November 23, 2017

THE 2017 Gift Guide!

My 15' tree takes me two days to decorate but I LOVE the results! It ALWAYS makes me smile!
 I LOVE Christmas, but NOT until after we eat turkey and truly celebrate all the good in our lives over a Thanksgiving feast! In fact, when I was a young girl, my most fabulous grandma had me every year tape a bumper sticker in the window of her robin's egg blue 1964 VW Beetle that read, 
"Don't Pull Out The 
 Until You Eat The 

We also celebrated every year with my cousins from far away and had a five day "marathon" (that's what we called it once we could all drink because we'd start on Wednesday and wouldn't quit until bloody mary's on Sunday! oops!) 
Needless to say that Thanksgiving is not to be slighted as the incredible holiday it is. But once it's over, let the gift buying begin! I have compiled a quick and easy gift guide that has a little bit of something for everyone in your family, except the pets, because I could go on and on about gifting pets. With all of the Black Friday sales, I'm sure there's a deal to be had on many of these items. But if you read this after the Black Friday sales, you'll still earn the prize for the BEST GIFT EVER if you choose one of these goodies!

For the Glammy One
Who wouldn't want Meg Carter Designs' Ibiza Necklace. Meg's my BEST friend from college, super smart, pretty and talented (damn her! :), and she makes the most gorgeous jewelry. You can check out my earlier blog post on her creations entitled, The Stunning Meg Carter Jewelry. Anyway, this necklace also comes in orange and pink and is perfect at $125

For the Truly Decadent Christmas Lover
This Dresden Ornament Wreath from Terrain is mind-blowingly gorgeous and it demands a special place in some Christmas lover's home. My heart just stops looking at it, but I'd be afraid I'd hurt it. Ha ha! It's an indulgence, but oh so gorgeous at $448.

For the Boating Crowd
We actually have one of these, because we have a lot of boats, and it is SUPER COOL! Not inexpensive, but the company is having a great Black Friday sale now, and frankly these pads are worth getting even without a sale. This is the Bullfrog from Aqua Lily Pad, but there are smaller sizes, and these floats provide ENDLESS summer fun! Prices start at $300.

For the Foodie in the Crowd
Beekman 1802 is an incredible company founded by two guys who live on a farm in upstate New York. It's definitely on my bucket list to make a trip to see them and their Mercantile. But if you can't make it there to appreciate all their goats and wares, then why not try this Ghoast Maker and their own Ghoast Cheese. This bundle makes fun cheese shavings based on a centuries old French practice. Ooh La La, and totally affordable at $75!

For the Southern Gal (or one who winters in the South) and loves to Shop
From â bientôt, a chic store in Houston, Texas, comes this snappy bag known as the Parker Tote. Available in a blue and green version, the girl who gets this will earn rave reviews for her style! Also a great buy at $180.

For the Girl Who Remembers Her Dad's Bay Rum Cologne
If you have no idea what Bay Rum is then you might not have ever seen something like this 
on your Dad's vanity. They still sell a version at Brooks Brothers but the bottles don't have the caning. But that smell of rum or rhum mixed with bay leaves, is the comforting scent of my amazing Dad. When I saw Morey Lane's Ginger Jar, I felt like I found a piece of home. Why not place this version on your own vanity or anywhere that needs something pretty. So fab at $44.

For the Art Lovers
I live in a prolific town full of many talented people, and among them artists. 
One of these talents grew up and now lives in Newport, Rhode Island. But I used to coach sweet Emma Dane Garfield in lacrosse and then got to watch her when she and my daughter played on the same award-winning college team! Emma and her EDG Art offers prints and paintings and will also do commissions on anything. Follow her on Instagram too to see her videos of her work in progress. They are SO COOL!

Forrest Rodst is another talent who lives in Marblehead, but he also spends a lot of time on my favorite island, Nantucket. I especially love this print and how he mimicked the island's shape in the puddle and of course the van. Entitled Beach Bus, this giclee print speaks to me because I have my own VW hippie van that I literally bought sight unseen on ebay and we have the license plate WISH. 
A perfect present $320

For the One Who Likes to Be Cozy
And while I'm on the subject of Nantucket, no Christmas would be complete without some indulgence from Nantucket Looms! This shop has moved from it's bottom of Main Street location, but is still just as full of every island lover's dream! I own this hand-loomed (on Nantucket!) Cashmere Poncho and it is DREAMY! It comes in many colors and is on sale now! $396

For the Gstaad Set

From one of my favorite online shops and blogs, Well Appointed House, comes this set of four cocktail napkins, ready to ring in the New Year and upcoming ski season. Of course, one has more that four drinking friends, so it's a good thing they are well-priced at $40. Après Fun!

