Recreational Herb

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If you’re anything like my husband and me, you are already booking up your weekend with projects and perhaps even picking up some materials on your way home from work. Here’s a quick and easy DIY for your kitchen that will give you lots of satisfaction and good bang for buck.

We wanted fresh herbs on hand for all our cooking but don’t like the look of an over-crowded window sill nor did we want to install one of those greenhouse windows because—while luscious from the inside—they look completely tragic from the outside. So I came up with this simple solution—glass bathroom shelves with rectangular planters—and my husband sourced the below materials for a chic, minimalist, and bountiful kitchen herb garden.

Would be a wonderful way to bring greenery (and a little privacy) to a bath or bedroom window as well…they don’t need to be herbs!

Have a wonderful weekend and happy projecting!

Photography by Laura Moss
Glass shelves are 23 5/8″ wide HJÄLMAREN from IKEA and were $18/ea.
The 10x4x5″ ceramic containers we used were similar to this one, $7/ea.

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Backyard Decor Solution

Spring Cleaning can be both cathartic and frustrating. As you spend these next few weekends planning for your outdoor life, don’t get worked up about how you’re going to make your backyard look just right.  If you’ve considered refreshing your exterior decor, you’ve likely realized you’ll spend well into the thousands to do so. But don’t panic, I’ve got a solution for you. In an effort to find the right pieces for my own patio, I have searched high and low to find the right products for reasonable prices. Here’s my selection of eclectic & bohemian, yet classic backyard decor. Clickable links to each product below. Happy Spring!

Meredith McBride Kipp Backyard Decor Savvy Selects

1. Scalamandre Melamine Salad Plates
Set of four $24.50, FRONTGATE

2. Pagoda Umbrella in Maui
$199.95, Pier 1 imports

3. citronella grey candle
$19.95, CB2

4. Capella Island Deluxe Armchair
$379.95, Pier 1 imports

5. OUTDOOR IDRISS PRINT LUMBAR PILLOW
$59.50, Pottery Barn

6. chunky white block planter
$39.95, CB2

7. Classic Beach Fold Chair
$229.00, Navy/Sand, Ballard Designs

8. OUTDOOR LARACHE PRINT PILLOW
$49.50, Pottery Barn

9. Ceylon Whitewash Chaise
$549, Ballard Designs

10. Quinn Garden Stool
$119.95, Pier 1 imports

11. Farmhouse Hammock Cushion
$399, Canopy Stripe Taupe/Sand Sunbrella, Ballard Designs

12. dockside II dining table
$449.00, CB2

You had me at Butler’s Pantry…

Photography by Laura Moss
Styling by Meredith McBride Kipp 

When touring old homes (and new), a butler’s pantry is always the highlight for me. It was one of the selling features when my husband and I bought our 1805 farmhouse. Despite the charm of the home, the butler’s pantry lacked the proper character and polish. We believe it was added in the 1950’s, and was in need of a major facelift. First off, the upper cabinets needed to be moved up nearly a foot in order to actually accommodate the height of a bottle.

My husband tackled this project with full steam last year while I worked on our soon-to-arrive baby’s nursery upstairs (I will post that decor story soon). Our thought was that ‘if we’re going to have a child, we’re probably going to need a proper place to mix a cocktail.’ (SEE OLD FASHIONED RECIPE BELOW) So we bumped the project to the top of the list. With that he tackled the powder room and the back stairwell. SEE BEFORES AND AFTERS BELOW

Steps for transforming the BUTLER’S PANTRY:
Removed the overhead soffit and upper cabinets
Rebuilt the upper cabinets using only the existing doors (which we think are original from the home’s first kitchen)
Trimmed out the lower cabinet doors
Painted the whole room a delicious prohibition-era-inspired dark teal
Replaced the painted wood counter with black granite
Tiled the backsplash with 6″x12″ (subway style) hand-cut mirror tiles
Installed art spotlights, under-cabinet lighting, interior-cabinet lighting, and electrical outlets
Hung a beautiful oversized, overhead, brass light fixture
Hung lion-head door knockers for a bit of (Bowie’s) Labyrinth whimsy
Installed sleek brass hardware

