I love the ubiquitous carafe of cucumber water found at spas. Then, why, I think, don’t I ever slice up the veggie to make cucumber infused water for myself? Laziness perhaps. But mostly, making flavored water just doesn’t occur to me. (My 13-year old son, on the other hand, loves to concoct bubbly, fruity drinks, garnish and all.)
Every year we plant tomatoes and cucumbers in our little vegetable garden on the Cape. My 12-year old son revels in the tomatoes, and while we all feel just fine about cucumbers, mostly I plant them because I have success—they grow and the crows don’t steal them. We once re-planted a green bean plant started in a Styrofoam cup in kindergarten. It produced one green bean (yay!), and then the crows swooped in and pulled out the whole plant. Nasty old birds!
Anyway, knowing I’d surely have a surplus of cucumbers, I said sure when a publicist asked if he could send me the new Contigo Autoseal Tritan pitcher with infuser stick and chilling core. I thought, at the least, my son could load fruits into it instead of spilling out of a glass. Plus, I like the shape and the green color goes with everything else I own.
I’ve finally gotten around to testing it out, and it’s actually pretty nifty. The infuser stick slides in and out with ease, and the top clicks on with quite a satisfactory seal. You press a button on the top to allow the water to pour out, it doens’t leak, and the handle has a good, no slip feel. Plus it’s BPA-free and top-rack dishwasher safe. I like it! Maybe next time I’ll try watermelon.
Oops, forgot to peel the cucumber.
Filled the pitcher’s infuser stick and poured a glass of cucumber water over ice.
Serena & Lily invited me to it “Sign, Sip and See” party at its new “Beach Market” boutique in East Hampton. Domino co-hosted and their were lots of top interior designers on hand to sign their design books. Since I’m no longer a Hamptons-ite, having given it up for the Cape, I sent my friend and colleague, freelance writer/editor Meredith Barnett, her mom, news correspondent Rita Braver, and Meredith’s best friend Cristina Miller, head of North American Dealer Relations at 1st Dibs. (I met Meredith & Cristina through Craigslist when I applied to work for their previous business, Store Adore.)
The Serena & Lily Hamptons boutique, on Montauk Highway in Wainscott, is the company’s second retail store. The other is in San Francisco, and they are planning to open more stores soon. Meredith reports: “It was absolutely beautiful—very beachy and whimsical, but also very sophisticated.” Lobster-printed beach towels were stacked amidst hand-painted trays, and colorful artwork on the walls. She (half) jokes, “They should have hosted it with a real estate company because being in that store made you want to buy a house in the Hamptons, just so you could fill it with their stuff!”
I’m jealous that they got to go and sip yummy fresh peach vodka cocktails, and thankful they took time out to snap these photos. Let’s take the tour >
Scandinavian inspired hanging rattan chair works indoors and out on the patio. Handcrafted basketweave wood Bamileke side table from India is modeled after ceremonial stools used by Bamileke tribal chieftains. Peek through the window to see the Riviera bench, made of sustainable rattan and woven plastic.
Throw pillows galore—great for adding a personal touch to a summer rental. The screenprinted cotton canvas leaf pillow covers in coral are my favorite. The coral and blue botanical print pillows up top are Serena & Lily’s palm leaf pillow covers and the neutral geometric print on the bottom right is the diamond pillow cover.
Cutting boards and trays with colored edges make great hostess gifts.
As I continue my search for bathroom tiles (not to mention a light fixture to replace the one that looks like it should be in a starlet’s dressing room), I realize I’ve been seeing so many wood effect tiles, that it deserved its own post.
I first noticed porcelain tiles that look like wood when the condo board of our building in Boston finally decided to redo our lobby. (It had what looked to be tiles you might find in a hospital, complete with tile baseboard.) Our upstairs neighbor brought a few samples as suggestions. We decided to use them, so the lobby now has a New England-y feel, with medium wood effect porcelain tiles, golden walls, and wood baseboards in creamy white. A huge improvement. (Now I need to get rid of the awful, elaborately framed mirror.)
While I likely won’t be using wood grained tiles in our Florida condo bathroom, as it isn’t a good match with the cork flooring in the rest of the place (though would be an improvement over the existing flesh-toned pink tiles), I think there are some great options. I particularly like the pale gray wood effect tiles, and the idea of doing an faux wood tile accent wall in the shower. Have a look at these 15 bathrooms with wood effect tiles.