And while you're enjoying a glass or three of cheer, pour (no pun intended, ha ha) over this glammy book, The Spirit of Gstaad, and read about what life is really like among the very rich and famous! $50

For the Girl Who Never Lost Her Love of Rope Bracelets
 Another talented gal from my hometown of Marblehead, makes incredible creations with her company, Shore Knots, celebrating "marlinspike' or the art of knot-tying. Kim can do any custom piece in a multitude of colors, but I love the simplicity of this Brewster Bracelet, named after her dog. It's just perfect! $35

For the Booklovers
If you LOVE parties AND flowers the way I do, Second Bloom, Cathy Graham's Art of the Table will stop your heart! It has so many great pieces of advice along with sumptuous photos. I could look at this book all day! $29.99

Cravings is an amazing book because Chrissy Teigen is a model (who also happens to be married to John Legend) and she actually COOKS and EATS her own food and STILL looks fabulous! The recipes are mouthwatering and delicious. And it's really great to see someone who enjoys food and doesn't make up lame model excuses like, "oh I just have a high metabolism." (so says the envious chubby girl, me :)) $17.85 on Amazon

For the Snacker and Drinker
A terrible picture, but honestly the BEST PEANUTS you'll ever eat! The first time I ever ate any peanuts from Newsoms Peanut Shop, was during one of the many trips down the inland waterway on our boat, the mighty Seyon, (which you can look through this blog and see some fun posts). One of the stops after Norfolk, VA is Coinjock Marina in North Carolina,  a place famous for their MASSIVE steaks and great hospitality. Anyway, they have a dockhouse store, surprisingly well-stocked with everything from marine supplies, to smoked salmon, gouda cheese and peanuts! Buy some and then buy even more, because these peanuts won't last!

Another not-so-great picture, but AMAZING Bloody Mary mix from the Debutante Farmer whose story is just as interesting. This mix is so great, but fair warning, three bottles won't be enough so buy six.  Because like the peanuts, once you start, you'll just want more!

Finally, For the Game Lover

Because the holidays are all about fun and games, and sharing time with loved ones, this Jonathan Adler Lacquer Backgammon Set is a luxury but is currently 20% off and it comes in many colors. Backgammon is a classic game for all ages and this set does not disappoint! It's gorgeous and heavily constructed and one that will last for many ages to come! $395

I am grateful to you all who have taken the time to read my silly blog, and I hope you come back for more posts. Writing this is one of my favorite things I do, I just constantly run out of time to do it! Ahhh!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Festivus and 
Cheers to a 2018 that surpasses even your wildest dreams!!!

October 15, 2017

New England Fall Fabulosity

Fall has arrived!! Pretty plaids, the mixing colors of the leaves, pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, chunky sweaters, the smell of wood fires, DAHLIAS and of course football (New England Patriots) and cider donuts! It's an overload of the senses, each element more perfect than the next!
 I was lucky enough to meet and help (in the tiniest of ways), Colin Cowie, the master event planner to the Stars, at our dear neighbor's wedding. He and I were talking at one point during the festivities and I commented on what a neat coincidence it was that our house's tower was lit so perfectly. Colin looked at me and said, "Nanny, we did that intentionally. It's called theatrical fabulosity!" 
I LOVE the phrase! And in my mind, fall is all about FABULOSITY! 
 Gone are the lazy days of summer, and there is the transition to fall with a BAM! Let's do this - kind of thing. Growing up next to Salem, MA, I could never escape the allure of fortune-telling, Ouija Boards, tarot cards and every witch store around (and there are A LOT of them!). If you've never been to Salem, I HIGHLY recommend visiting. Not just for the complicated Salem Witch Trials history, or Nathaniel Hawthorne and The House of Seven Gables, but also the seafaring history that you can learn about when exploring the world-renowned Peabody Essex Museum. This picture shows just some of my Tarot card collection. I've been surprising trick-or-treaters and party guests for years with tarot card readings to the point where even my Dad, many moons ago, gave me this awesome sign!
If you have a chance to visit this area, you also CAN'T miss visiting Russell Orchards in Ipswich near Crane's Beach and gobbling up some of their famous cider donuts! 