Steps for transforming the POWDER ROOM:
Removed toilet, sink and tile floor
Removed wallpaper and light fixture
Installed paneling on walls and repaired, primed and painted walls and trim
wallpapered above paneling
installed Julisk light
installed new miniature sink with custom-designed marble backsplash and counter
Steps for transforming the BACK STAIRWELL:
Stripped the carpet & wallpaper
Caulked and repaired walls, trim and floors
Primed and painted walls, ceiling and stairs
Cut and stapled floor runners to create continuous look
Framed and hung important historical family photos

BEFORES & AFTERS:

BUTLER’S PANTRY CLICKABLE RESOURCES:
Brass light fixture
Custom teal paint color: click to see image of scannable barcode for home depot BEHR color
Lion head door knockers are antique, but here are some similar ones 

POWDER ROOM CLICKABLE RESOURCES:
Juliska light fixture
Miniature porcelain sink
Marble sink surround and backsplash custom designed by Meredith, cut by Atlas Stone
Marble sink surround and backsplash installed with love by Sebastian Martorana
Rose vase by his talented wife, Amanda Martorana

BACK STAIRS RESOURCES:
Chevron stair runners

 

 

Deck the Halls…

…with tasteful, interesting decorations.

In honor of a curated Christmas season I have made a small run of boho-chic Christmas stockings… to be hung by your fire with care.

They are made of printed vintage cotton (block print and batik) and backed with a gorgeous, dark blue chambray. I dare you to ditch your ratty, old polyester numbers and take it up a notch this season. Don’t be afraid to mix and match.

Here is my store on Etsy (priced $28-$36): www.etsy.com/shop/aMereLife

The Bee’s Knees


As we quickly approach the holidays, you probably need to relax…and want a good, strong cocktail to do so. I’ve just the solution for you. A delightful little drink called The Bee’s Knees: a heavenly blend of fragrant lavender and honey that will calm the nerves and soothe the soul. The recipe is from my mother-in-law, a Vermonter who—as a recent retiree—has mastered the arts of relaxation and laborious cocktails. This one in particular she picked up from the barkeep at a great little restaurant called Starry Night near Charlotte, VT.

Here’s how you make The Bee’s Knees. In a sauce pan steep roughly 1 cup lavender, 4 cups water, and 1/2 cup honey. Adjust/add honey to taste as needed (depending on strength of honey and lavender.) Steep the mixture over low heat (do not boil) until the lavender begins to lose color. You will see it start to turn brown. Stir all the while (about 15 minutes). Drain the mixture through cheese cloth and put the deep mauve liquid in the refrigerator to cool. This will make a little over 1 quart of your lavender/honey mix.



Once the mix has cooled, pour 3 parts lavender mix and 1 part gin into a shaker. We used Bar Hill Gin, a delicious Vermont-born-and-raised gin with notes of raw honey & juniper berry. Add the juice of 1 small lime, roughly a tablespoon of simple syrup (if needed to cut the bitterness: trust your taste buds), a handful of ice, and you’re ready to shake and serve. It will come out the most beautiful shade of pink.

This soothing cocktail is sure to give you the buzz you are looking for. Happy chilling.

Hamptons Designer Showhouse 2014

Saturday was Traditional Home’s annual Gala Preview Cocktail Party for the Hamptons Designer Showhouse, benefiting Southampton Hospital. As always, it was a vibrant and summery event with beautiful interiors and an attractive & interesting crowd. I was thrilled to meet Jamie Drake for the first time and gabbed with my favorite charmer Mario Buatta. Below are a mix of some of my favorite rooms and details.. and some I thought you might enjoy!

The Hamptons Designer Showhouse is open daily Monday to Sunday, July 20 through Monday, September 1. Hours: 11AM to 5PM. Admission is $35 and includes a Journal. For more info and directions click here.

A detail from the dining room by Mecox Design Services. One of two Slim Aarons photographs above consoles flank the door from the foyer.

A detail from the dining room by Mecox Design Services

Kitchen cabinets by Ciuffo Cabinetry

Living room by Lillian August

Details from the living room by Lillian August

A view in the study by Greg McKenzie Design. Note the embroidered wallpaper detail.

Delicious details from the study by Greg McKenzie Design

Detail from the study by Greg McKenzie Design

A playful powder room by Melanie Roy Design

A view in Henry Co Design’s colorful and fun upstairs lounge

Henry Co Design’s colorful and fun upstairs lounge

A detail from Henry Co Design’s colorful and fun upstairs lounge

Katie Leede and Company’s eclectic guest bedroom

A detail from Katie Leede and Company’s eclectic guest bedroom

A detail from Katie Leede and Company’s eclectic guest bath. I LOVE this artwork signed “LBall2012″

Details from Gil Walsh’s upstairs office

A detail from Gil Walsh’s upstairs office

Mabley Handler Interior Design’s striking bedroom

Details from Kate Singer Home’s guest bedroom

A view into the canopied bed in Phoebe Howard’s bedroom

Details of the canopied bed in Phoebe Howard’s bedroom

A details from Phoebe Howard’s bedroom. I really like this piece.

