One Last Hurrah…

August 29, 2013 § 2 Comments

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Oh my goodness! How did it get to be the beginning of Labor Day Weekend? (AKA: The End of Summer.) I know that it was busy, but really, this one went way too fast. Thankfully, I think we made the most of it, especially over these last couple of weeks. So, before we start thinking about fall and Fashion Week and All That Work We Need to Do, some last bits of summer, which in my book is at its best by the beach…

One of my favorite things about the season is the flowers — I know, this is not new information. And I especially love these particular roses when they greet me each day…

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The Village Improvement Society’s Annual Geranium Planting (I am not kidding about this, even though it sounds very Star’s Hollow) makes dog walks* a little bit more inviting in the morning, when I pretty much don’t want to be walking at all.

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Also making dog walks and other activities more enjoyable is our town itself, which I find to be quite charming. Pierre’s is our year-round spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and the best fries around), and the library next door is very high on the Adorable Factor, as is their library card, of which I am a proud holder. (But I am pretty sure I owe them a late fee for a Mary McCarthy biography. I feel bad about that…I really do. But somehow, I still haven’t made it back in to pay it. I think it is shame that is keeping me away.)

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And then there is the beach. I don’t think there is a better place to take a nap than on a beach. And nap I did this summer. Quite a bit. This was my typical view when I woke up from one of said naps…

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Unless I was opted for the shade of our beach camp…

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And sometimes, after napping, walking would happen. I know, everyone says it, but that is because it is true: A walk on the beach clears the mind, lifts the spirits and sometimes gives you ideas for interior design projects. (OK, that last part is probably just me.)

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(And this shell below has me thinking of all sorts of masculine colors for our kitchen project….but that is for another post.)

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Then there is eating. One of my favorite things to do. Ina always talks about them, but this place really is yummy…

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As is Navy Beach, which has been GOOP-ed, but I like to think that I knew about it first…

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If only they were a little more forthcoming about the availability of tables outside…

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Not that I am complaining. Well, actually, I am. Seriously, that was just a few of the open tables outside. Grrr.

Anyway, one thing I could never complain about is Mr. H’s annual Birthday Dinner with our dearest friends. As always, this was one was excellent — and included doughnuts from Dough!

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Naturally, this kind of eating requires a little more movement than just rolling over on my beach towel. So, I did attempt a jog or two and either I hallucinated it, or there is an amazing cobweb in this photo that I cannot see. If you can, I am very happy for you.

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And just in case you were concerned, A+O also had a very restful summer, including lots of time on the down cushions of our sofa. This does not please me, but they are so darn cute that I let it slide…

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And this year, we had an extra fun treat in the form of a fantastic sail on the most lovely boat…

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I am not a sailor, but I think this one is pretty “yar”. (Watch The Philadelphia Story, please.)

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So, even though I hate to see it go, I think that we did summer quite well this year, and hope you did same. And don’t forget to savor this long weekend — whatever your plans may be. I will probably still be napping and eating, if only for the sake of consistency.

xx

* In all fairness, Mr. H performs this duty far more frequently than I do. But, I am the one on teeth brushing and managing their schedules. Yes, they have schedules because parts of my life are ridiculous.

(Photos: Some Cozy Night and Mr. H)

The Sunday Ritual

July 21, 2013 § 2 Comments

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I grew up in a rather traditional Italian-American family (surprise!), where Sundays were kind of a big deal. Every week, tomato sauce, meatballs, sausages and other delicious things were prepped before my last Lucky Charm was eaten. And my Grandparents always came over for Sunday Dinner, which was often eaten in the middle of the afternoon and kind of stretched out until the early evening. That was “Sunday” to me. I never questioned it. It was just how it was and it was pretty nice.

When I went to college, there was no “Sunday Dinner” so-to-speak. But I did notice that early in my freshman year, my then-boyfriend and I always went to a very late lunch (seriously, like 3pm) at the same Chinese restaurant every Sunday, where I ordered the same exact thing, week after week, pretty much until we broke up. I suppose I had replaced one Sunday ritual with another.

Once out of college and living on my own, I found myself inviting my friends over for dinners on Sundays, rationalizing that if we didn’t get together, we were essentially tossing away part of our weekends. Another ritual. But that one was hard to sustain on account of Life Events, and everyone eventually becoming too busy to make it stick. And honestly, I didn’t feel like I’d “lost” anything. This was life and things change. Right?

