Wednesday, November 30, 2011
The holiday season is upon us and I'm thinking about decorating and how to make home holiday-happy. I've shared some of these insights in my latest blog for Hooker Furniture, inspired by accents from their collections.
Good wishes and good cheer to all!
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Friday, October 7, 2011
In this season when entertaining moves inside the house, let's take a moment and give the sideboard its due. In my newest blog for Hooker Furniture, I propose some ways to enjoy this often overlooked, but very handy, piece of furniture.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Thinking about some new accent furniture that reflects the color and tone of the season? I explore some options from Hooker Furniture in my latest Hooker blog.
May you read and be inspired!
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Happy Wednesday, friends. Here is my latest blog on Home Office Etiquette for Hooker Furniture. Home offices are more popular than ever as many corporations are finding it more cost effective for employees to work from home. Here are some tips to keep your office humming while your ensuring that your home remains your sanctuary.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
And so I feel summer-logged. Perhaps it is something like being becalmed and hoping that a gentle wind will catch the sails and set you free. It isn't that I have not had "a good summer" so far. But basically, I am not a summer person. When fall comes, I feel like it is my season as it is quieter.
I have written about the incredible new book Keeping the Feast. I hope some of you have delved into it. Last weekend on a beautiful terrace I met the author, Paula Butturini. I am now rereading the book, seeing Paula on the pages as I had not before. There are people who must be born to take the hands of others and light the way. I think Paula is one of those. And maybe writing talent is given to those who truly have something to say. I would hope that all writers put this to the test.
Every once in awhile, there is a time that marks us forever. I remember being in Colette's garden in France on a rainy day in May and never have forgotten it. The meeting with Paula and her husband John Tagliabue reminds me of that occasion. That it was our wedding anniversary had special meaning, too. The hosts for Paula's book signing were former colleagues and friends of long standing and the aura of friendship was everywhere among the profusion of blue hydrangeas.
Paula is a spare woman with intense blue eyes. I had seen her picture, but I could not immediately pick her out of the crowd--a new hairstyle I think. She has a soft voice--one you can imagine reading a bedtime story to a child. But as she spoke and read from her book, there was a strength in the words I rarely get when author's read from their books.
Yesterday, I met Tricia Foley for lunch and then we went to Lincoln Center to see the production of War Horse. I can't remember the last time a production so engrossed me. The play, which originated at the National Theater in London, won the TONY for best play of the year--and I don't think anyone could disagree. I am not a theater critic, but the sight of these huge puppets manipulated at times by three and four people, was awesome. The story is about the horses that served in the First World War--some bought from farmers in England. One such horse was beloved by a lad who gets himself into battle to find him. It is based on a children's novel, so I am sure you can figure out the ending. I did find the aspects of war upsetting--but then they should be, shouldn't they? This is not a play where you leave the theater tapping your foot or humming. It is a story that stays in the veins.
Stay cool, wherever you are, in more ways than one.
Summer images from a recent photo shoot by Luciana Pampalone
War Horse image from http://www.warhorseonbroadway.com/
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
And speaking of lilacs--my friend Sue in San Francisco sent a photograph of a bunch of fresh ones that she said reminded her of spring in her native Iowa. It is one of the beautiful signs of spring in the Midwest, as in many other parts of the country. I recall a drive through Vermont at lilac time and the air was perfumed by the profusion of flowers. Rochester, New York, has lilacs in abundance--and after a long and snowy upstate New York winter, they are truly welcome. This year it was May 11-20--so put it on your calendar for 2012. In Highland Park there are 120 acres to enjoy.
We have had such a siege of rain here in the northeast. So I am particularly pleased listening to Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue this morning. Oh, that first note on the clarinet is a tonic in itself.
Another rite of spring--lunch with my dear friend Mary. We have known each other "forever," but don't get to see each other that often: Mary lives in Florida for part of the year and I am back and forth to the Midwest. Just when we thought life was getting to be simpler, it doesn't seem so. We ventured to Tribeca in Manhattan and were hosted by my good friend Gerard. His jewel of a restaurant, Stuzzicheria, is a haven in the bustling downtown New York scene. It might remind you of an afternoon in Nantucket, but with an Italian flavor. Several of the table were 1930's enamel-topped, like the ones everybody's grandmother had. Fresh flowers, bowls of fresh fruit...I was right at home. My favorite desert is his olive cake. (I have the recipe--would you like it?) It's made with the zest of an orange and a spoonful of ice cream comes along side.
