no-VOC paints and finishes in your home.

Take a deep breath and resolve to do at least one, if not more, of these suggestions. Your heart and lungs will thank you.

Organic Bouquet

When our thoughts turn to love, we often turn to flowers.  Long established as a romantic gesture, there is nothing like a dozen roses to melt the heart of your loved one.  Many people do not realize, however, that hothouse flowers are grown in greenhouses filled with pesticides, and the blossoms you hold to your face have been repeatedly treated with toxic chemicals.

There is a wonderful company determined to change the way we grow and buy flowers, however.  Organic Bouquet is the largest online provider of organic floral arrangements and gifts.  All of their flowers, from select farms in California, Ecuador and Columbia, meet stringent standards for environmental safety, monitored by multiple certification agencies and associations.

Their eco-friendly flower arrangements include roses, calla lilies, tulips, gerbera daisies, hyacinths, sunflowers, alstromeria lilies and blue iris, and are shipped nationwide to all 50 states.

CEO Robert McLaughlin has created a company that positively affects the environment, the floral industry, and the people on the farms of California, and South and Central America.  They make choices every day to support responsible commerce, environmental stewardship and the health of the people who work for them.

“Sustainability is a slippery word, one that has a different meaning for different groups,” says Mr. McLaughlin.  “Being sustainable is not just about our company, it’s about our partners, our industry associates and our customers.”

“All plants, flowers, fruits, vegetables and livestock were grown or raised for thousands of years organically.  Only in the last 100 years have we discovered synthetic chemicals and begun to overuse them,” he continues.  “As we’ve destroyed millions of acres and polluted millions more, this phasing out of synthetic chemicals and returning to natural methods prove that synthetic chemicals have been a brief but damaging fad that hopefully will never be repeated.”

Good things to know about Organic Bouquet:

  • The company partners with Carbonfund.org in a carbon offset program to mitigate greenhouse gases generated from shipping your flowers and gifts.  Each time you make a purchase from Organic Bouquet, the amount of carbon emissions  from that shipment is offset by rolling funds into the Nicaragua Reforestation Project—a project which will sequester more than 150,000 tons of CO2 through reforesting abandoned pasture land with native tree species.
  • Shipping boxes are made from recycled and recyclable materials.
  • Boxes are printed with water based ink, which is naturally non-toxic and low in VOCs.
  • All of their inserts and gift cards are printed on recycled or recyclable materials using soy-based ink.
  • Their glass vases are made from 100% recycled glass.

If all of that isn’t enough to convince you, consider this:

The company’s flower farms employ 60% women, all from the surrounding villages.  These jobs empower women, help bring the family out of poverty, and improve the lives of their children.  Each certified farm has medical facilities on site, day care for workers, health education, above minimum wages, and teaches a trade.

For more information and to order your Valentine’s Day flowers, visit them at: www.OrganicBouquet.com

Canyon Ranch

The beginning of the New Year has always meant a time of reflection, and for me, a time for renewal of body, mind and spirit as well.  I use the early weeks of January, when the holiday lights have been taken down and the cold weather has settled around us, for a trip to Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts.

I know that it is important to keep myself in balance through the right nutrition for my body, good sleep in a healthy environment, and exercise that gently stretches me to new levels of fitness.  The experts at Canyon Ranch offer an innovative approach to health and wellness, and a passionate commitment to holistic care, all in beautiful and relaxing surroundings.

Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts is housed in the former Bellefontaine Mansion, in the heart of the Berkshires.  Built in 1897, the building has been restored in a style harmonious with the surrounding countryside.  Architects worked with the local historic preservation board to be sure their restoration was fully authentic.  In recent years, the spa has embraced the concept of sustainable interiors, and has chosen to use low VOC paints and other non-toxic materials in their healthy and beautiful surroundings.

It’s a step forward for all of us (and for a healthy planet) whenever sustainable choices are made:  my enthusiasm for the good work done at Canyon Ranch is amplified by their conscious stewardship of the earth, and their dedication to the health of their guests.

The bottom line:  however we choose to honor and care for ourselves, we must never take our health for granted!

Our Russian Christmas Fantasy

Our Russian Christmas Fantasy

Once again, the end of November found the team at Dujardin Design Associates in full decorating mode at the Nantucket Whaling Museum. This year, we created a Russian Christmas Fantasy display for the Nantucket Historical Association’s 17th Annual Festival of Trees.

Inspired by my Russian heritage, the tree is a splendor in red and gold, with red glass balls, golden ribbons and over 50 handmade Russian ornaments. There are Russian Cossacks, snowflakes, Faberge eggs and matryoshka dolls (the traditional nesting dolls), all delicately hand painted in festive fashion.

