Taking Stock For Fall

By | Decorating, Leslie's blog from the Nantucket Inquirer & Mirror | No Comments

This was the weekend for taking stock. The weather is turning slightly away from ultra muggy to bearable. I’ve actually gotten out my duvet cover and turned off the overhead fans. What I overlooked all summer is now glaring: the tiny spot on my white linen slipcovers, the one unlined drawer in the kitchen cabinet that drives me crazy because I ran out of lining paper just a strip short of finishing the job in the spring, and the stair treads that need to be repainted every year.
IMG_1672 A fall arrangement of dried flowers, orange snooker balls in a wooden trough (found in a second’s store), a painting by Nantucket artist Paul LaPaglia and a burnt orange painted folk art table from Spouter Gallery add a touch of fall color scheme to my living room. The reindeer candle holder from a yard sale is a year ‘round staple and has a twin on another table.
My summer clothes all need washing and put into plastic containers or clothes bags – go into a box to be sent to Key West in January. Why is it that every white t-shirt has a stain or spot I didn’t detect all summer? Everything in my house is assessed to see what should be replaced, refurbished, or is okay for another season.

All this “stock taking” precipitated an imminent off-island trip to the big city of Hyannis on the Cape. I hate to admit it, but all my basic needs can be fulfilled in this place where they have a Home Goods, a Dollar store, a K-Mart, a T.J. Max and Marshalls. In other words – I’m discount deprived.
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Best Time of Year

By | Leslie's blog from the Nantucket Inquirer & Mirror, Lifestyle | No Comments

I returned home from California to Nantucket’s best kept secret – end of summer. By the last week of August right through Columbus Day, the weather on Nantucket is spectacular! The ocean is warm enough to swim and it’s not too hot to do anything outdoors. My garden is thriving, even after this scorching summer thanks to Sally Obremski who’s kept it looking good. So now I’m enjoying some last days on the beach. One of my favorite spots is Stone’s Beach on Surfside. It’s still the way it’s always been, no perceivable erosion here. But the thing that always makes me smile is the little “free library.”

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east-meets-west-Failla-porch

East Meets West

By | Creative Ideas | No Comments

The picture of a simple farmhouse with cushioned chairs for relaxing are quite beckoning. This could be a property anywhere on Nantucket or in New England. The trees that surround the property are familiar, unlike the palm trees, for example in the south. But this is a small, family owned vineyard in Calistoga, California and the house is where they have regular wine tastings, open by appointment to the public. However, unlike any other winery in Napa Valley, this one is owned and run by a Nantucket born resident, Ehren Jordan, son of Nantucket real estate owner, Lucille Jordan.
Failla wine tasting bldg

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Peju-Vines

Wine, Wine, & More Wine

By | Creative Ideas | No Comments

When you come from Nantucket, driving through Napa Valley, with huge mountains everywhere you look, can be super overwhelming. In a word it’s awe-inspiring. Add to that, fields and fields of symmetrical rows of grape vines. It is just pre-season for the vineyards so everything is pretty quiet. Even though the pickers are nowhere in sight, we are told there is much going on behind the scenes. This area is farmland and all about one industry. Nantucket used to be that way at different times in its history. Imagine how quiet things were during the whaling era when every able bodied male was off to sea for months, even years at a time.

When I first came to Nantucket as a child, tourism was in its infancy and most year ‘rounders made a living from scalloping. The energy level of the town was what might be described as “laid back.” For three weeks we’ve made the small town of Calistoga, CA home. And now, after two weeks the pace I normally operate on is slowed down to where I am questioning if I will ever get back my “normal” energy level. Maybe this is what a vacation is for.

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Ferry Terminal in San Francisco

Away From Home

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“There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home!” chanted Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I agree. Whenever I go away from home I miss it like crazy. Not just the island, but the comforts of my own home For the first twenty-four hours away I am terribly homesick. But I leave over and over again because, let’s face it, travel broadens us, and once home we appreciate and relive the experience over and over again. We get to see how other people live in other parts of the country. We get to try different food, sometimes we experience different cultures. The variety of vegetation in other parts of the country always surprises me, as does the architecture. Right now I am in Calistoga California after a couple of days in San Francisco. We had lunch yesterday in Napa in a delightful restaurant. We sat outside on their patio and reveled in being tourists, something we don’t get a chance to do on Nantucket.
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outsider art

Outsider Art Comes Inside!

