American Beauty: Jackson Hole

November 2, 2013 § 2 Comments

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You’ll recall that Mr. H and I were in Wyoming earlier this fall, and I only shared a few photos with you from when we landed. That trip is quickly becoming a distant memory, so I thought I should post a bit more of our time there, as it was spectacularly beautiful. And we rode horses!

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A view of the clouds and the Grand Tetons outside our room. I took great pleasure in watching the sun rise and clouds reveal the view in the morning. Talk about clearing the head…this does the trick.

As did our wildlife excursion the next (very early) morning, where moose and antelope were on order. Look closely and you will see them, I swear!

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There was a quiet here that one rarely experiences, I think. Just the wind lightly blowing…

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I especially loved the sagebrush. It was everywhere…

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And the incredibly green lake. Naturally, I can’t remember the name because, as I mentioned, it was very early in the morning, but it was just so very green…

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And we saw a raven…

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And by the time the sun was actually up, it was still magical…

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Truly magical.

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Giddy Up! The next day was the Tetons on horseback. And I swear, this was the first time in my life I thought I didn’t have enough fat on my bottom. Four hours on this baby kind of made sitting difficult for a few days…

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Alas, Bottom Discomfort was quite worth it…

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More closeups of the sagebrush and a pop of red. Albert Hadley would have been pleased…

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Going down was harder than going up from time to time, but missing this was not an option. (Also, I am not super clear that walking down this part of the mountains was a great option, either.)

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Next Up, Jenny Lake. This time we hiked and in addition to comfy hiking shoes and a hat from Orvis, I made sure that I was prepared…

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I also had bear spray and a lesson on how to use it. As pretty as this all is, it is Bear Country, and the Woody Allen in me was not taking any chances. Still, even in the rain that later arrived, this hike was worth it…

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And we made it all the way to the top before the rain really kicked in, so I am scoring this as a win. In fact, the whole trip was a win and one of the only places I’ve ever been in the States where there was an earnestness and level of mellow that didn’t appear to be chemically induced or a cliche. Perfect!

xx

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

Fallingwater

October 15, 2013 § 2 Comments

Sometimes some of the most amazing places aren’t all that far away. While we try to make a point of visiting things that are “close enough”, Mr. H and I had never been to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater*, which was just wrong. It is about 90 minutes outside of Pittsburgh (a kind of cool city, from what I could glean in the few hours we were there) and the city itself really isn’t that far from New York. So, for his birthday this past summer, I planned a Fallingwater Getaway as a present.

Needless to say, it was a present that we both enjoyed, especially with the scent of wet leaves and pine trees floating in the air and the sound of rushing water surrounding us…

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Please make note of the fact that this was built in the mid-1930’s and building a cantilevered structure on a waterfall was kind of audacious — and not necessarily easy to do. But that was Wright’s way, I suppose. I get it.

And while the house is designed to focus you on the outdoors, I can’t help but also pay attention to the interiors as well. I love that this house, built for the Kaufman family, who one could say were “flush”, is 2,500 square feet of interior space and another 2,500 of exterior space. Pretty modest when you think about what they could have built…

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These photos pretty much are the entire kitchen — and the only kitchen — in the house. Our guide said that the Kaufman’s Chef replaced the Aga with an electric stove for a spell, but the thankfully the Aga is back where it belongs. And the living area contained spaces for dining, lounging, working and even steps to a pool one floor below…very chic and seriously new for the time.

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The bedrooms, studies and baths were all equally modest in scale, and had some truly lovely moments…

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And sometimes when there is water rushing all around you, and structure and line begging you to look out, you have to remind yourself to also look up:

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This is just some of the white wisteria that covered a canopy outside Mrs. Kaufman’s bedroom. Even not in bloom, it was beautiful and peaceful. As I think Mr. Wright meant it to be at Fallingwater. If you can, do see it for yourself.

xx

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

* Tons of information can be found at these links, and many others:
http://fallingwater.org
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallingwater

Greetings from the Mountains!

September 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

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We have landed in Jackson Hole, where we plan on spending the weekend spotting wildlife, riding horses and being quite. This seems like the place…

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Enjoy your surroundings wherever you are!

xx

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

Fall Has Its Merits

September 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

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As we were driving back to the city this morning, I was feeling a twinge of Summer is Over Sadness. Until I remembered that fall has quite a bit to recommend itself. For starters, there is the fashion. Whether cuddled up in cozy sweaters, busting out my favorite capes and jackets or wearing something insanely pretty and glamorous — but impossible for real winter weather — this is the time of year to let it rip.

Concerts, plays and art openings are happening everywhere, restaurants are bustling and it finally gets a little more quiet by the beach for when it is needed.

And then there are the pumpkins…have I mentioned that pumpkins are one of the things in life that makes silly happy? I have no idea why, but when I spy the first ones popping up, I get full-on giddy. As such, I always take the Children in My Life pumpkin picking. They are an excellent cover, and tend to be extremely adorable bopping through the patch. They also are totally into “more” as a concept, which ensures that our wagon is nice and full and totally guilt free.

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Fall is also grape harvest season for all that wine I like to drink! And it tends to be the time of year that some equally Wine Friendly companions of ours hit the vineyards to find things to squirrel away for the perfect occasion. Last year, we went to Sonoma for said trip and it was, among other things, a very nice way to spend a few days in the fall…

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As you can imagine, I didn’t miss summer at all in these surroundings. And the food and wine that went along with it made it even better…

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My new crush vineyard: Williams Selyem. A must if you are in Sonoma.

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And fall is the perfect time to not only drink a few reds, but also to eat slightly more hearty food. Let’s just say that I enjoyed the chicken and waffles here very much. Very much. As well as the food at both Barndiva (sorry for the blurry photo) and Zazu Restaurant & Farm, which was a little meat-centric…hence the twinkle light pig, I think.