The cider donut recipe is so secret that they just smile when you inquire how they make their soft-on-the-inside, with just the right touch of crispiness on the outside, yummy apple-y creations! I tried making my own version using cider and dropping them in oil, basing it off other recipes, but I wasn't even close. 
I surrendered to perfection and just buy them here, but do yourself a favor and add eating their cider donuts to your bucket list. Russell Orchards makes small batches all day long ensuring that the donuts are always fresh. It's fun watching them go from batter to fryer right in front of your eyes. One day, they made over 12,000 donuts!
There are lots of other goodies to also pick up like their apple crisp and peach cobblers made using their own apples and peaches, along with their freshly pressed cider, pumpkins, local cheeses and fruit wine too!

 You can't miss seeing Darryl the pig! He's big!

 It's really cool watching them make cider right before your eyes!
 And for added bonus, they have the sweetest dog waiting to great you!

I returned home and gathered bunches of dahlias from my garden and some I had as part of a farm share I belong to, and set the table with pretty arrangements in copper Moscow mule mugs, a platter of cider donuts and my tarot cards. It was the perfect way to spend a fall day before Halloween!

If I could only transmit the aroma of these donuts when they are hot from the farm, you would thank me! They are SOOOO good!
I played around with a few more dahlias, using a favorite spooky hurricane candle holder...
 I snipped some of the remaining greens from my garden...
 ...and built the backdrop to add some gorgeous dahlias.
Who says Halloween can't be chic! Even my design assistant, Prim, agrees!
Dahlia Fabulosity too!
Happy Halloween!!

September 23, 2017

Flowers, Hurricanes and Knees

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Flowers!!
A couple of great friends, knowing the battles I've been having, surprised me one day with an army helmet adorned with flowers! Posing for pictures with them, also in matching helmets, cheered me up to no end! But I think the helmet looks far more distinguished on Caesar, my Roman bust, lol :)

This has been quite the few weeks for anyone living along the Atlantic Ocean feeling the wrath of a number of terrible hurricanes! My heart goes out to all who have suffered any loss of life and home. We all need to band together to help in any way we can. I'm still trying to figure out a way I can help, but I may have to do it with flowers, so stay tuned!
My husband and his family have property in the Florida Keys and luckily they suffered only tree devastation and about two feet of seaweed along with the ocean floor flooding their garage. We are truly blessed!
And thus, after 8 knee operations, a life filled with sports and whole lotta fun, it became necessary for me to say adiós to my left knee (the right one in this picture :)
I have no idea what the occasion was for this picture, and why I'm in it with my sister (the one holding the rose) and all her friends, but little did I know this was the beginning of a loooong knee road! One chronically filled with crutches!

So after the surgery as I was forced to stay still, which is very hard for me! I contemplated life, read a couple of books, The Captain's Daughter and Ordinary Grace, and thought about flowers growing in my yard and at the farm, aster b., where I am part of a farm share.
 My husband kindly put the bed on the first floor and surprise gifts came along my way! Thanks to all my friends and secret gifters. I even found this fabulous rock at my doorstep from Marblehead Rocks Kindness! This is the coolest movement spreading cheer to all!
When you find a rock, you're supposed to take a picture where you found it and share the happiness on facebook! Here's mine and it happened to be a very busy day on the water off my porch!

So as I got better, and with the summer days waning, I knew I had to harvest what flowers were left and make something pretty! Little did I know that we would be dealing with yet ANOTHER hurricane off my New England home when making the arrangement! Hurricane José decided to say a little Olé that left us all scrambling to get our boats in safe places!
After getting my last farm share and foraging in my own garden, I took inventory of what I had and just went for it!
In my crooked (sorry!) picture, you can see that I placed the droopiest eucalyptus in the water to add some texture and to hide the stems.
With the remaining stem of eucalyptus, I snipped it into thirds and started the arrangement, making a background with the green.
I know this looks a little wonky at this point, but I added in some grasses, yarrow and pink (!) Queen Anne's Lace.
I added in some statice , the purple flowers, and and globe amarinth, the red balls.
Finally, I added in zinnias, marigolds and lisianthus with one sprig of delphinium. Voila! A fall arrangement that looks ready for a Rueben painting, but cheery nonetheless!
And FINALLY José  left us with beauty of his own in this spectacular sunset!!