Yesterday Boylston Street was reopened! Gone are the twisted metal barricades, the stains removed from the grey sidewalks, the tattered flags from so many nations, and the shards of glass that littered the area like fine beach sand. The two grey, dense explosions that carried skyward the souls of three people and the hurt of so many others on Marathon Monday is now simply a sad memory.
Thirty-three years ago I settled in Boston. I had hoped to live in Manhattan or Paris or just about anywhere in Italy, but it was here that I unpacked and here that I stayed. I have grown to love the spirit of this place! On that sad Monday when police and firefighters charged forth to help the injured and many, many others came to the rescue of those hurting…my love for this city and its history and its people had no bounds.
Italy Dish by Dish
Last Saturday, we were honored to have Susan Simon as our guest…the writer who translated this remarkable source book. I tell you…tuck this little gem inside your suitcase, buy the Alitalia ticket, and take off. If you want to eat your way through Italy, you will need nothing more than an adventurous heart, this little gem of a book, and maybe a euro or two! We have a few signed copies left at the store, so pop in for your copy.
Yep... Welcome Indeed!
We just launched another e-commerce site, which I believe will be easier than the previous one. Please pay us a visit if the store visit isn’t an option. I would love any feedback you might want to offer. I know I adore giving “feedback” and were someone to ask my opinion on just about anything, I would be off and running with advice (sage or otherwise!). So dear friends have at it!
Rowley on Opening Day
Todds Farm was hopping two weeks ago. The fields were wet and muddy; the morning was on the cold side of an early April Sunday. I would like to say I bought nothing, but you would never believe me! I can, with all honesty, say I bought very little. Either I have grown weary of the trek at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning, or there is these days, little out there to buy. I will give it another Sunday try one day soon. It is, after all, one of the most beautiful parts of New England up there on the North Shore. Add to that the fact that I have become deeply addicted to adventure of any kind…even the muddy field and the tube sock vendor!
The Most Perfect Table
The older I become the wiser, I like to think, I become. Isn’t that the way one ought to feel? Well, last Tuesday, when I thought I knew just about everything about life, I found myself in for the most divine day and certainly did not expect what I was soon to experience! Before I wax on about the company of delightful people or the amazingly delicious meal served for lunch on a Tuesday like no other, let me say that our lives are, I am convinced, created by seemingly small events/miracles/gifts…call them what you will.
It seems to me also that the truly big deal stuff never hits me broadside: it is the wonder of an unexpected lunch on the North Shore. Rockport to be more precise…on Cape Ann when the day is warm, the sky a remarkable blue, the ocean waters are still and the deepest of turquoise. I was invited to a Tuesday lunch with an extraordinary collection of creative people. The day would have made Gertrude Stein swoon! One of the hostesses, Sarah Kelly, has a blog and website: therovinghome.com. She sets an amazing table and shared this photo with all of us. Thank you, Sarah and Heather, for reminding me to be awake for the surprises in a shopkeeper’s life. Thank you also for a day I will not forget!
Not Much Left on the Heidi Paul Rack of Gems!
Will winter never end! Our Friday opening for Heidi, and all her lovely cashmere gems held court in spite of the seventeen inches of fresh snow that fell that day and the day before! There was wine (of course) and cheese (naturally) and a hardy group of fans who braved the elements to swoon over this amazing collection. What a delight it is to wrap ourselves in one of Heidi’s works of art. I swear to you, I shall never toss another sweater that some moth dined on during the warm summer months. Off they will go to Heidi for a whole new bit of magic. Miss Rita Rose insisted on her very own off-the-shoulder number in the finest coral shade with just a bit of dusty pink for trim. That girl has no limits! I believe she has plans to wear it with a rather charming pug named Hugo who is a bit of a thug. No doubt Rita will tame the boy! Back to Heidi…we will make this an annual event …mark your calendars for next fall. Date to be announced, you will not want to miss out!
The Discrete Pleasures of a Well-Dressed Dame!
While New Englanders sharpened up their snow shovels, I landed in San Francisco! I always forget what February can look like on the far coast. This tasty little tart greeted me and countless others at the San Francisco airport. Reminded me, once again, of how lame our Logan airport truly is! I was in the City-By-The-Bay to attend the gift show and to rub elbows with old and dear friends. With luck I might get a lay-about on a sandy beach, I might drink some fine California wine, and for sure I will eat tomatoes that are real! I love this part of the country with its yoga girls, their lycra-clad bodies, the tight little yoga mats tucked under their firm little arms. They all have blond hair, these girls…they never shovel snow, but they can do a yoga pose while waiting to cross any intersection. I wonder, when I arrive, why I ever left. And then later, I can’t wait to get back to New England and my red snow shovel, which spent the better part of February grafted to my right hand.
