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photo from the interwebs

9.4.15 Labor Day

I love everything about this image; to me it conveys what is best about summer, from those fat bolsters to the surrounding green to her bare, brown calves. My hope for all of us is that, during this last weekend of the official season, we find the time, place and inspiration to capture a few moments of true peace and reflection. I'm going to share with you some wonderful reads, but just file them away for later if you're going to get outside and unplug. I'll be camping out at the lake with my husband, fortifying myself with a big dose of nature. Fall is on its way, and with it comes that rush of energy and a bittersweet longing that begins now.

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3.30.15 Ice Ice Baby

Our tiny cottage has been caught in the frigid grasp of Old Man Winter for months now. His icy breath penetrates every nook and cranny, seeping into our very bones. The spring equinox arrived without much fanfare, just an incipient thaw that seems to have frozen mid-trickle. But change is coming. The light is different, quicker and clearer, and the cold air is scented with a damp optimism. Anticipication mounts, becoming almost unbearable. Before we surrender entirely to the frenzied bacchanal of spring, let's take a moment to give the Old Man his due.

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photos by gluttonforlife

3.6.15 March Hot Links

The guy who plows our driveway is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Every time it snows, he comes by and makes a huge mountain at the end of our front walk. I guess it hasn't occurred to him that we actually leave the house. At any rate, after the recent snowfall, there was a wall nearly four feet high and almost as wide. It was so wet and heavy that heaving every shovelful was a considered effort. Such a sisyphean task is what passes for a good workout here in the boondocks. And someone in my yoga class told me to spray the shovel with Pam to prevent the snow from sticking. Who am I and how did I get here?

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photos courtesy of Blooming Dream

11.17.14 Naturally Beautiful

I have known Suzinn Weiss for well over 20 years and she seems to grow more creative and vital as time goes on. Though originally from the east coast, she headed west for college and took to the light and open spaces. After earning an MFA at Parsons in New York, she moved to Portland, Oregon, and there began her love affair with gardening. She turned her artist's eye to designing lush landscapes and it was the amazing fragrances that rose up from these gardens that inspired her latest venture. For Blooming Dream, Suzinn creates small-batch body oils and natural perfumes in oil or alcohol bases, using organic, fair trade and sustainable materials wherever possible. Her wonderful efforts have been rewarded with many fans (of which I am one, of course), as well as a silver medal at the 2014 San Francisco Fragrance Salon for Top Artisan Perfumer and a gold medal at the 2013 Seattle Fragrance Salon for Best Ingredient Combinations. I jokingly call her a "plantaholic," but it is her love and appreciation for the beauty and healing power of the natural world that makes her fragrances so special. If you're looking to support small, artisanal businesses this holiday season (who isn't?), Blooming Dream is an excellent choice.
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photos by gluttonforlife

11.14.14 November Hot Links & Thanksgiving Recipes

Nothing says Thanksgiving quite like a sheet pan full of scarlet cranberries, richly spiced and roasted to caramelized perfection. Unless perhaps it's that tidal wave of panic that starts to consume you when you realize hordes of relatives will be descending on your home with all their neuroses and dysfunctions fully primed. I'd be curious to know how many of you are cooking the feast this year and how many will be dining elsewhere. Leave a comment below and let me know, and you just may get a jar of my favorite St. John chutney in time to slather on your slice of (hideously dried-out) turkey breast. For now, I've compiled some tried-&-true recipes to get you started thinking about a menu. As I think you know, I am a steadfast advocate of planning ahead. It decreases stress exponentially and helps you budget your time and energy so you're not utterly depleted when the day is over (or just beginning).
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iPhotos by gluttonforlife

10.27.14 Mood Indigo

This weekend I attended a workshop to learn how to dye with indigo. It was put together by L'Ecole des Beaux Arts, an arist supply and housewares store founded by Brooklyn artist Sara Moffat, and held in a lovely, airy space upstairs at Isa restaurant on Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg. For a couple of years now, I have been very focused on the idea of learning to dye with natural dyes, and have gone so far as to acquire several books on the subject, and even grow a few relevant plants in my garden, but I never seemed to be able to find the time to launch myself into an actual project. So, when I found out about this opportunity (on Instagram!), I signed up right away. In just a couple of hours, I was able to learn a bit about this beautiful pigment, explore some shibori/tie-dye techniques and come away with a couple of transformed pieces of clothing.