Punchy master bedroom by Tobi Fairley and Associates

More views in the master bedroom by Tobi Fairley and Associates (Tobi on left)

A detail from the master bedroom by Tobi Fairley and Associates

Four watercolors by Mark Humphrey adorn the upstairs hall

A view from the master bedroom balcony onto the back yard where the party was about to pick up (I shot this before most of the crowd showed up)

Wonderful little guesthouse with pergolas on either side (this is the back). Exterior spaces by designer Caleb Anderson Design

Links to the designers shown above:

Mecox Design Services
Ciuffo Cabinetry
Lillian August
Greg McKenzie
Melanie Roy
Henry and Co Design
Katie Leede
Gil Walsh
Mabley Handler Interior Design
Kate Singer
Phoebe Howard
Tobi Fairley
Caleb Anderson

Paddling Out to Rockaway

I went out to Rockaway Beach last weekend—an area that was devastated by hurricane Sandy of 2012—to hang with surf blogger (NYCurchin.com), sustainable fashion marketer (at Rogan and Loomstate), philanthropist, and sister, Annie McBride.

Annie has been surfing for several years and was accustomed to taking mass transit—surfboard in tow—to the Queens coastline from Williamsburg when Sandy hit town. Due to her appreciation for the beaches and her general philanthropic nature, Annie spent months helping with the recovery effort in Rockaway and quickly fell in love with the culture there. Now a Rockaway resident, this NYC Urchin is in her element.

After a morning of surf and sun, Annie hosted an intimate barbecue with friends and neighbors. I was not nearly bohemian enough for the crowd, but anyone can connect over good summer food. Below are the recipes she embellished for the best Veggie Burgers I have ever had (I am a proud carnivore) and a totally delicious Quinoa Salad.

Pass the poi, mahalo!

Quinoa Summer Salad
(modified from allrecipes.com)

Ingredients
4 cups water
1 cup white quinoa
1 cup red quinoa
1 1/2 large red onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
12 grinds black pepper from a grinder
1/4 cup olive oil
2 limes, juiced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Directions
Bring water to a boil in a pot; add white quinoa and red quinoa. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until water is absorbed, 15 minutes. Set quinoa aside to cool while you complete the remaining steps.
Combine red onions, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, sea salt, and black pepper together in a bowl. Stir in white and red quinoa.
Whisk olive oil and lime juice together in a separate bowl; pour over quinoa mixture. Stir to coat. Add cilantro and stir to incorporate. Cover salad and refrigerate for flavors to blend, at least 4 hours.

 

Lentil Quinoa Burgers
(modified from Women’s Health Magazine)

Ingredients

1/2 cup quinoa
1 can (19 oz) lentils, rinsed
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 gloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp cumin powder
1/3 cup cilantro
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup walnut pieces
2 tsp vegetable oil
6 buns

Directions

In a saucepan, combine quinoa and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and simmer about 10 minutes. Let quinoa cool.
In a bowl, combine half the lentils, bread crumbs, egg, garlic, cumin, cilantro, lemon juice, cooked quinoa, and salt and pepper to taste. Place in a food processor or blender; process until well combined. Add remaining lentils and walnuts; pulse until they’re incorporated. Form into 6 patties.
Preheat grill to medium. Brush burgers with oil and cook for 4 minutes per side. Toast buns for 2 minutes.

 

SHOULD YOU VENTURE TO ROCKAWAY THIS SUMMER,
HERE ARE A FEW PLACES NOT TO MISS:

Transportation: The NYC Beach Bus provides beer and a ride to Rockaway

Breakwater Surf Co: for board rentals

Rockaway Taco: a classic neighborhood spot for—you guessed it—tacos. Place is popular morning, noon and night.

