31 July 2009

Coming up...Long Island Pig Roast

We are heading today, to the North Fork of Long Island for our annual visit with our friends Lisa, Dan, Nick and Russ (et al assorted family). Here's a little preview of the pig roast we'll be doing Saturday night - Jack has just slathered said pig with garlic sauce. We peeled, crushed and minced at least 8 0r 10 whole heads of garlic.
We got the pig at our local Chinese grocery store, where we were able to go back through the kitchen and pick out the pig we wanted, from several hanging in the walk-in. This guy weighs in at 51 lbs.

Stay tuned for a full story on the cochon next week. Have a great weekend and enjoy life, wherever you are!

Artists Paint at the Hingham Square Farmers Market

Sorry I have been incommunicato for a couple of weeks - so busy! I've still had time to enjoy life, but not to write about it. Here's a great video of the event at our local farmers market last week.
Now this is the way life should always be!

14 July 2009

Joyeux quatorze juillet!!

Joyeux quatorze juillet!
Happy Bastille Day!
Aux Champs Elysees

La Tour Eiffel!

10 July 2009

Sunny Forecast for Farm Day - This Sunday

(Photo by Sofia Piel, 2007)

As I mentioned in a recent post, Slowfood Seacoast Farm Day 2009 will be held this Sunday, June 12, at Osprey Cove Organic Farm, the farm/home of my sister- and brother-in-law, in Madbury, NH.

The weather forecast looks terrific, so do plan to visit if you're in the area (don't forget your picnic!) Click here for the schedule of events, plus directions.

Drake and I are planning our entry to the pie baking contest. I can't tell you what it will be, yet, as that will depend on what is most fresh and tempting-looking at the Hingham Farmers Market this weekend.

See you down on the farm!

09 July 2009

Favorite Decorating Books

Is there any greater pleasure than sitting down with a beautiful, full-color book on interior design? I think not (although I must say, reading cookbooks comes in at a close second.) There are so many incredibly inspirational books on decorating, that I have amassed quite a library over the years. And I only buy the ones that really appeal to me - books I know I will use and refer to over and over again. It's the same with both decorating and cookbooks - there are just too many good ones to waste shelf space on any that aren't really reflective of one's passions.

Besides being a visual feast for the eyes, favorite tomes become like old friends over the years; still, I always find some new detail or idea I had previously missed when I open an old friend for perhaps the 50th time...so familiar and yet so new!

The following is a short list of some of the decorating books I love most. These are books that, to me, are practically perfect in every way - gorgeous photography, descriptive and enlightening text, lots of little details as well as large-scale room shots. Of course, these are books that fit right in with my own style - mostly French country - definitely all loaded with La Joie de Vivre. Enjoy!

Charles Faudrée is one of my favorite decorators. I don't think I've ever "met" a room of his that I wouldn't be happy to move right into. His style is quintessential French country, charming and elegant, colorful and easy-going.

You know when you find a decorator you like, almost any book by or about that individual is sure to inspire. This is true, for me, with Charles Faudree, as well as with Carolyne Roehm and Charlotte Moss. Both of these talented ladies have been a big influence on me. Both can move from one classic style to another with aplomb (depending mostly on the location of the home they are designing.) Both create rooms that are lush with comfort and homey details - classic without being stuffy. Here are a few of my favorite books by Carolyne Roehm:

And two of my favorite publications by Charlotte Moss:

Perhaps my favorite duo in interior design today, is that of the amazing William Diamond and Anthony Baratta. I can spot a room of theirs instantly, in magazines. And fortunately, Diamond Baratta Design has published a fabulous book showcasing some of their best work. What inspires me most about them is their ability to take classic American (and some European) country and then ratchet it up several notches - enlarging motifs, brightening colors, expanding on themes to make them more interesting and just a little different from the traditional look you might have been expecting.

Great news - Diamond Baratta Design has a new publication due to be released in October! I can't wait to see it. I know it will not disappoint.

Four more books complete today's list of favorites. They are, again, books I can look at frequently, and know I can always count on finding new ideas just popping off their pages.

I just adore everything Cindy Rinfret does! This book is loaded with gorgeous pictures.
I consider it a necessity in my library.

Well, I think I'll sign off now...I feel the lure of some good reading and a glass of vin rouge!