But this past winter I was at a dinner party being thrown by a fellow Italian-American woman and as the evening went on, I was surprised to find myself confessing to her that I actually missed those more special Sundays. And her reply was simple: “You just have to make new rituals.”

Hmmm…that sounded too easy. And while I haven’t yet figured out how to create a Sunday of my childhood, I have noticed that Mr. H and I do have a few Sunday rituals which vary, but still count. One of these is lunch or an early dinner at Almond, which has an outpost by our house at the beach.

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There is always a warm welcome to be had here, as well as a delicious mac-and-cheese and something called the B.A.L.T., which is a BLT with avocado and some kind of heavenly spread to which I am thoroughly addicted. They also have that fabulous Scalamandre Zebra wallpaper that I adore, but have nowhere to use…

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There is also the Sunday Flower Run which not only keeps the house cheery during the workweek, but can also result in an excellent education in the various varieties and care of the things we pick. (The Watering Orchids session was one of the most useful in my Floral Life.)

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And when we are in the city, trips to Larder to make sure we have a treat or two to help us through the week is a pretty regular thing…

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As are walks with A+O,  especially when we are at the beach, where things are a little slower and we can take it all in…

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And watch A-dog flip out over the horses…

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And O-dog judge the quality of the plantings…

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And then there are days when I simply crave the scent of garlic, tomato and basil in the house. Those are the days, like this one, that I pull myself off the sofa and just make a simple tomato sauce with some pasta and call it a Sunday. Sometimes those are the best rituals of all.

xx

(Photos, including one of this evening’s early pasta dinner: Some Cozy Night and Mr. H)

A Little More England! Kingston Lacy

June 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

For the  record, I took around 3,000 photos on this trip, which is insane. But I am told by almost all good photographers I know that the key to getting a few great shots is to take A LOT of them. So, I did. And I am not saying that these are all great photos, but I am trying to up my game a tad.

And now back to England. The first leg of the trip was focused on the areas surrounding Bath and one of our first stops was farther south in Dorset, at Kingston Lacy (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kingston-lacy/), which was built to resemble an Italian palace. For all I know that was “tacky” in the day, but I find it to be pretty today. And from the 17th century until 1981 it was the Bankes family home.  (In case you are at all interested:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bankes)

We arrived on a rather dreamy day…cloudy enough to get the “English” feel, but with just enough sun and blue skys here and there to make you want to walk your legs off to enjoy the house and grounds.

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The walk leading up to the house kind of surprised me. Why? Because as an American who spends a lot of time seeing really big developer’s houses all over the place, this house actually seemed reasonable in size. I know this is nuts, but I have always felt that many houses are just too big these days — especially for their lot sizes — and this is estate pretty confirmed my beliefs. Is it large? Yes. But it contained a family and a staff and is sited on 8,500 hectares. (Which is a lot of acres. Please don’t ask me to do the math. I’ve been doing it all day.) And the combination of the scale of the house with the size of the property felt Just Right.

Some of my favorite moments…

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Amazing ceiling in the center hall. One interesting fact I learned on this trip: Many times, more “violent” paintings  — animals killing each other, for example — were placed in staircases, as they were not considered “polite” for sitting rooms. (And this center hall definitely delivered on that trend.) I tend to agree, but generally I am not one for violent art anywhere in the home. That said, when you are talking Rubens, Van Dyck, Titian and Brueghel, I suppose one can relax the rules a touch.

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I do love the amount of carving and plaster that can be found in this building — and many others that we saw. This one, though, just cracked me up, as I am pretty sure that I make this face at meetings sometimes. And when on the phone with my Dry Cleaner.

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As imposing as the more public spaces can be, this place still felt like someone’s home. And this bedroom really drove that home. When I walked in, all I could think of is how my Grandmother would have loved this room. And the reading contents were pretty excellent as well…

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And, to make good on that Manor House Thing, some other shots…

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OK, this one is blurry…but that lady was just constantly in my way!

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And then there is the back of the house, which leads to the wonderful grounds…

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Yeah…this is the payoff. But there is more…

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gorgeous

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(I want to paint my closet this color…or at least find a lipstick in this shade.)

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Yes. This is a headstone for a pony. Next to it was one for “a dear friend”, which I am hoping was also not human…or Silvertail must have been some pony.