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See, fall is fun and filling!

And then there are still the Farmer’s Markets. Now, they might not be in their full glory come November, but they do keep chugging along, which allows you to prepare all manner of cozy fall meals.

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For the record, these are from a stand in Sonoma, so, you know, they still have zucchini blossoms. In New York, not so much. But my favorite one by the beach stays open until December 1st. So, I am In Produce until almost the end of the year.

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And you can wear a cute sweater cape when you are out shopping!

So, bottom line: fall is fabulous! Enjoy the season. I plan to.

xx

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

Mr. & Mrs. H’s English Adventure: Grays Court

June 28, 2013 § 4 Comments

I hope you aren’t getting too sick of these posts, but there was so much to see and each place was so different, that it is hard to control myself. These next posts are firmly mid-trip and contained some of our busiest and most beautiful places. And what I loved the most was how different they all are — not once did I get that “oh, another one of these” while on this trip. Quite a nice surprise, I must say.

First up: Grays Court, which had a little guest appearance on Downton Abbey last season as their Scottish Residence. Yes, it is in England…and only the exteriors were used, as the interiors were in use as a rather low-key family home until just a few years ago. (And for the full DA Experience, just replace the tourist and late-model cars with Lady Mary and Matthew and you’ll see it.)

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Of all the places we visited, this one was the most relaxed and my absolute favorite part was the walk in the bluebells…

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It all started rather innocently enough, with a modest gate between us and what we thought we be a typical walk with the usual bluebells. Only, we simply could not have imagined the magnitude of the bluebells…the path was a dense carpet of them, and as your kept walking, it got to be downright trippy!

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The path though the bluebells — which photos cannot really do justice to — left us at a most lovely clearing, and in the distance, you could see the beginnings of the house. But really, that landscape was the star of the show…

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As you may have noticed, things had become cloudy and I am here to tell you that it was also somewhat cold. I had a choice to make: Be a baby and try to get the the house as quickly as possible OR Get My English On and just keep walking and enjoying. I chose the latter. As did Mr. H — being half English, he is always game for a good walk.

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And soon enough, the house was in view, which I greeted with extreme pleasure, as that meant we were close to a Tea Room…

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But not that close. Another garden with an odd little bridge was to be crossed, and it had rather entertaining entry gate…

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Is it me, or is this discovery crying out for new nicknames for my besties?

Onward we walked, me thinking of little else but tea and not being rained on (I am not half English, so I still feel I did well given the circumstances). Sadly, by the time we arrived, there was very little in the way of nourishment beyond some tea in a paper cup, which we drank outside, in the rain. Still, I happily waited for our tour to begin and even had a chance to visit an outbuilding that has a really charming vegetable garden, where it was too early to grow food. But is was pretty to look at from indoors…

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And then it was finally time to get into the house. As I mentioned, there wasn’t much to see, as it was a family home until around 2003. But heavens, upon leaving the house, we were treated to a psychotically lovely situation…

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And that was a perfect ending to our visit. And what made it extra perfect was that Mr. H and I did it together. As we were on this trip, running around from place to place, being fascinated by so many things and having such hilarious (to us) conversations in the car that music was not needed, I’d like to always think of this gate as ours…

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And really, that is what makes a trip around the world and in life. May you always have a good companion by your side.

xx

For more information on Grey’s Court, including a snap of Matthew and Mary: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/greys-court/

(Photos: 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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(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)

Mr. & Mrs. H’s UK Adventure: Part I

May 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

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The beginning seems like a very good place to start sharing some of the highlights of our recent trip to England. We basically covered the countryside in the west and south. Our goal was to see as many manor houses and gardens as we could in twelve days. And with the help of the the U.K.’s National Trust (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk), the Lonely Planet Guide to England and my own research about some of the more famous houses between the wars, we came up with a rather excellent mix of grand, eccentric and simply lovely places to visit.

After arriving at the airport, we drove out to Bath, where we stayed while touring that part of the country. While the narrow, twisty streets of this beautiful old Roman city made the Car Thing a little treacherous, one cannot help but appreciate how beautiful it is…

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Unfortunately, we didn’t get a ton of time in the city itself. However, we did find this excellent lunch spot for our first non-airborne meal of the trip:

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If memory serves, this is one of the places we found through the Slow Food U.K. site (http://www.slowfood.org.uk) and it does have an emphasis on local and sustainable food — which didn’t rule out proper English fare, including fish & chips, ploughman’s lunch, shepherd’s pie and pints. I kind of loved the spare entry and table up front, and the bar has just what every woman wants in a good one: bag hooks…

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I opted for wine and a delicious sandwich…with chips (fries, really…I had the difference explained to me…chips are bigger). Mr. H went for a shepherd’s pie with his wine. It was exactly what we needed after two hours of driving and time zone adjustment…

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Also much needed was a post-lunch nap in the sun-filled room (yes, we were in England) at our hotel. To get to it, we had the good fortune to cross this garden every day…

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After the bustle of the city streets and the slight chaos of getting around those first few days, this was the perfect hideaway to begin and end each day. Especially when breakfast was served here…

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And Tea here…

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Which included one of the most delicious New Things I’ve Eaten: The Bath Bun (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bath_bun). They are those sugar covered buns in front of the scones and I could have eaten a mountain of them. Yum!

And I think that is all I have today, especially since I totally want one of those buns now, which means I should see about getting dinner together before I run out and eat a pile of donuts. (Which I think I’ll call Beach Buns from now on.)

Next up: Kingston Lacy, Dryham Park and maybe Cliveden.

xx

(Photos: Some Cozy Night)

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