Ferry Terminal in San Francisco

Away From Home

By | Creative Ideas | No Comments

“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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By | Crafting | No Comments

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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“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.


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.


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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Everything’s coming up roses

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Roof roses sm
The roses are popping all over town. Everything looks good, smells good and feels good. Last Sunday we took part of the day off the go to the beach. All in all Summer is here.
We had our first beach day last Sunday and it was glorious. Of course Jon “found” perfect photos. The shadows of the fence at Surfside created the perfect pictures. Jon says, “the photos are always there, you just have to find them.” So if you’re out and about this is a great time to look for what’s all around us – a picture perfect island! Read More


4th of July

By | Creative Ideas, Entertaining, Holidays | No Comments

It’s the fourth and time for a red, white and blue celebration. Have a party. Dress up your table. The following are some quick and easy tried and true tips.


  1. When planning the food think color. For example there is nothing better than a white bowl filled with bright red strawberries and blueberries.
  2. For a barbecue use washcloths for napkins, white with blue or red stripes. Roll each one around the utensils and tie with a flag ribbon. Insert the rolled cloths into a bright red or blue paint bucket. This is one time when paper or plastic is totally acceptable.
  3. Another napkin idea is dishtowels. The over size is great for a barbecue and easy to launder. Choose the linen dishtowels in a red or blue check.
  4. For a table cover, I love to use quilts. A red and white or blue and white quilt is perfect for this holiday.
  5. Red roses or geraniums with blue Bachelor Buttons in a white pitcher for a centerpiece. Tie red, white, and blue grosgrain ribbon around the handle.
  6. My friend Rose always serves a salad Read More


By | Creative Ideas, Entertaining, Leslie's blog from the Nantucket Inquirer & Mirror | No Comments

At Home

When working on a book we always take a lot more photographs than we ultimately use. We look for 8 good shots in a house so we have choices for full page shots and detail shots as well as intimate shots of rooms. But ultimately there are always cuts just as the words also get edited for space. My books are usually 224 pages. There are always sacrifices. Do we make photos smaller so we can include more or do we cut words to make photos larger. The process of putting a book together once it’s been written and the photo have been taken is an exercise in compromise.

When I was in grad school, I had one of those teachers you remember all your life. She said, “If you want to be a writer, you have to learn to be an editor” So, you do the creative work and then you put all emotion aside and become the editor. The more unemotionally and professionally you can do this the better the finished project. It’s always hard. What’s worth keeping? What has to go?

I have a file of the photos that weren’t used in all of my books and now, with this blog I get to select from this group whenever I need an illustration.

The other day I was trolling through that file, One of Terry’s gorgeous photos popped up. It was taken on a beautiful summer day on the back deck at Ginny Kinney’s house on Silver St. Her daughter-in-law Lief had styled a table to suggest a lazy afternoon party. I think it would be a delightful theme for a bridal shower – “Come for cupcakes, strawberries and lemonade”.
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Nantucket Cottages

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

I’ve been home for three weeks and it’s hard to re-enter what I refer to as my real life. As I do my errands, shopping at the Stop and Shop, the post office, bank, etc. I bump into people who have their own tales of woe about this past winter. Mostly they survived and seem a little shell-shocked. – not quite believing that the worst is over. I’ve decided that “How was your winter?” is not a good way to greet people.

Many folks were able to get away for a brief respite from the relenting weather. What started out as a novelty, a time to hunker down and enjoy being at home, turned into “enough all ready!” by the third big storm. Coming back when it’s all over seems a bit like cheating. My property doesn’t look too bad and miracle of miracles our car started right up when we turned the key in the ignition.

Now I too am embracing the spring and with it a new book launch is about to happen. This is the hard part of my work. The planning, the execution of it, is what I enjoy. Promoting a book, planning talks and coordinating book signings is harder. All my writer friends agree. We are used to being behind the scenes. We are cowardly, hiding behind our names printed on the jacket of our books. Coming out, so to speak, is a bit harder. Talking about a book is always fun because it’s a chance to share the experience of how it was created, and a chance to relive that experience. I’ll be sitting at a table for the Nantucket Book Festival on June 20. On the 19th at 2:00 in the library park I’ll be talking about how this particular book came about.. Producing a book is an exciting project and, I am often asked how I find the houses for my style books and how we go about planning the photographs and interviews and all the behind the scenes tidbits. In July Terry and I will present a slide show in the Great Hall. Two of the articles featured in the first two issues of Nantucket Today magazine are on cottages included in the book.

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