Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday Home Accents

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

Thanksgiving Buffets

Here are some fun ideas for how to make guests feel at home with Thanksgiving buffets.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Feature Story in Westchester Home

Exciting news! Westchester Home has run a feature on my nest in Ardsley-on-Hudson. Take a look and you can read about some of the stories and memories that make my home my home.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Furniture Sideboards: Unsung Heroes

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

The Case for Pillows

In my newest blog for Hooker Furniture, I talk about some ways to make pillows your best decorating friend. Take a read and let me know what you think!


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Making Home Ready For Autumn

The end of summer draws near and fall is in the air!

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

Etiquette for the Home Office

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

The New Work Space: Planning a Home Office

If you are interested in setting up a home office or looking to re-vamp your current workspace, be sure to read my latest blog for Hooker Furniture.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, July 22, 2011


I suspect the days in June were very rare for me indeed, as they seem to pass as if in slow motion. Too hot weather, too early at times, and then the perfect summer days that one wants never to end. And then there is the intensity of July! Is there enough iced-tea? Are the white shirts cool enough? Are the plants on the terrace getting enough water? July seems to ask a lot of us. Even getting to vacation locations has its imperatives.

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

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sunny Saturday Musings

I just saw an ad for a pale blue Fiat 500--and I am in love. It must bring back a memory when cars were pretty. Or maybe it's the thirst for blue hydrangeas that has me looking at the world through lilac-covered glasses.

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, April 27, 2011

Still Intrigued by Paper

Recently, I wrote about Molly Peacock's latest book and the awe inspiring works of Mrs. Delany. I have now read the book and become even more intrigued by the scholarship and the author's unique approach. I think it proves that one can become possessed by the beauty of the past and find a way to make it part of one's life.

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

Happy Spring!

Enjoy some springtime inspiration with sugar Easter eggs.

Happy spring, everyone!

Photo ©Wendi Schneider for Lindemeyer Productions Inc.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Many Thanks, Lynn Goldberg

What a total treat this morning to find a book from a publicist in my mail. I am always happy to receive a book, but this one takes me "over the moon," as one of my young staffers at Victoria used to exclaim.

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

Adventures in Living Part II

If you've ever dreamed about creating a beach house, be sure to read my latest blog entry for Hooker Furniture's Adventures in Living: The New England Beach House.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bulletin: Toshi Otsuki in Japan UPDATE

We've just heard that all of Toshi Otsuki's family is safe.

We are so grateful for this good news, but saddened for all those who are distressed at this very trying time.

Best wishes to you all,

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bulletin: Toshi Otsuki in Japan

We are all praying for the people of Japan. The news reports strike fear in our hearts for all, but especially those we know personally.

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


I have become a firm believer in the concept of providence in my life. In My First Best Friend, I included a section about how "chance" brought old friends together. This past week, I had an incident in my life that I think qualifies as providential.

When I was in college, I worked summers and vacations at a wonderful sandwich shop and bakery in Bridgeport, Connecticut. For readers of Packing for a Woman's Journey, you might recall the story I wrote about the staff and how supportive they were of me and my college years. Recently, for some reason I can't really explain, I decided to see if the bakery was still operating. I knew in my heart of hearts it was not--but there might be a historical reference online to refresh my mind as to the address. Certainly the city has changed.

I found a few references to ads that the Harkabus Bakery & Sandwich Shop has placed over the years--and then, astonishingly, a reference in a new book called Keeping the Feast. The author, Paula Butturini, recalled going there with her mother whenever her mother developed a yen for a cream cheese on date nut bread sandwich.

Like a duck on a junebug, I ordered the book--and decided to write an email to the author, who has a very good website. I asked Paula if she could guide me to the Harkabus reference, and I told her a little about me and my connection to this place which she described so affectionately. Paula wrote right back!

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.

Paula and I seemed to have a lot in common--including wonderful Italian grandfathers who brought drama to our appreciation of food and family. I feel that I know her--and hope that we can find a way to visit face to face one of these days.

I have to thank Providence and the internet for bringing me a new vision of the important things in life, and of what has been something I have always believed in: the power of love and the importance of memory in our lives. Do look into Paula's book. I guarantee you it will reward you in many ways. And if you love to cook, you will be humming in the kitchen, chopping away at garlic and sauteing rice in good olive oil in no time at all.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Musings in the Wind

It is not quite March and I have no desire to rush the seasons. But it has been so windy that I feel the Ides of March in my bones. I am sure Mother Nature has a snow or two in store for us still.

I receive so many warm memories from readers of this blog and lately from former staff members, that I am inspired to share others. I never wanted this journal to be a trip backward. But it seems that the past is definitely a prologue at times--as the recent post from Catherine Sieberling Pond reveals. She did indeed write her first story for Victoria and she has gone on to be a writer of books and many articles. Her recent book, The Pantry, is something to dip into--as one might in one's own pantry of recollections. We had a real pantry in the house I grew up in--a little room all its own--as well as a back stairs whose steps served as a kind of pantry space.

I am delighted to know of Catherine's book and her ongoing activities, and proud as punch that Victoria was her springboard. She also met the photographers for her book through her magazine connections. Bravo to all--and I am thankful that the magazine existed and continues to connect in such personal ways.

Thinking back, I am often reminded of the wonderful man who made it all possible. I speak, of course, of John Mack Carter. While I don't get to spend as much time with John as I used to when we worked together and the years following when a lunch at the 21 Club was such a highlight for me, I often rerun conversations in my mind as we talked about so many things. His insights were always a revelation.

Once, when John was introducing me, he said this: "As her boss I used to look over her shoulder, but now I hold her coat." I have held that close to my heart ever since. My husband once said that he thought I ought to publish our correspondence because it was always so interesting and often humorous. But the words remain between us.

I had an opportunity to salute John on his retirement. Many of the people spoke appropriately of his influence on their careers and his many accomplishments. I took another path to John. I will never forget a spunky fellow very early in the morning in Central Park, holding a megaphone to round up his staff to take part in The Race for the Cure to support research for breast cancer. He was the only magazine executive of his stature there and, of course, we had the biggest contingents. That was John, a champion of women's concerns and causes. That John Mack Carter was a force behind Victoria is no surprise.

And of course, "Mr.Carter" (as we called him) was the reason I became an avid tennis fan. He generously shared his seats every year at the U. S. Open and it was there that I adopted the young Pete Sampras. Generosity is not something that necessarily comes with publishing DNA.

There was a movement once upon a time to say that men should not edit women's magazines. It sounded as sexist to me then as it does now. People should edit the magazines they are qualified to do. John survived the assault on his qualifications, as well he should have. And it was he who saw the possibilities of a magazine like Victoria and looked over my shoulder long enough to have it come into being.

I'd be happy to hold his coat any day.

Perhaps the wind blows the dust from our thoughts. And let's bring back pantries and all their hidden delights.

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

Adventures in Living for Hooker Furniture

My newest blog entry for Hooker furniture was posted today - Adventures in Living. Maybe it will provide you with some inspiration to help transform your home into an urban loft or Parisian apartment.

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Winter Musings

How lovely the snow is--especially when one doesn't have to brave the elements to get about!

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.

It is a much smaller world in 2011 than it was in 1986. What we relied on magazines to do for us, now websites and blogs do, too. How very much our lives are enriched by so many wonderful talents coming from all over the world.