I have been thinking about Tricia Foley this weekend as she is having her open air General store in Yaphank on Long Island this weekend. Trish and Nantucket go hand-in-hand in my mind. Her fresh style reminds one of the clean sand and white sails along the coast. Trish can take a piece of string or a pebble and make something elegant out of it. Do visit her shop online. You'll get a taste of her enchantments.
And that brings me to musing about Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea. Is it not a book one should reread every season? At Victoria, I got to know her lovely daughter Reeve and recommend the book she wrote about her mother, No More Words: A Journal of My Mother, Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The intriguing title comes from a poem by AML in The Unicorn & Other Poems.
We were privileged to print some of Reeve's recollections in Victoria, as well. I so remember how she learned to respect her mother when she was writing.
Here is a quote that from Gift from the Sea that seems so appropriate for a time of year when we look to the future of land and sea and to refreshing our lives:
"The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere."
The natural world is bound by truth and it is to writers and thinkers like AML that we look to help us understand.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Hooker Furniture asked me to post some tips on their blog about how to achieve West Coast Style at home using one of their new collections.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
And then comes this from a friend--a reference to the current exhibit of the work of Isabelle de Borchgrave at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Isabelle was once a designer in residence at Victoria and has since gone on to dazzle us with her painted paper creations of costume. I have several of her books and when I take them out I am always truly amazed that human hands can create such beauty from a simple material like paper.
In Isabelle's first such venture, she worked with Rita Brown, then the costume director of the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario, Canada. I had previously met Rita when we did a story on the theater. It made me so pleased to see two such talents involved in a unique project.
Do not miss going to the site to see what Isabelle has now wrought. It is called Pulp Fashion. I'm not sure I love the title because it seems too simple a word for such miraculous transformations. Isabelle fashions the paper and paints the defining details. The exhibit is a history of costume design relying on the dress depicted in paintings from museums around the world, as well as the more contemporary classics of Dior and Chanel.
One could wish for a meeting between Mrs. Delany and Isabelle. Intricacy is their stock in trade. Isabelle's vision brings to our day the spirit of Mrs. Delany. How fortunate we are.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Saturday, April 9, 2011
The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life's Work at 72. I have not really read a word yet, but the cover, the cover line, and the subject matter having me hastening to my reading chair and settling in for a good long spell. It's not a very pretty day, although I see just the first brush of yellow on the forsythia bushes and the magnolia outside my window is promising blossoms soon. So read on I will.
I know the words "Mrs. Delany" will gladden many hearts among you. How we have reveled in her paper garden--floral collages of such delicacy and beauty that they have lasted for centuries. As I open the book, on one page there is a simple black and white graphic of a pair of scissors. Divine.
A small selection reads:
After making that vital imaginative connection between paper and petal, she lifted the eighteenth-century equivalent of an X-acto blade ...or a pair of filigree-handled scissors--the kind that must have had a nose so sharp and delicate you could almost imagine it picking up a scent. With the instrument alive in her still rather smooth-skinned hand, she began to maneuver, carefully cutting the exact geranium petal shape from the scarlet paper.
Then she snipped out another....commencing the most remarkable work of her life.
I do wish that the floral illustrations had a bit of gloss, but it is a small desire. I cannot wait to tear into the story of a life whose lasting work began in the third quarter of her life.
Poet Molly Peacock is the author of this tome of almost 400 pages. You can visit her website to learn more about her. Or look at the British Museum's collection of Mrs. Delany's work online. And, of course, do look at the website for the book.
Oh, and again, thanks to a publicist who put the right book in the right hands. How did you know, Lynn?
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Toshi Otsuki, our incomparable photographer for Victoria, and his wife Michiko are safe in their home near Ito City. They retired there several years ago, and both keep active gardening, enjoying their home and pets, and with Toshi's singing career.
I know many of the Victoria family have been worried about him. There are Otsuki family members who were in the hardest hit areas of northern Japan, and we continue to pray for them. Survivors will have a long road of recovery ahead of them.