Tail of the Yak
A visit to California must include, for me, a trip to Berkeley to pay homage to this shop. It has held court in the very same spot for over forty years! I am ashamed to admit that I have been a fan for each of those years. (I know, you all thought I was barely thirty!) What Tail of the Yak does for display is remarkable. I was given permission to take photos and nearly swooned while doing so. When I got home, I realized it is like taking a “good” shot of the Grand Canyon…you need to be there to experience the place. One or even a dozen photos do not do it justice! Thank you Alice and staff for holding a high standard that each of us dreams to achieve!
Yep! Its a bit touristy, I know, but the flavors and the worn old signs and the commerce that goes on in this rather large area of San Francisco is truly perfect! Not one yoga mat tucked under a tender slim arm but lots of noodles and some shoving and a bit of dried fish wearing glassy eyes and some Chinese herbs. Perfect!
Chinese Herbs...As Promised!
We dipped into this herb shop where folks waited for their bundles of wellness. I pondered the local CVS and decided I prefer the herbs!
Warm Kale Caesar
I should add…Warm Kale Caesar with candied pecans and pumpkin croutons in a bacon-anchovy dressing! My oh my! The photo, taken by my friend after two glasses of fine wine, does not do this dish justice. I am mad about good food and some would say a tad too critical. Last night I dined at Black Trumpet Bistro in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I went, with my friend John, to write the great American novel! A feat we hoped to accomplish in two days! We maybe wrote ten pages of which I could own, with-out shame, three lines! We stayed at the Ale House Inn, and we dined one night at Moxy on small plates of wonderful food along the line of Spanish tapas. The next night, we were swept away by what the Black Trumpet Bistro had to offer.
Thats it Darlings…no more journeys to San Francisco or New Hampshire! I will join Weight Watchers and find a lovely gentle trainer at the Hyde Park Y who likes my sense of humor and is ever so kind when I groan and complain!
Centerfold at 6 Birch Street
This is it my Loves! This is about as close to a Hallmark moment that you will ever see in my store. I have cobbled together a humble offering to the Cupids in our lives. There are delicious jewels, chocolates, glittery nonsense, books on poetry and breakfast in bed, and lavender-stuffed hearts made of vintage Kantha. That is all this gal, who has lived through more Valentines Days than you can count, could give you for choices. Somewhere, between husbands, I fell out of love with Valentine and all things heart-shaped. I find that, on rare occasions, I refer to the 14th of February as Halloween. How silly of me!
So now…lets talk storm! Lets chat about the bigger-than-life snow storm about to arrive within hours. What does one do before the big white flakey and wet stuff drops? Fill the car up with gas, done! Pray the man who might plow your front walk keeps it together enough to arrive and dig you out, not yet done! Lastly, drive to the local Whole Foods market and circle round the lot seeking a small spot for your car, which is now nicely tanked up. Find spot, walk into store, grab cart, and join the madness. Have we all lost our minds here?! Women wearing their best yoga gear, with a toasty and trendy down bit of a jacket, sunglasses on head, cell phone to ear, loud conversation about picking up the little nippers at school…all the while moving their carts through the aisle as if we are all driving bumper cars. In leaving with my bags of over-priced and organic goods, I thought if I could survive this scene (which I did), bring on the storm. Mother nature, nothing you deliver could compete with the frenzy of the market on the eve of a blizzard!
Cafe Au Lait at Le Grainne
What a truly fine thing the French do when they insist on serving a proper cafe au lait in a bowl large enough to bathe a teacup poodle! The French do many wonderful things, but this is one I can adore without a passport or hopping on Air France. On the final day of walking the miles of Javits aisles, I like to treat myself to a grand lunch before I board a cheap bus for the ride home! Le Grainne is on 9th Avenue near my hotel and has become a favorite.