Whit’s End: for the best pizza you’ll ever have

Playland: Super bohemian-chic motel with bar and outdoor games

Caracas: beach bar with arepas and drinks (arepas are south american corn pancakes)

Veggie Island (may have new name now): for your morning coffee and fresh pressed juices

THIS WEEKEND there is s surf, skate and music festival: Rock Stock and Barrels

And don’t forget to check out the new Moma PS1 Rockaway! show featuring solo projects by Patti Smith, Adrián Villar Rojas, and Janet Cardiff. IT OPENS TODAY, June 29- Sept 1, 2014.

Cape Cod Mod

In the quiet town of Orleans, on the Cape of Massachusetts, lives a couple with their two English Setters, Dotty & Betsey (those are the dogs). Chris Ramel is retired but an avid sportsman and his wife, Mary MacLellan (marycmaclellan@gmail.com), is a practicing architect. They moved here a few years ago from Denver and though Mary has spent a good amount of her life visiting the Cape and her brothers all live there, they fall into the loving category of “wash-ashores” which, according to locals, includes anyone residing on the Cape that is not a native since birth.

Despite the name they have successfully renovated and restored a very classic Cape Cod style home…and added a tasteful addition (Mary’s design) to accommodate an extensive art collection, a spacious and modern kitchen with sitting area, a living room with lofted studio (Mary’s office), a master suite, a 2-car garage, and—last but not least—an outdoor shower that is to die for. Their blending of classic antiques with very modern accents—throughout the home—is a pleasant surprise. But, much like the warm hosts, the kitchen in particular really grabs you and draws you in.

The vast and sleek Bulthaup kitchen that Mary envisioned for the space is now a reality

The kitchen shares a spacious room with this sitting area so that the couple can entertain while they cook. Dining and side chairs by Cassina. The large abstract is by painter Edward Holland: www.edwardholland.com

One of the Ramels’ English Setters. This one is Betsey. Very shy with guests but incredibly loving and apparently an impressive hunting partner.
Chairs by Cassina

 

The large dining table is equipped to accommodate quite a crowd.

Mary has a beautiful collection of matte Wedgewood Black Basalt china.
The clay body, black basalt, was developed and introduced by Josiah Wedgwood in the late 1700’s was going to be the new big thing; “Black is Sterling and will last forever”

strong yet playful piece (subject: popcorn) by Barbara Breedon entitled “Wheelers of Course” which is a farm in Hudson, Ohio that Mary frequented as a child and remembers the popcorn fondly.

Tucked behind every sleek panel in the kitchen is a hidden alcove for very well-thought-out storage.

The sink has a great setup. With two large bays, a swiveling wall-mounted Bulthaup faucet and a cutting board that sits in the grooves of the sink edge, you can prep and clean just about anything with efficiency. Each panel behind the sink opens to reveal storage for cleaning supplies, spice racks, knife storage, a murphy-bed-style fold-out cutting board, and more.

 

After years of custom range tops—in homes Mary has designed—she found a 4-burner side-by-side range top. This one is by Foster for Bulthaup kitchens. This allows Chris & Mary to cook up gourmet meals without leaning over other simmering pots. According to them it really opens up the work space. AND you don’t have that small stretch of counter in the back that is impossible to clean. I love this solution!

Note the uniquely designed range hood. The strip along the bottom is a light and the seven long skinny panels above it swivel open individually when the vent is turned on.

Also by Bulthaup are the ingenious in-wall accessories, including this great little cookbook rest to the right of the range.

Appliances by Miele. Refrigerator (above) and Freezer (below) are cleanly hidden in the two right cabinets. There is ample space for the couple’s daily needs but they have a refrigerator in the basement for when they entertain large crowds or bring game birds home from a hunting trip.

a view from the sitting area into the wet bar

Three french-made Guinea hen sculptures adorn the buffet

The paintings that flank the doorway into the original part of the home are by Colorado artist Warren

The wet bar (a miniature full kitchen) equipped with sink, 2 small refrigerators and more storage—house the coffee-maker, microwave and toaster oven. The painting to the right of the window is by prominent Colorado artist, Molly Davis.

The wet bar (a miniature full kitchen) equipped with sink, 2 small refrigerators and more storage—house the coffee-maker, microwave and toaster oven.

Sink and counters by stone fabricator out of Bellows Falls, VT

the slick and hidden double-decker refrigerator in the wet bar

 

The front of the home. Still in progress as they landscape and build a stone wall to encapsulate what will be a robust herb and flower garden.