It had been my intention to visit Japan this month as I have been thinking about going to see Toshi and Michiko for several years. Our family's comings and goings didn't make it possible. But now I am especially committed. Toshi sent a DVD as a Christmas card this year and it brought tears to my eyes to recall all the years we worked so successfully together.
In Toshi's video is a blow-up of one of the photographs he took for Victoria. It was a cover--a woman in 1920's dress with a fetching hat. It has always been one of my favorites, and I was pleased to see how it has stayed in his life and home. I have an enlarged photograph of a woman with roses in my apartment in Westchester. Toshi's very best work was in fashion and in the garden. Putting him around a flower was like seeing the beginning of a love affair. (I have been thinking of ways to bring Toshi's incredible record of Central Park for over 30 years in every season to the public.)
And so I am very relieved that his home is intact and his garden about to bloom into spring. But to all the people of Japan who are not so fortunate, we send our heartfelt prayers.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Paula's book is not just about food memories of growing up Italian in Bridgeport and what that meant in her life, especially the food memories. It is a testament to the daily eloquence of preparing and enjoying meals in many circumstances. I hope you will look into the book as it is an inspiration as to how to deal with what most of us would deem almost insurmountable. Her experiences as a foreign correspondent are not ones that most of us would encounter. But she talks to her readers in a vernacular of fruit, vegetables, and the ingredients that sustain us.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Photos: Nancy and John at the launch party for Victoria in the garden at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum; Nancy and John at a Victoria event.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
There is something about being blanketed by white that brings about a sense of peace and calm. It is a time to enjoy the books that Christmas presents brought and brew up a tea to keep one company for an afternoon.
And so what thoughts has this time brought forth: Twenty-five years ago with a broken arm from a slip on an icy sidewalk in Ames, I was at work on a concept for a new magazine. It is a strange word, but in the magazine business then, a proposal in the shape of a magazine was called a "dummy."
I can't even recall how many times we changed things. And when I say we, I am talking about primarily three of us--the nucleus of the staff that was to become Victoria. We wanted to have a perfect statement for a magazine like no other that celebrated women's lives in all aspects. I had long felt that we were editing magazines to women's roles rather than to the things that had always been important to women and I believed would never change.
Ann and Bryan, the twosome of the threesome, were at my apartment for a birthday brunch for Bryan recently. New grandparents, they have gone on to other careers since leaving Victoria. Ann is an executive in a nursery school service in New York City after going back to school for graduate degrees in early childhood education. Bryan has taken his skills back to the Meredith Corporation, where we all three started out. How nice it was on brisk day to enjoy my husband's specialty--a ham, cheese, and potato gratin (with thanks to Julia Child)--have fireside time and think about how our lives have changed in this quarter of a century.
I am sorry to report that our wonderful Helen Killeen, who many readers may recall ran our office, has had some health concerns. During her tenure at Victoria, she took every reader concern to heart and tracked down all kinds of information, no matter how small the request. Victoria without Helen would be unthinkable in those years. Her nephew, Steve, who also worked for us through his school days, doing errands, working on photo shoots, and helping in the office, is now the dad of four! Helen is in rehab and we all send our love and wish her well.
Helen and Steve are just two examples of how our Victoria family grew over the years.
In my winter musings, I am very grateful for the creativity and dedication that so many brought to a project that started out with an idea.
I have just had a nice email exchange with Julian at Meg Rivers cakes in England. In an early issue, we visited Meg to learn of her wonderful bakery and shared the recipe for her almond tea cake with our readers. Julian has carried on running the bakery with Meg's recipes after her death some years ago. I have ordered cakes now and then, and recently got back to the tradition by having an assortment of their cakes--as mini cakes--for Valentine's Day gifts. How delightful it was to get the message that Julian was off to Chipping Campden to mail my cakes to me! We both have fingers crossed that they get to the US in a timely manner and in good shape.
I was inspired by the cottages at Chipping Campden for my recent blog for Hooker Furniture. I've been asked to suggest some wonderful "dream houses" and the very first inspiration I had was for an English country cottage. Sign on for the series--and maybe be inspired to create your own living adventure. Home is where we can make dreams come true, no matter what our geographical address.