When the publicist for Joyo jewelry, a company based nearby in Scituate, Massachusetts, contacted me to see f they could send me a sample, I told them I’d prefer to pass it along to one of you. They were game with the idea of a giveaway.
The designer behind Joyo, Jenn Liddiard, who started the company in 2012, creates wood earrings, necklaces, and bracelets in modern geometric and naturalistic shapes, laser-cut from real walnut and birch. Liddiard laser cuts everything herself, and does all of the design, sanding, oil finishing, and assembly by hand.
Liddiard is inspired by architecture, history, and nature. She likes transforming natural materials into unique, intricate, and unexpected forms. She says, “I have a habit of looking for patterns in ordinary places, like storm drains, sidewalk bricks, window grates, and fences–things that normally blend into our everyday surroundings.
E N T E R t o W I N t h e s e E A R R I N G S
Tell me in the comment section of this post about an interaction with nature you had this summer. Did you climb a tree? Grow tomatoes? Make seashell mobiles? Swim with dolphins? Pick flowers? Gaze at the super moon? The simplest gesture will do.
Deadline to enter is Thursday , August 21 at midnight EST. (Don’t forget to include your email address so I can contact you if you win!)
Recently a friend posted a story from the Onion about moms spending “a much-needed vacation performing all her usual household chores while in closer proximity to the ocean.” Always nicer to wipe down counters with a view of the ocean, after all.
The satire seemed a fitting segue to these quirky photographs and paintings of women in kitchens. Many of these images evoke sexy ’50s housewives, Barbie, and Stepford wives, though some are downright spooky.
Here are 12 artworks portraying women in the kitchen.
Not to get too leafy green and healthy on you, but it’s summer and I’m on the Cape enjoying our airy, white kitchen and area farmer’s markets. So, in addition to last week’s summer salads with greens and grains, here are 12 kale salads. Let me know if you make any and how they turned out.
Earlier this summer, Shelley Simpson, designer and founder of tabletop line Mud Australia, visited Boston for the first time. Natalie van Dijk Carpenter, owner of South End boutique Lekker Home, hosted her for an evening. I was out of town, but was able to catch up with her a few days later by phone.
Shelley Simpson and Natalie van Dijk Carpenter at Lekker Home in Boston.
Mud Australia porcelain is handmade in the company’s Sydney factory by in-house ceramicists, from Limoges porcelain, sourced directly from France. Unlike much tableware, to which the color is applied after the fact, Mud Australia tints the porcelain beforehand, which provides a distinctive depth of color. (It also means if a piece chips, the exposed portion isn’t white.) The interior of each piece has a vitrified stone-like surface that becomes smooth with handling, but the interior is hand-brushed with a clear glaze. The look and feel is organic and the colors neutral, punctuated with a few brights.
When did you first start making pottery?
When I was 28, I moved from Melbourne to Sydney, where I rented a house with a woman named Joy, who had a kick wheel in her back shed. She was always harassing me to have a go with it. One weekend when she was away, I got some clay and played around. She was very cross with me because she said my things were prettier than hers!
So you didn’t start out as a ceramicist?
I’m creative, but I’m not trained in art. I draw now, but nothing like my 13-year-old son, who has a natural gift for it. But I have an eye for color and form. My schooling has been throwing things away.
How did you decide to pursue it as a business?
I had applied to manage a theater, but they looked me over, in part because I was a woman. Joy and I started Mud Australia together in 1994, though she left the business after a few years and I’ve continued on.
Mud Australia has 70 shapes and 18 colors. We’ve been focusing on new shapes lately more than colors. The latest is a series of mixing bowls and baking pans. We’re doing pendant lights in three sizes, and have a mortar & pestle in production. That really shows the durability of porcelain, so you can feel confident you’re not buying something fragile.
Are there pieces that are distinctive to certain regions?
The shapes work for anything. You can eat Yorkshire pudding, sushi or Middle Eastern food from the same bowl comfortably. That said, we have a distributor in Korea with three shapes specific to their market, including a kimchi pickle dish. We also make exclusive pieces, like vases, for restaurants.