08 July 2009

Hingham Farmers Market - Get Fresh Twice a Week

It feels like a little bit of Europe in New England. The growing (no pun intended) Hingham Farmers Market is now open for business twice a week - on Saturdays in their traditional location at the Hingham bathing beach, and now also, on Wednesdays in Hingham Square, just outside the door of my shop.

Nothing beats the look, taste and smell of locally grown produce, freshly picked just hours before, at the height of its ripeness. And it's so much more satisfying to buy from the people who produced it, than to purchase at the supermarket, the "same thing" which came from Peru or some other place half way around the world, and was picked weeks before when it wasn't ripe, and is therefore relatively flavorless.

Some pictures of the Saturday Market (last September):

Kathleen Looney sells annuals and perennials

Sheila Augusta with her tapenade, pesto and other homemade sauces/dips
The taste of her tapenade brings me right back to Provence!

Lovely Lissa buying fresh corn and beans

Mary & Fran check out the gorgeous cauliflower

Some photos of the Wednesday Market (last week):

Produce and smiles from Freitas Farms

Fresh baked goods from Big Sky Bakery

Lipinski Farm Stand

Strawberries that would later go into my tarte (recipe below)

Happy and healthy shoppers

Sheila's basil pesto, sun-dried tomato pesto, traditional tapenade and olive/fig tapenade

I bought a number of items at the market last Wednesday and ended up making a divine strawberry tarte the next night, combining berries from two farmers (not for additional flavor, but just to support both stands).

The finished tarte tasted like summer!


Start with this quick and easy Pastry Crust recipe from David Lebovitz.

While the crust is cooking, make the Creme Patissiere:

In a heavy saucepan, stir until scalding: 2 cups milk (whole milk or mixture of light milk and cream) with the seeds scraped from 1/2 a vanilla bean

In the top of a double boiler (I like to use a copper bowl over a pot of boiling water - the bowl is easier to whisk in with its sloping sides), whisk together until thick and very pale yellow: 5 egg yolks and 1/2 cup superfine sugar

Into the eggs, whisk 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, followed by the hot milk in steady, slow stream. Continue whisking over medium high heat, until the mixture is thick and smooth. then lower the flame and continue whisking for another minute.

Remove from heat and stir in 2 tbls. unsalted butter

Cover with plastic to prevent a skin from forming and chill.

Slice the tops off the 1 pint strawberries and lightly toss with superfine sugar (and if desired, a light dousing of Grand Marnier, Eau de Peche or other liqueur), which will give the assembled tarte a nice glistening finish.

After the crust has baked and cooled, spoon the Pastry Creme into the shell, smooth with a spatula and top with the strawberries. Serve within a few hours.

Over the next months, I'll be sharing recipes from the various farmers, bakers and other local food vendors who make the Hingham Farmers Market such a bountiful place to shop.

The HFM logo - designed by my husband, Jack Dickerson

06 July 2009

Decorating With COLOR: Part I

Truly, I do appreciate the peaceful calm of a neutral or an all white room. For some beautiful examples, see this post on New Orleans designer and French antiques maven, Gerrie Bremermann, from Joni Webb, herself a terrific decorator, as well as the talented writer of the popular blog, Cote de Texas.
An English cottage from Cote de Texas

Joni's own home, which is frequently featured on her blog:

...is a gorgeous mix of soothing neutrals, as are homes of her clients, such as this charming vignette:

(...et bien sur, I adore all the French country references in Joni's decor!)

Or check out this Cote de Texas post on the home of Wisteria catalog owner, Shannon Newsom (as featured in Veranda Magazine, which is edited by Shannon's mother-in-law, Lisa Newsom.)

Home of Wisteria's Shannon Newsom

So...you can see that I do appreciate subtle neutrals........

However, I simply CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT COLOR - and lots of it! Whether a room is decorated with a group of colors, or in a monochromatic scale, to me, color is what makes the room come alive. Some of my absolute all-time favorite fabric designers are those who are not afraid of either color or pattern, and usually do use both together, with smashing effect.

For instance, I have adored Manuel Canovas since I was in perhaps 6th or 7th grade, and viewed his Paris apartment, in my mom's House & Garden magazine (which I avidly devoured on a monthly basis). His home, with its high ceilings and tall windows, was full of his own fabrics: on the furniture, walls, everywhere. His master bedroom was completely done in his oversized tropical fruit print, Pali, in blue on white.