The Gift Show was terrific! There were the usual dinners out with friends who own shops or are wholesalers. We sit over wine and at the end of a meal, share sources and laugh about the lives we have. We wonder if this is how we all thought we would end up…being shopkeepers. For me…it is the best life I have ever had and can’t imagine doing anything else except maybe singing at the Met or doing water ballet in an old Rose Marie Reid swimming suit. The latter would be a bit tricky given that I don’t swim. Come to think of it the Met might not work out either! Nope, I will keep a shopkeeper’s life…it seems to suit me and Rita Rose just fine.
Dino Captured by David Ellis
Well…here we are well into 2013! December flew by! I slept off much of the time between December 24 & January 9th. Oh! There were well intended plans. You know the kind…learn another language, ride a bike to the Cape and back, get my eyes lifted…or was I thinking boobs lifted, have endless dinner parties with twelve courses and fifteen dear friends, see all the movies I have yet to see and, lastly, read that stack of books I promised myself to slog through during the summer. Can I tell you this…the bike tires are flat as are the boobs , the dinner parties never happened (don’t fret, you were not left out!), and as for the stack of books, it grew even taller with some irrational trips to Brookline Booksmith. I simply can’t be trusted with free time though I did love each and every minute.
I don’t believe I have fessed up to all of you that my little Dino packed up his knapsack with trail munch bars, an extra Patagonia jacket, his flash light, and off he went to live with Gracie and our neighbors Harvey and Nancy. The above photo was Dino at his best…fixed on the purple sofa waiting for Gracie, Harvey and Nancy to scoop him up for one of those four-mile hikes that pugs are not known to adore. Miss Rita Rose has me all to herself, though I did find her on pug rescue looking for a weekend date. The girl is shameless!
My House in Canandaigua...Still For Sale!
A piece of this past week’s time off took me on a road trip to my favorite part of upstate New York for a poke around in the antique stores. Found many delicious treasures. Pop by the store for a peek. Of course, I lusted after my little house I saw last September. Still on the market! Betcha anything the price is reduced! I saw the town with a foot of snow and the town folks hunkered down for winter. I saw it without leaves or green gardens and with ice on the edge of the lake and guess what…I still loved it! Imagine the dinner parties one could throw in that dining room. I would invite all of you…we would take over the town…each of you would move there with me and together we would read that stack of books and drink single malt scotch and we would tuck in for the grey winter and not surface until the days grew longer and the lilacs scented the air. Until then…come see me and Miss (single) Rita Rose at the store.
Thank You Indeed!
Last Saturday when many Christmas shoppers were seeking parking in the giant mall lot…you, my dear friends, were shopping your small local stores. Saturday was our fund-raiser for Boston Health Care for The Homeless Program. I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea you would all give so generously! I was touched beyond imagination and on several occasions had to dash into the powder room to dab these old jaded eyes of mine. Monday we sent off a lovely big check to the Foundation and each of you did your part. I love you all madly and felt so proud to have such loyal and kind clients. We will do this again next year…Lord willing. Assuming, of course, the Myan Calender has it all wrong!
Raven Sees All
Diane Hanna paid us a call on the first Saturday in November. There were notebooks and Picture Poems and the best of all, Diane for the whole of a busy, warm Saturday. Diane’s visit reminded me of something my mother loved to say. ”Nothing lasts forever,” she said, while an unfiltered Camel cigarette glowed in her right hand. I believe now that she said this to a skinny 8 year-old so I would capture the moment of whatever “nothing” or “forever” was. It has taken me nearly a lifetime to appreciate how correct she was!
Diane’s visits will be remembered as pure joy, and though she will hostess her Writers Workshop in February (that is a “forever” thing!), her time with store appearances has come to an end. What fun they have been! We will carry her Picture Poems (another forever thing), and we will continue to host her for the workshop for as long as she desires. Thank you, Diane, for your amazing, creative self, for your spirit, your Maytag shoes, your layers of netting and tulle, and your patience and love for all of us who can’t get enough in one single visit. Thank you also for capturing the store raven, caught in hydrangea and landed for the month of October in our twig madness that now holds Christmas ornaments!
What is Her History?
Several weeks ago, a divine pair of clients brought in this terrific old photo complete with water stains and ancient glass. They gifted it to the store. The photo weighs a ton! Two equally divine worker-boys then installed this haunting creature above the store worktable. She watches over the place and greets those who enter. We feel quite protected, and I suspect she might have had something to do with the presidential election results. For which we are grateful!
Today's Deliver of Thirteen Boxes!