Gwen Hanson Pygget, an Australian potter who created art pieces rather than functional ones. They’re absolutely beautiful. We’re in New York City now, and just went to the Judd; his color is exquisite.
What influences you when it comes to creating pieces for Mud Australia?
I love to bake, which is how we came to add the new baking pieces. I make Pavlovas and exotic birthday cakes for my kids and other family members. I once made a snake covered in marshmallows. Almost sculptural stuff. I go all out when it comes to baking a cake. For my daughter’s 16th, I made a cake with eight layers in rainbow colors, covered with white icing. The restaurant we brought it to was very impressed. My husband makes the dinners at home. Food is very important to our family.
What’s your home like?
We live in a top-floor apartment in a four-story building in Sydney that’s an Arts & Crafts style, with an old French lift. There’s loads of trees with a vista to the harbor and a large deck; we do lots of eating al fresco. We’ve never lived in a house or on the ground. We want a garden. We are going to put the house on the market soon and find something new.
And of course you have plenty of Mud Australia dishes?
Yes, everything. And pieces that didn’t work out too.
What do you like most about your line?
Everybody’s Mud Australia dinner set is unique to them, which I think sets us apart from other companies that present full collections. When you go to the store, you can get creative, which is fun. You can buy one piece at a time. Your collection can be a complete rainbow, or blackm white, and gray, or all pastels. Recently, one guy did slate and pink, which I wouldn’t have thought of, but when I was packing it up I thought, “This is amazing.”
Earlier this summer I caught up with San Francisco Bay Area-based artis Ellen Levine Dodd, whose work I discovered at Serena & Lily. Last year, after I had featured some of Dodd’s colorful paintings, she emailed me to say she was headed to Provincetown. I wasn’t in town then, but she came back this year, and we met (in real life) at Chequessett Chocolate, a new funky coffee and chocolate cafe in Truro.
We chatted about art and the web, the growing opportunities for artists to sell work online (Serena & Lily’s gallery model has been fabulous for her), and life in general. She showed me images of her newest works on her iPad, and a delicious smoothie later, we parted,promising to catch up again next year. Of course, if I’m ever in the Bay area I’ll be sure to drop by her studio too.
Dodd’s a local Massachusetts gal. She grew up in Newton, went to Clark University on an art scholarship, studied painting at the Worcester Museum School, and photography at the Worcester Craft Center. Following a year abroad, she studied photography and printmaking at Massachusetts College of Art.
Dodd has a rich work history in the arts. She worked as a studio assistant in the paper mill at Sonoma State University, creating paper pulp for many artists including Sam Francis, has curated exhibitions, and consulted on business matters with artists.Currently she works full time as an artist, photographer, and digital fine art printer .
I’m drawn to the bold colors, textures, and shapes in Dodd’s layered pieces, on which she paints, scratches, sands, carves, and draws. Here are abstract and landscape multi media paintings by Ellen Levine Dodd.
Dodd’s iPad with images of her new work.
Postcard and plant at Chequessett Chocolate.
A Loaf Of Bread A Jug Of Wine Acrylic and mixed media on wood panel, in handmade basswood frame 12.75″ x 12.75” • $750
Island In The Sky 2 Acrylic, mixed media on wood panel 12.75″ x 12.75” • $750
Keep Your Chin Up Acrylic, mixed media on wood panel 12.75″ x 12.75” • $750
Music In The Garden Acrylic, mixed media on wood panel, framed by the artist 16.75″ x 16.75” • $995
Pebbles In A Pond Acrylic, mixed media on wood panel, framed by the artist 2.75″ x 12.75″ • $750
Striations I Acrylic, mixed media on wood panel 8.75″ x 8.75” • $495
Wanderings 3 Oil, oil sticks, mixed media on wood panel, framed by the artist 12.75″ x 12.75” • $750
Which Way Is Up Acrylic, mixed media on wood panel 16.75″ x 16.75” • $975
Marina Acrylic, mixed media on board 16.75″ x 16.75” • $975
Headlands 1 Acrylic, mixed media on cradled wood panel 6″ x 6” • $275
Breaking Ground Casein, and mixed media on cradled wood panel 29.5″ x 22.5″ • $1,900
Carmel Beach Sand Casein, acrylic, beach sand, mixed media on cradled wood panel, framed by the artist 11″ x 7″ • $385