Pali - still fresh after 40+ years

I couldn't get over how dramatic the prints were, how bold his palette. While Canovas, himself no longer owns the company bearing his name, his original designs are still printed and sold - and are still as fresh and vibrant today as they were over 40 years ago! Fortunately for us, Cowtan & Tout now owns the company and also continues to add new patterns reflective of original Canovas style.

Joe Nye used Pali for these pillows

Gerrie Bremermann used Pali for this loveseat

Some of the luscious colors coming from Manuel Canovas these days

Today, Manuel Canovas (the man, not the company) designs under the name Lorca (his mother's maiden name) which is owned by Osborne & Little, and produces some of the most gorgeous fabrics you could ever hope to see! This picture of Saskia does not do it justice. It is a very heavy fabric and the tulips and leaves are all completely embroidered. It is, in a word, spectacular.

Lorca's Saskia

I am also passionate about the fabric designs of Dorothy Draper, whose legacy is perpetuated by her long-time assistant - now owner of Dorothy Draper Design - Carlton Varney. Through his line, Carlton V, he has revived several of Draper's fabrics and wallpapers from her heyday as a society designer in the 1940's, only slightly tweaking the colors to fit better into today's interiors.

Dorothy Draper's original fabric, Rhododendron, as seen above in Mint, has been re-released by Carlton V, in a gorgeous aqua. I was so inspired by this bold and colorful print that I used it as the basis for my entire dining room scheme at the Newport Showhouse Guild's 2008 showhouse in Narragansett, RI.

Close-up of Carlton V's updated version
Trimmings from Highland Court are just plain FUN

(Photo by Michael J. Lee)

The amazing aqua sea glass chandelier and sconces -
perfect crowning glory for this colorful room

Keeping to a palette of aqua, lime and raspberry, I used other fabrics in this room from China Seas (the lime zebra print & the raspberry cheetah print) which are colorful enough to share the stage with Draper & Co.'s Rhododendron, as well as vibrant lime and raspberry silks, which I had my upholsterer combine on the Louis XVI style chairs. The tailored tablecloth is Monterey Woven Texture in Sea by Brunschwig & Fils. My friend, the very talented Chris Smith, glazed and stenciled the walls in several shades of aqua. The gorgeous bordered Wilton carpet is raspberry with white accents.

I love this room, and had so much fun putting it together, since the colors and tones here just exude happiness! I am still amazed that it could be at once so lively, and yet calming.

I was also invited to design the guest bedroom and bath suite in this same house, for which I went all out with Brunschwig & Fils's collections from Spring '07 and '08. the colors and the fabulous French country motifs were so inspirational.

(Photo by Michael J. Lee)

(Photo by Michael J. Lee)

I personally mixed this wall color to compliment the fabrics in the room. While the paint is not an exact hue in any of the fabrics, it is a sort of melding of several of the colors and works overall. I spent a couple of hours getting just the perfect shade of periwinkle. As with the dining room, this palette is both exciting and soothing at the same time. (It's also an extension of the ocean view from the room's wonderful big windows.)

Detail of Brunschwig & Fils fabrics on custom headboard

Settee in more B & F fabric & trims

The bathroom in this suite showcases a matching wallpaper and fabric, again by Brunschwig & Fils. To enhance the colorful shell and vine toile, I glued rosy mauve toned scallop shells onto the homeowner's mirror. Then, I had cosmetic bags and towels embroidered in matching colors. Here again, notice how the periwinkle of the ribbons is neither the blue nor the violet of the toile, but something in between, which goes so well even if it doesn't exist in the actual print.

(Photo by Michael J. Lee)

In my own dining room, below, historic hand painted murals are enhanced by woodwork in another custom paint color, this time pulling out the various blue/greens in the walls. Once again, I submit that it is worth several hours or even days of one's time to concoct just the perfect shade of paint, as it will give years of enjoyment.

My living room and kitchen, below, will be featured in detail, soon, but these shots will prove (in case you still doubt it) that I adore saturated color in home decor:

(Photo by Nan & Monty Abbott)

(Photo by Nan & Monty Abbott)

I have many more photos (my own and the work of other designers) which I'll show in future posts, glorifying the power of COLOR. It's a visual stimulation that can act in so many ways on our mood and outlook on life! The next time you are in a room with lots of color, let it wash over you, and think about how the tones in that room make you feel. I think it's impossible not to be affected by color.
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