The entryway with sliding barn door

 

 

English Toffee Recipe

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I have been making the following recipe for English Toffee a lot recently. I found it on allrecipes.com and have tweaked it a bit and added some helpful tips for your preparation ease…and your taste buds.

It’s incredibly simple and makes for a divine host gift for a summer weekend away…hence my custom packaging (seen below.)

If your friends and family don’t like this toffee, OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!

Ingredients
2 cups butter
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)

Directions
In a large, heavy-bottomed, non-stick saucepan, combine the butter, sugar and salt. Cook over low to medium heat, mixing CONSTANTLY with a small whisk. Allow to come to a simmer, and cook until the mixture becomes a warm amber color. Supposedly the temperature should reach 285 degrees F (137 degrees C) but I just drip a bit into ice water: if it becomes rock hard and brittle it’s ready to go.

As soon as the toffee reaches that proper temperature, pour it out onto 2 wax-paper-lined baking sheets and spread thin and even with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the chocolate over the top, and let it sit for a minute or two to soften. Once melted/softened, spread the chocolate into a thin even layer. Sprinkle the nuts over the chocolate, and compress slightly.

Place the toffee in the refrigerator to chill until set. Once set, break into pieces. You can place the toffee in the freezer for a little while before you break into pieces and it will make the toffee even more brittle. Then store the toffee in an airtight container.

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(Murdock is one of my nick names…this one coined by the friends we are staying with on The Cape this weekend)
Blue and white china (above) is Blue Fluted Full Lace by Royal Copenhagen.
Pink and gold oyster plate (below) is an antique but I found a few similarly shaped on eBay.
Here’s what the toffee with nuts looks like:

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RECIPE TO REFRESH

REPOSTED FROM the style blog of the chic, NYC-BASED, SURF-FRIENDLY FASHION BRAND, LOOMSTATE, WHERE I WAS A GUEST BLOGGER LAST WEEK.

You’re probably feeling a little guilty from overindulging throughout the holiday season…nibbling the cheese cubes at the holiday party, exploring the innerds of every chocolate in the box (invest some time and you might actually find the caramel one) and bathing your liver in a stream of hot toddies. Luckily, it’s 2014 and a chance to refresh your mind and body!  Meredith McBride Kipp, Creative Director at New York Spaces magazine and editor of her own design & style blog aMereLife.com offers us a simple recipe for a refreshing green juice AND bread made from the leftover pulp…

Meredith: I’m no heady health fanatic, but I’ve really gotten into making fresh juice once or twice a week. I usually drink it as a meal supplement through breakfast and lunch a few days per week. It makes me feel great and keeps me firing on all cylinders. I don’t need my usual caffeine fixes when I’m “juicing” either, so it saves me from having to buy expensive breakfasts, lunches and coffees in manhattan during the busy work week. I stock the green juice in dishwasher-safe rubber-seal glass bottles that I found on the cheap so that they are always ready-to-go and shake-friendly. Standard pitchers will require that you stir before you pour (the juice settles: don’t be turned off), so sealed/lidded containers are best. Here’s my loose recipe for a large batch of Green Juice. Enjoy!
GREEN JUICE | makes a few gallons (good for 2 people for 3-5 days)
       3 heads romaine
       2 bunches parsley
       3 large cucumbers
       4-5 green apples
       3 bunches of kale
       1.5 bunches celery
       ginger (the size of a golf ball): juice this last because it will clog up
       your juicer
       juice from 5 large lemons
If you are in need of a full 3-day cleanse (similar to the well-known and extremely expensive Blueprint Cleanse), make a batch of my green juice, along with the Spicy Lemonade and Cashew Milk recipes from this site.
GREEN BREAD | makes 1 loaf
       1 1/2 cups juice pulp (aim for the apple, cucumber and kale)
       1/2 cup oil or 1/2 cup butter, melted
       1/2 cup brown sugar
       2 eggs, beaten
       1 teaspoon vanilla
       1 1/2 cups flour (could do whole wheat)
       1/2 teaspoon baking soda
       1/2 teaspoon baking powder
       1/2 teaspoon salt
       1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
       1/2 teaspoon allspice
       1/2 cup nuts, chopped (optional)
       1/2 cup raisins, dates or figs (optional)
Directions:
       1. Beat together oil and honey, then add eggs, vanilla and pulp.
       2. Sift dry ingredients and add to pulp mixture.
       3. Add nuts and fruit last.
       4. Bake in a greased 9″ loaf pan at 350F for 45 to 60 minutes.