By | Books, Creative Ideas, Decorating, Media Coverage | No Comments

I’ve always been attracted to Outsider Art; self taught art by undiscovered raw talent. It is naive, often made by prisoners, the insane, poor, indigent, disables, black, reclusive, and by people living marginally, on the fringe of society. It has become a term to describe “different” from the expected, mainstream and acceptable. An example might be two small drawings hanging in the Whitney Museum. It is by a self taught artist named James Castle and they were drawn with the artist’s mix of soot and saliva as he had no money for, nor access to, traditional art supplies. Usually outsider art is surprising, leaving us with questions, wanting to know more about the circumstances under which the artist lives and creates, or did live, if no longer alive. We are more generous about acceptance when we learn that the art was born out of raw talent produced under dire circumstances. It tells us how compelling it was for the artist to express him or herself. And this fact alone makes us want to embrace the art. Further it is affordable and therefore accessible to everyday appreciators with limited funds. At least it always was
But lately I’m distressed to find “outside” coming “inside” so to speak.
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decoupage-card-box

Crafting

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Since I’ve been doing a lot of writing this summer I haven’t had much time for decoupage, except to make the wedding invitation plates that people order from me. I miss crafting. Summertime is a great time to have fun creating projects. However, for the past two years I’ve been designing decoupage boxes. Many years ago, when I began my career, my grandfather made small boxes from scraps of wood for me to decoupage. These boxes were beautifully designed and proportioned, but not of any particular special wood. Therefore, on their own they were not lovely. They were made to be painted and used for covering with my cutout designs. I still have about four or five dozen left in the raw and little, by little I am working on them. At first I thought I’d have a show at The Nantucket Looms where I have sold my boxes for over forty years. But, as I finish each one in my leisure time, after months of working on it, I can’t think of selling them.
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Outdoor Living

By | Creative Ideas, Entertaining, Lifestyle | No Comments

There’s always so much going on during the season that it’s hard to decide what to do. Kitchen tours, house and garden tours, red tie galas, Boston Pops at the Jetties, lectures, musical events, author readings and book signings, art gallery openings, the triathlon, and then of course all the outdoor fun like biking and tennis and golf and beaching that’s always available. But wait, Nantucket weather can be fickle so you have to reserve indoor activities like museum tours for those overcast days. So much to plan and guests too!

Vacationing can be work, for those of us who live here! It’s often hard to fit in the fun things we’d like to do, enjoy our guests, and meet up with friends we may only see in the summertime. Time is precious. I like to entertain casually on my deck. We start with drinks and apps outside and then, as the weather cools or gets a bit damp we move indoors for dinner. I can safely say I’m the only house in my neighborhood that has trees decorated with fairy lights.
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hydrangea-blue-blog

“What Makes The Hydrangeas So Blue?”

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Every summer at this time we all hear it at least once, “What Makes Nantucket Hydrangeas so blue?” We have pink and white colors but it’s the blue that knocks the socks off everyone. They ooh and aah and take lots of pictures. There are many theories, from the experts and the amateur gardeners. But when I contacted Graig Beni, owner and operator of Surfing Hydrangeas Nursery on Somerset Road, he said the color is affected by the relative acidity of the soil. Agents such as aluminum or iron will usually produce a bright blue color so we can assume that Nantucket soil gets all the credit. If you add aluminum to the soil they can go from pink to blue. An alkaline soil will produce flowers more pink.

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Last year my hydrangea bushes that border the back deck did not blossom. I chalked it up to maybe too much pruning in the fall. But then this year, I’ve got a bonanza of blossoms. It can’t be the result of our horrible winter. But I’m grateful for whatever reason, especially since the hudrangea bushes are not only very old but have been transplanted several times while doing work on my house. So I’m not exactly the expert to advse anyone how to get the best and bluest hydrangeas but I do know how to ask the experts which I did for my book, Nantucket Cottages & Gardens. No cottage garden is complete without a hydrangea bush.

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If you want to cultivate hydrangeas you can do better than taking the advice from the American Hydrangea Society. Yes, there really is such an organization and they are the last word in all things hydrangea. Here’s what they have to say about rooting cuttings from hydrangeas included in my book. I like these directions because they’re simple and easy to follow.

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Flower Boxes On Petticoat Row

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Isn’t Nantucket at it’s best right now? The window boxes all over town are brimming and gorgeous. There are people on the streets but it’s manageable. We still see friends and have to to stop for a chat. Yesterday I noticed a woman taking pictures of the front of my house. I have containers filled with flowers and they look pretty good for the little effort I put into them. She came right up onto my porch to shoot the flowers up close. I opened the door and said hello. She was quite chatty and complimentary. When she left I realized I was missing a photo op downtown. So, right then and there I decided it was time for my daily walk to town to do errands and snap some pictures. I was definitely not disappointed.
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