Tuesday, May 31, 2011

In Your Own Backyard...

Memorial Day weekend...the start of barbeques, beach, and backyard fun.  I spent my weekend doing my last round of planting before the summer begins.  My wonderful husband is building me three raised beds so I can expand my vegetable garden and keep critters like "Fred" out.  Remember Fred?  My pet groundhog?  I compared him to a piece of furniture in an earlier post. http://thefocusondesign.blogspot.com/2010/07/color-series-this-is-fred.html
Well, Fred is back in all his glory, but this time, he won't be eating my lettuce!

 Speaking of your own backyard...last week we had some friends come in from California.  They wanted to take the "Anthony Bourdain Tour of Boston". (No Reservations TV show on the Travel Channel).  Basically, we were eating our way through Boston with some sightseeing in between!

Our friends had already been to Boston so they didn't want to see the usual tourist-y sights.  Hmm...this was going to take a bit of thought.   But they wanted good food, so the North End of Boston was our first stop.  We bypassed the old North Church - been there, done that - and found the Union Oyster House, America's oldest working restaurant established in 1826.  It was too early to eat, so we kept walking and came upon the New England Holocaust Memorial www.nehm.org, 6 glass towers dedicated to the memory of those lost to the horror of the Holicaust.  The peaceful park-like setting is in sharp contrast to the actual events that took place. The memorial is fairly new and something I hadn't seen before.

The New England Holocaust Memorial
Our walking tour continued to the Faneuil Hall-Quincy Market area.  You just never know what you are going to see!  And we don't ask "why", because this is Boston!

Love the hat!

Amen to that, Dee Dee!!
Not even going to ask!

Where else but in Boston!

As I said, this was an eating tour of Boston, so enough with the sights!  Show me the food!!  Back to the heart of the North End and a delicious lunch at La Famiglia on Salem Street.

Day Two and our friends wanted to go to Quincy.  Not sure what there is to do in Quincy, but that's what Google is for!  And also the Visitor's Center.

There was a tour of the church where President John Adams and President John Quincy Adams are buried.  There was also a two hour tour of the president's homes.  Now these are tours that I would have loved to see, but no takers today.  Maybe the 47 degree temperature and the drizzly grey day had something to do with this, so we opted instead for a walk through an old cemetary where relatives of our historic figures are buried.  http://www.interment.net/data/us/ma/norfolk/hancock/index.htm

Hancock Cemetery, Quincy MA
Quincy, MA

Quincy Center is quite charming! A little reminiscent of a European city.

One other site in Quincy that hits close to home is the USS Salem Cruiser Ship.  My father served on this ship during the Korean War and our family has been to see it several times.  Since my parents were with us, and we were in Quincy, the next stop was obvious! 

USS Salem

The ship is now a museum, but unfortunately wasn't open the day we went.  For more info, you can go to http://www.uss-salem.org/museum/visitor_information.htm

Time to head back to Boston for more eats!  Anthony Bourdain had recommended a little hole in the wall eatery that was famous for its lobster rolls.  Seafood is not my thing, but our California friends were not to be deterred!  Next stop - The Belle Isle Restaurant in East Boston.  http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60745-d524782-Reviews-Belle_Isle-Boston_Massachusetts.html  When we pulled up, we weren't even sure it was open - not just closed - abandoned!  It didn't look appetizing, but what the hell!  Inside was a tiny take-out restaurant with 8 stools lined up to a counter.  As I said, seafood is not my thing, but french fries...now you're talking!  Lunch was ordered, stools were fought for, and everyone enjoyed!  Anthony Bourdain knows what he's talking about!

Even though I had been to some of these places before, there was still plenty I had not seen.  Leave it to a couple from California to entertain me in my own state!  For those of you who are always complaining that "there's nothing to do" - get out of your own backyard and see what's happening in your neighborhood!

"Boston's freeway system is insane. It was clearly designed by a person who had spent his childhood crashing toy trains."  Bill Bryson

Sunday, May 15, 2011

North Shore Design Show - "Favorite Spaces"

What to do on a rainy Sunday when all my outdoor gardening has been postponed?  I headed out to the North Shore Design Show at the Wenham Museum in Wenham, MA.  Fourteen interior designers were given an 8' x 8' space and asked to create a favorite space using life in the North Shore, past or present, as their inspiration.  I participated in this show two years ago when we were asked to do a "tablescape".  Our "Black and White Garden Party" is pictured at the top of my blog.  In it's third year, this design show has taken things to a new level with whole rooms being recreated.  Living rooms, dens, sitting rooms and baths...all so inviting you just wanted to sit right down and get comfortable!

Here is a sneak preview...

"Spa" - Photography by R. Palazola

Finn-Martens Design of Beverly Farms, Ma created a luxurious spa - perfect for pampering yourself after a hard day...or, just because you want to!