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You have no idea how long it took us to figure out that these sheep “looked different” because they were shorn. (I thought they were goats at first. You can see it, right??)

Sure…we pretend to be in The Country at the beach, but no matter how many herbs we grow, we are helpless city folk. I am hoping that we are slowly educating ourselves on these matters. Which, in addition to just being outside, having fun and seeing new things, is kind of the point of the whole affair.

Until next time: know your shorn sheep from your goats!

xx

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

Summer Firsts

June 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

I thought I’d pace myself on England posts and take a moment to note that summer is finally here and so far, it has been delightful…

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I came out last night to find that this year’s cutting garden was planted! So today I snipped a few buds that were more than ready to hit the stage. I know I post a LOT of flowers here, but I just love them and they make me happy. (I hope they make you happy, too.)

Also making me very happy this weekend is our herb garden (that also contains lettuces and small tomatoes). Mr. H and I planted it in the rain a few weeks ago and it is already taking off. And this evening we’ll be having our first summer salad containing only Mr. & Mrs. H greens*…

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Along with some of our first tomatoes that must be eaten by us before the birds get to them…

firsttomatoesandstrawberriesAnd yes, we are trying those teeny strawberries again (they just grew back and I didn’t have the heart to tear them out), and so far, they are actually tasty!

Also worth noting is that last weekend we enjoyed our first  grilled summer steaks and hamburgers, with beef from our favorite butcher in Brooklyn: Fleisher’s

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Originally located in Kingston, New York, their second location opened about two years ago and what can I say?  All their meats are fantastically delicious and “happy”. (And it is a touch easier to pop into this place than store 60 pounds of beef from a share once a year.) Even their ground chicken is tasty. Yay.

And that is all I have for today. I think we are off to a good start!

xx

* I am not a hero, so we buy plants and lettuce plugs every year from The Green Thumb, which is a bit of an institution and one of the best places out by the beach for organic produce.

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

Lovely in England

May 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

Greetings from the English Countryside, where Mr. H and I have been powering our way through various manor houses, gardens and other grounds. A small driving incident in Bath aside, we have been having the most wonderful time. And while I plan to elaborate, I thought a little taste would be cheering.

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Above, some of the gardens at our hotel in Bath. Sitting out here for tea is heaven.

Below, a bit of a pink Japanese Maple on the grounds of Kingston Lacy. A most beautiful property. And trust me when I tell you it is impossible to capture the actual shade of pink…for me, anyway…

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A view on the grounds of Whatley Manor, where I had one of the best meals of my life (from a list that includes The Bristol, Chez Panisse, Per Se and Franny’s). And yes, it is in England.

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The view from one of our windows in Cliveden, where I am still pinching myself that I am actually here…

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And some of the grounds of Grays Manor, where even the cows were beautiful.

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Tomorrow we have a longish drive to Highgrove, where Prince Charles has created one of the most interesting Gardens I Must See. Naturally this requires proper footwear, which Mr. H and I were able to conjure up without having to take up too much room in our suitcases with full blown wellies…

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More to come!

xx

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

Fleeing from Nice Weather?

May 3, 2013 § 1 Comment

It appears that the three nice spring days that New York is allotted each year have just begun…

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The sky is cloudless. It is almost warm. And all the bulbs that were planted last fall in our front garden are in full bloom. Lovely.

Naturally, Mr. H and I won’t be around to enjoy this glorious time at home. No, no…we are headed to England, where it has been known to rain somewhat frequently. But our bags are packed…

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And to be truthful, we have a wonderful itinerary planned, including visits to all the gardens and manor houses I’ve been reading about these last couple of years, and a morning of learning the fly a hawk. So, rain or shine, we are going to have ourselves a little adventure. Definitely worth the trade off.

xx

(Photos: Mr. H and Some Cozy Night)

Almost…

March 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

Today was one of those days when the weather is just too good to stay indoors, even if you need to borrow your husband’s scarf to be completely warm. So, Mr. H and I walked the Highline and spied some very good signs that Real Spring is almost here…

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Small blossoms and other signs of life were everywhere. Alas, it wasn’t quite enough to make it feel as if winter were completely banished. So, we stopped a nearby florist to pick up some blooms to tide is over.

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I am fairly certain that I’ve made no bones about how horrid the weather has been of late. But today felt like a sign that we’ll be snipping our own buds in no time. In the meantime, we’ll take these teaser days whenever we can. I hope you can do the same.

xx

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

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