Being in Brooklyn on a Saturday, also meant I was able to visit Marlow & Daughters, a favorite market; have oysters and salad sitting alone at the bar at Marlow & Sons; and visit Brooklyn chocolatier Mast Brothers, where I was dismayed to learn they are no longer selling their enormous chocolate tablet, but did inhale the unbelievably intense smell of cacao beans being roasted right there. In addition to their elegant factory (tours are available), they have also opened a new Brew Bar, where you can indulge in hot- or cold-brewed chocolate.
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photos by gluttonforlife

6.30.14 June Hot Links & a Summer Giveaway!

Nature is orchestrating her botanical display with flawless timing, as usual. Just as the irises are fading, the peonies explode and by the time they're drooping, here come the elderflowers and milkweed blossoms! In the fields and hedgerows, wild berries are setting up and soon we will be vying for them with the birds, chipmunks and foxes. Our neighbor's enormous jasmine bushes that have (happily) grown up and over our dividing fence are in full bloom and their dazzling perfume fills every corner of our little cottage. The garden grows by leaps and bounds every night as we sleep. Carpenter ants seem to have broken ground on a demolition project inside the window frame behind our bed and their incessant gnawing is rather horrifying. (The exterminator is on his way.) It's officially summer! To celebrate, I'm sharing my latest list of obsessions and recommendations...and I've got a delicious giveaway for one lucky reader...
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house & garden photos by george billard; food photos by gluttonforlife

6.17.14 Outside In

This is summer upstate: Tiny hummingbirds perched on the branch of the redbud tree, their scarlet throats glistening in the morning sun. Thick hops vines twining up the barn. Rising early to the impossibly loud birdsong and air so fresh it's like a cool hand on a fevered brow. Lazy dinners in the screened-in porch, as the sky darkens and the fireflies wink. The hot thrill of bear sightings. Ticks, ticks, everywhere. The sound of ice in the cocktail shaker announcing the end of the workday. Cold cherries. Shades of green so various the mind boggles. Whole fish on the grill. Canoe trips across the reservoir to the waterfall. Hands plunged into the damp earth. Foraging for wild berries. Memories of summers past—camp, swimming holes, fresh corn, cookouts, family picnics. Nostalgia, penetrating and bittersweet. Let me take you down...
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photos by gluttonforlife

1.23.14 Armed & Dangerous (& January Hot Links)

I know you're probably expecting more posts about the Oaxaca trip, and I promise those are forthcoming, but my re-entry has been a little wobbly so I'm trusting you'll bear with me. Yesterday was my birthday and the evening before I hosted a "suprise" dinner party that was the final celebration of G turning 50 earlier this month. I use the quotation marks because evidently I am not as sneaky and clever as I thought. Anyway, it was a fantastic multi-course meal at Momofuku Ssam Bar that culminated with beautifully tender and crisply lacquered rotisserie ducks presented with Bibb lettuce, scallion pancakes and all the trimmings. (Incidentally, if you live in New York, the "large format" dinners that Momofuku offers are a great value and a marvelous way to dine with a big group.)

My own birthday celebration was a bit quieter, though I was inundated with love and good wishes (especially on Facebook - one great reason to join) and I was treated to a delicious lunch at the new Gotham West Market. More on that later, as well as details on my favorite present, featured above, and an assortment of links for you to explore and enjoy.
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photos by george billard

12.27.13 Auld Lang Syne

Oh, the feasting! There is nothing like gathering with friends over an elaborate meal to make spirits soar, especially as the years pass, the relationships deepen and the tradition solidifies. Christmas Eve at Beaver Dam is now something to look forward to every year. The house, with its incredibly high ceilings, skillfully composed lighting and ever-changing array of eclectic furnishings and artwork, is meant for parties and really adds to the festive mood. (Speaking of adding to the festive mood, Susan K, you are the winner of the beautiful caviar spoons! Please send your address to me at gluttonforlifegmail.com. The Grand Holiday Gift Extravaganza is now officially over for the season.) This year, we again created a menu of multiple small-plates courses, a la minute cooking that we enjoy eating standing together around the kitchen island, very informal and friendly. This time, we got inspired by the idea of the Feast of the Seven Fishes...except we had a ham. Tomo started things off with perfect little rounds of toast topped with tuna tartare.