Thursday, December 26, 2013

My Myrtle Topiaries in Southern Living

As the new year approaches, I have exciting news to share! Thank you to Southern Living for featuring my myrtle topiaries in their January 2014 issue. YAY!!! What a special way to welcome 2014.

I am especially grateful to Editor Rebecca Bull Reed for her guidance and tireless work styling the shoot, writing the article and producing this project. Thanks so much, Rebecca! Many thanks also to photographer Helen Norman for capturing such exquisite photos. With her brilliant eye and camera magic, Helen can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary!

If you are a Southern Living reader visiting for the first time, let me extend a hearty welcome. And a big hug! Anyone who loves topiaries, or is curious about them, is a friend :) To my longtime readers, thank you for your continued support this past year - you all are the best!

There are fabulous photos as well as growing tips in the article. Please pick up the issue (if you do not have it) to enjoy the photos and my tips on keeping myrtle plants healthy throughout 2014 and beyond. Some of my babies are over 10 years old.

Various photos were taken with different vignettes, angles and layouts for this article. Here are the rest of the photos from the shoot. To see the images that actually made it to print, you'll have to check out the hard copy issue.
 On the dining room French console is a pair of triple standard myrtles from Snug Harbor Farm in Maine. You can read about my visit to Snug Harbor here.
 A cheerful and fresh way to start 2014! Let's set a casual New Year's Day brunch table with bright orange tulips and soothing green myrtles.

This version didn't make it to print, but I am very fond of it. Helen captured the essence beautifully.
 Switching out the tulips with winter blooms from treasured Sasanqua camellias from my southern garden.
  Switching out soft blue with vibrant chartreuse. And also a topiary switch - can you find this change? All the flatware, glassware, dishes and linens are from Crate and Barrel.
 In the conservatory, I demonstrate how to prune a young topiary. Hold it steady at the stem, and use sharp Japanese pruners.
 Perfectly pruned - that's how I like them!
 In addition to myrtles, I train and shape rosemary and ivy plants. You can also read about these in the article.
I love Rebecca's savy styling of the above vignette with the rosemary, ivy and concrete sphere atop the antique Swedish painted chest. Green on green!
Shots of the mudroom with Mocha and Panda, my Tibetan Terriers! The large wreath is English ivy.
Thank you, Southern Living. I am honored and truly grateful!!
To everyone, cheers to the rest of 2013! 
May 2014 be b-r-i-g-h-t!
Loi

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Greetings

Many, many thanks for your kind words about our new home in the previous post! Tom and I read your comments together, and we're very appreciative of them. Thank you for taking the time to wish us well. A tour of the interiors as well as an update very soon - work has already begun!

In the meantime, the DC area had its first snowfall this week. Does it get any more magical and wondrous than the first snowfall? It always inspires us to start the holiday decorations. This season we are keeping our home very simple as we're a bit busy.

How about you? Have you started decorating? And have you found that perfect tree? Our woodland tree came from a friend's property outside of Belfast, Maine. Don't laugh when you see the little *Charlie Brown* tree :)

From our home to yours, much warmth and good cheers for a wonderful holiday season! 
Loi 
The first snowfall in December - a lovely way to start the holiday season!
A plump robin enjoying a bit of sunshine between snowfalls. After the snow, a wintery ice storm coated the gardens in glistening ice. 
It's freezing so let us go inside! In the dining room, pomegranates and red nandina berries in an antique ironstone tureen add a splash of seasonal color. The marble top console will soon get fresh green ferns.
Gilded zinc stars from Restoration Hardware are a patriotic way to jazz up the antique eagle sconces in the living room.
   Back on display for Christmas is the antique mercury glass collection. Also the popular and frequently pinned (on Pinterest) bleached pine cones which I shared last year. Read about the mercury glass and pine cones here.
 Also in the living room, giant ornaments from Pottery Barn bring festive flair to the pair of French urns.
 And now our woodland tree from Maine! Yes, it is fully decorated, and no, I didn't prune it :) Because the tree was growing in dappled shade, it is naturally sparse. I wanted an airy tree with minimal decorations inspired by nature.....a simple tree that breathes.
I was inspired by Steve's gorgeous woodland tree last year - check it out here!! The little birds came from Merriefield Garden Center, the quail eggs from eBay, and the nests from Michaels. To make the nests pop, I added bright green moss.
In lieu of light strings, votive candles illuminate the tree. Pine cones and burlap continue the natural theme.
Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays! 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Our New Home

Hello ~ Happy December! I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving.

This Thanksgiving was even more meaningful for us. After searching for a few years, we are grateful to have finally closed on a family vacation home. I have to say the search was exciting but quite challenging and frustrating as many of the properties we loved were out of our budget or had higher offers. Our focus had been on older homes that needed work and a bit of TLC.

So where is our new place? It is located in historic Castine - a small and very special coastal town in Maine. I look forward to writing a proper post on Castine, but for now, enjoy the mini pictorial tour below.  

We are thankful to Karen Koos of Saltmeadow Properties for assisting us in Castine. Her expertise, guidance and patience proved invaluable. If you need a fabulous realtor for either a purchase or rental on the Blue Hill Peninsula, please contact Karen. Many thanks, Karen, for finding us our home!

Our home, built in 1804, has certainly seen its share of ups and downs. During the Victorian Period the house was renovated, and the ceilings were raised on the top floor with a new mansard roof added. Later in the 20th century, it sat uninhabited for nearly 50 years. Then it was extensively but sympathetically renovated, expanded and modernized 15 years ago. But, alas, the house once again is in need of attention.

We intend to gently repair and attend to important issues immediately - postpone other projects until resources become available. Our goal is to spend parts of the year in Maine, and tackle a project each season. 

Despite all the renovations, much of the early architecture, charm and charecter remain true. We love the exterior's quiet beauty and lack of pretense - much like Maine itself. And once inside, there is a sense of warmth, comfort and history, but not perfection.

Here are photos of the exterior:
 We love the simple lines and symmetry. As you can see, the exterior desperately needs painting. We'll be selecting exterior and interior paint colors soon - can't wait to share!
 The Victorian Period French doors, windows and shutters all need repairs - those are some of our favorite features! The flanking lanterns and granite hardscaping were added about 15 years ago. Fortunately the stonework is in good condition. We hope there are perennials in there with the weeds, overgrowth and dead shrubs - a big project this spring!
 A better view of the mansard roof. The kitchen, breezeway and garage-barn additions.
 A lighting rod atop the cupola.
  An early 19th century painting of our home by an American artist. Here the house is yellow and has the original Federal hip roof.

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Now let's take a little stroll around historic Castine - settled around 1613.
 Part of the Down East Region, Castine is a small coastal town situated at the end of a peninsula. It is surrounded by the Penobscot and Bagaduce Rivers.
 Castine is home to the Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) - a highly disciplined and respected state-run maritime college. Above is its impressive ship: The State of Maine.
 The MMA also owns the Bowdoin, a schooner designed and used for Arctic exploration.
 A glimpse of the quaint town center. Below is the Castine Historical Society, which is housed in the charming Ca.1859 Abbott School.
 Now a museum, the John Perkins House (below) has parts dating from 1763.
 Castine is known for its many early historic homes. Here are just a few:
A tour of our home's interiors to come. Our vision is to create a carefree and comfortable home that combines our passion for Swedish painted furniture with Americana Maine, all on a budget. Please join Tom and me on this new journey!
Warmly,
Loi