We created the illusion of snow covered branches by wrapping the tree in hundreds of little white lights, and tucking fresh baby’s breath into the boughs. A silk tree skirt embroidered in red glass beads in a snowflake design is a work of art in itself, crafted for us by the same people who did the Christmas tree skirts for the White House.

A Nod to Antiquity Required Special Handling:

The museum is home to rare artifacts and aged documents such as original ships’ whaling logs, so the ornaments, although they appear to be cookies, are not made with any edible products. Likewise, the fabulous faux “gingerbread” cathedral, depicting St. Basil’s in Moscow, is a meticulously molded and painted replica.

St. Basil’s Gingerbread Cathedral

Accompanies the Tree:

Standing next to the tree on a red plaid skirted table is a replica of the famous St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. Approximately two feet wide and three feet high, its creation required over 200 man hours by the skilled craftspeople at Colette’s Cakes of New York.

St. Basil’s was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible in 1555. The building’s shape was designed to mimic the flame of a bonfire rising into the sky. Its full name is the Cathedral of Intercession of Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat, Temple of Basil the Blessed, but it has been referred to as St. Basil’s for centuries. It comprises nine individual chapels, each topped with a unique onion dome.

The Story of BabushkaIf you would like a copy of this delightful Russian Christmas Legend please send us your contact information.Seven Simple Steps for a Sustainable Holiday Season

  • A gift is a thoughtful gesture and the same sentiment can be shown in sustainable ways. Consider exchanging time instead of gifts with the elderly or lonely during the holiday season, or making a sustainable donation to a local charity with the money you save. Put your money to work helping others and the planet with a “life-changing gift”, such as Heifer International, www.heifer.org or ChildFund International, www.childfund.org.
  • Be socially conscious with gifts that promote fair trade.
  • Use energy efficient LED holiday lights to add sparkle. (Install a timer!)
  • Give locally made products, help reduce the impact of transportation.
  • Purchase greeting cards printed on recycled materials with vegetable based non-toxic inks, or send email greetings.
  • Give gifts such as gift certificates or theater tickets – they don’t require a lot of gift wrapping. Avoid wrapping with glossy or metallic paper. Colorful fabric or reusable gift bags are an environmentally friendly alternative.
  • Choose toys that do not require batteries. Instead choose gifts that stimulate a child’s imagination without impacting the environment.

For more on sustainable ideas for your home, visit our website at www.dujardindesign.com.

The Q Collection

The Q Collection

I often talk to my clients about the importance of indoor air quality. Our super-insulated, warm homes can generate a poor air exchange system, so that chemicals that are introduced unknowingly build up and can cause allergies, asthma, and auto immune disorders.

Producing upholstered furniture and dyed fabrics requires the use of many chemical products, some of which may be harmful to us. The list includes things such as formaldehyde and polyurethane, flame retardants and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), all sources of noxious indoor vapors.

The Q Collection was one of the first fabric and furniture companies dedicated to eco-safe home furnishings. Their materials are free of chemicals that can pollute your home, such as toxic glues, finishes and dyes. Their residential fabric line includes biodegradable, environmentally-safe products made with natural materials such as alpaca, bamboo, Oeko-Tex certified cotton, hemp, leather, linen, viscose and wool.

I’ve used the Q Collection fabrics and upholstered pieces in several of my “green” designs, and recommend them as one more thing you can do to help make all of our lives a little healthier, and the earth a little cleaner, as well as more beautiful!

I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas: Gifts, Decorations, and Recipes that Use Less and Mean More, by Anna Getty.

Another thing I love is a book entitled, I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas:  Gifts, Decorations, and Recipes that Use Less and Mean More, by Anna Getty. This charming paperback by a chef, mother, organic living expert and environmental advocate offers advice on everything from choosing the best tree (real or fake?) to homemade craft ideas, recipes and entertaining friends and family. She offers tips like The Ten Easiest Things You Can Do to Save Energy during the Holidays, and chapters on Nesting, Trimming and Giving.

A statistic from the book states that Americans throw away an additional five million tons of trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. This little book may be the start of a more sustainable holiday for you and your family.

Available from Chronicle Books. ISBN-10:  0811867676
List Price $24.95

If you’re on Nantucket, you can find this book at Parchment, Eleven Washington Street. 508-228-4110 www.parchmentnantucket.com. Heidi, Parchment’s gracious storekeeper, will be delighted to help you.