Some days are like Christmas! Some days I wonder what sort of drugs I was smoking/ingesting or what it was I was dreaming when I went off to the Javits for the gift show. Today was one of those days. Clearly the store is jammed with delicious goods for gifting others or possibly yourself. Rita Rose has her eye on a pair or two of Danielle Welmond earrings. I caught her trying on slippers last week and wrapping herself in these new amazing scarves from a mad California vender. Pop by the store before Miss Rita beats you to the goods. That girl has a mighty fine eye and pug pockets of cash to do some serious buying. Better hurry!
September's House in Canandaigua, New York
This little Victorian beauty has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a front and a back parlor, two fireplaces, and a divine kitchen with pantry the size of a Manhattan apartment. It features parquet floors, crown molding, and those delicious high ceilings the Victorians are famous for. September’s house was for sale! The asking price $225,000, which can barely buy you a parking space in Boston’s Back Bay. I wanted it for that summer retreat we all think we want. I wanted it for winter too, but I hear this part of Upstate gets mighty cold. Lust is such a wicked thing!
My friend John’s amazing New York apartment was the feature for last Sunday’s Style magazine in the New York Times. What did I tell you about LUST. John’s place is remarkable. It is tasty and understated and comfortable. It is John at his best!
Thank You Boston Home!
By now, one great huge yawn might be heard from those of you who have already seen this article in Boston Home’s fall issue. I want to tell you what a treat it was working with Rachel Levitt Slade, the editor, Jonathan Kozowyk, the brilliant photographer who made my little humble house look grand, and Alyssa Giacobbe who is such a fine writer and captured the essence of a house well loved. Thank you, Darlings all…for your time and your amazing talents. It was a joy to be included in this magazine!
Temple of Diana at Sonnenberg Gardens
You all have heard me wax on and on and on about Canandaigua, New York. Well, in early September just as those New York State apples were being plucked from the trees, I took a road trip with Dino and Rita Rose to stay with friends in Canandaigua. I must say I do adore this part of the world and owe it to myself to see the place in the dead of winter with barren trees, no farm stands, and a thin sheet of ice covering the roads. Maybe then I could give up a love affair for a place I would give gobs to live in. That is usually all it takes for me to fall out of love…a good thin sheet of ice does it every time!
My Favorite Room in the Sonnenberg Mansion!
I believe this must harken back to my rusty Nevada roots, but I do love a good laundry room. Now, mind you, the mansion had many grand and elegant rooms filled with all sorts of impressive swag, but I would take this laundry room anytime. If you haven’t been to the mansion and its gardens, you must go. Photos are allowed both inside and out…tell me, when was the last time you were in a museum and they allowed photos? The place is divine though it was used only two weeks a year as a summer residence. It was fully staffed (just like my own house!), hence the laundry room where me lady’s whites got a good press! I must have lived in another era for all of this to just feel so familiar.
Buddha Hands in the Japanese Garden
The estate has a number of gardens. My personal favorite was the Japanese Garden with its teahouse and miniature landscape and a Buddha beyond Buddhas…a grand and massive Buddha whose hands held this wilted little collection of posies.
Okay, I did shop for antiques when I wasn’t wandering the grounds of Sonnenberg or moving through the house pretending that this could and just might be my LITTLE two-week summer retreat. I found some treasures (not too surprising) in the antique collective that I love. Come by to see the small grouping of brooches that could be Mad Men material. Some are silver; one has a moonstone; a few are bad/good taste plastic from the 50′s. I found a painting on tin signed and in a lovely old worn frame. Such fun to add these items to 6 Birch Street.
John's Garden Bench
One week after upstate New York, I went with three fellow writers to John’s house in Provincetown, MA. You have heard endless bits about this place so I will try not to go into tedious detail here. I will tell you we wrote for two full days, and we drank wine and a few cocktails, and we made a dinner out of the garden that sits just in front of the above bench. John had swiss chard that one rarely sees in the farmers markets. We sauteed garlic and anchovies and carmalized onions and added the sturdy leaves (minus the stalk and vein) of the chard, which we cut in rather wide slices, then black olives cured in oil (minus their pits)…all of this in lovely olive oil. What a feast! Tomatoes from the garden with basil for a garni. We were beyond happy. A good bottle of Malbec to top it all off…tell me you had a better last Monday meal than I did…I doubt that is possible!
Monday Night's Dinner
Now the photo does not do this meal justice. In fact, it looks a bit like a dog’s lunch, but trust me, we ate every last bite without a single bark!