Photography by R. Palazola

Wilson Kelsey Design, Inc got their inspiration from "the ceremony of sharing food".   Sleek and contemporary, this fashionable dining area should be overlooking a view of the city with its nighttime lights twinkling below.

"Pretty in Poppy" - Photography by R. Palazola

Camille Garro Interiors vignette mixes bold orange with calming gray.  The wall color is eye-catching!

Photography by R. Palazola

The Gallery Della-Piana showcases its fine art and accessories.  Do you see what "eye" see??

"Farmhouse Chic" - photography by R. Palazola

Yvonne Blacker Interiors "Farmhouse Chic" brings to mind afternoon tea with your best girlfriends.  Pull up a chair and start the chatter!

"Classic Style" - Photography by R. Palazola

Honey Collins Interior Design mixes the old with the new in this elegant space.  Tones of silver and gray are accenting with just a touch of color.

"The Reading Nook" - Photography by R. Palazola
The room above by Sebastian Carpenter - well, I'll let it tell its own story!  Fun, whimsical and comfortable!

The show runs through May 22nd.  While there, check out the "Pretty in Pink" clothing exhibit - a cotton candy array of clothing from then and now.  And afterward, step across the street to the Wenham Tea House for tea and goodies.  For more details, go to the Wenham Museum website - http://www.wenhammuseum.org.  Enjoy!

The difference between school and life? In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson.” - Tom Bodett

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I Want To Be Her...

Kate Middleton.  Not because she found and married her Prince Charming...(I have my own, thank you!)  Not because she has the most fabulous clothes and a figure to go with it...(Can't wait to see her when she gets to be my age!)  And not because her closet must be brimming with the chic-est shoes and pocketbooks...(ok, I lied.  That's one of the reasons!)  It's because she can now walk out into her beautiful English garden with a cup of tea, gaze at all her beautiful flowers and shrubs and never have gotten her hands dirty!  (Sigh....)

Reuters Photo

You can guess where this is going!  I spent the weekend getting my landscaping ready for summer.  First I surveyed the land.  I want to know two things....why does everything but grass grow on my lawn??  I have moss, clover, and enough dandelions to make my dead grandmother come back to life with a fork and a knife.  And two...why does grass grow in my flower beds?  If I could only get it to move over a few feet, I would have a lawn like a golf course!  Oh well, seed and feed and hope for the best!

Dandelion - Photography by R. Palazola

Now for the flowers.  Again, too bad dandelions are weeds.  I could have the prettiest yellow garden...  And rocks???  My rock garden consists of....rocks....

Living in the northeast,  I have learned that you don't plant anything before Memorial Day.  I found out the hard way.  Planted a bunch of impatiens before the official beginning of summer.  One cold night wiped out all my work.  Now I plant the plants that are growing naturally at this time of year - lots of phlox, daylillies, and some newcomers - carpet bugleweed and lamium.

Phlox - Photography by R. Palazola

Pink Pewter Lamium - Photography by R. Palazola

Daylilly Leaves - Photography by R. Palazola

Memorial Day weekend is when I get into my "heavy duty, serious gardening before the bees come out" mode.  After that, I leave the flowers to flower and concentrate on my vegetables. Tomatoes, basil, oregano - a sauce and pizza garden!  My Prince Charming is building me some raised beds for my vegetables, so I hope to start branching out with my veggies.

When my grandfather came over  from Italy, he brought some string bean seeds with him.  Not just any string bean seeds - these were special Barese skinny, dark string beans.  (Wonderful with boiled potatoes, garlic and oil.)  Instead of Jack, our family had Giuseppe and the Beanstalk!  He grew them for years and when he came to live with us in the 70's, the beans came with him.  My father kept them going long after he died.  When my parents moved to Florida, I kept the beans going.  Until one fateful year when some bugs got into the seeds and turned them all to dust.  One hundred years of beans and it ended with me!  I killed the family legacy!  Two years ago, my brother found some seeds that he had squirreled away.  During a family visit, we all did a ceremonious bean planting.  If just one plant grew and produced seeds, the legacy would be saved!  Well, it was a cold, rainy summer, but one plant did sprout!  Unfortunately, we had frost before the beans could turn to seed.  I tried again last year, but nothing sprouted.  I have a few seeds left and will try again.  Maybe Giuseppe will look down on us and give us perfect bean growing weather! (And restore my standing in the family!)

The garlic I planted in the fall is already coming up but I noticed a "critter hole" near the plants.  If you meet a chipmunk with garlic breath, send him to me!!

I'm exhausted and my body is screaming.  This was so much easier when I was Kate's age!  Time to brew a cup of tea and sit and admire the work done so far.  In a perfect world, I could say "The butler did it.....!"  Enjoy Kate!

"Gardens are a form of autobiography." - Sydney Eddison