Fluffernutters in Massachusetts

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This was always a staple in our diet when we came to Cape Cod in the summers from Washington DC so it brings back fond memories. I just always told my kids that there was no Fluff in DC when we returned home!

BOSTON, April 24 (UPI) — Fans of peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff may want to start looking for housing options in Massachusetts.

A bill that would make the fluffernutter the official state sandwich in Massachusetts was approved at a vote earlier this week during a session of the House of Representatives. According to the bill, “the fluffernutter shall be the sandwich or sandwich emblem of the commonwealth.”

Marshmallow Fluff was invented almost a hundred years ago in Somerville, Mass., and the sandwich — a combination of peanut butter and fluff on bread — is a popular snack in New England.

The main ingredient in the fluffernutter, the fluff, is still produced at a manufacturing plant in Lynn.

The House has to vote on the bill again before it can move on to the Senate.

Not everyone hopes it passes.

“Why the state Legislature feels the need to designate a sandwich is itself questionable. There’s plenty of other pressing business,” said a MassLive editorial. “And if it does, why not choose a sandwich that says Bay State with every bite: Why not choose the mayonnaise-less lobster roll?”

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Play Ball!

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Yesterday a good friend(who is from Boston so most photos are Red Sox related!) went to the Baseball Exhibit at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley,CA and reported it was quite amazing. A treasure trove of the most rare baseball memorabilia, all one person’s personal collection. (Anonymous). There are a few different hand quilted wall hangings/bedspreads that are incredible… one of the pictures shown above has hundreds of “autographed baseballs”; the woman sent the cloth to all of the players for their signatures and then she embroidered over them in very fine thread. She hand appliquéd the portraits as well. I can’t begin to imagine how long it took!

One piece of trivia learned: in order to sign 19 year old George Ruth to his first contract, in Baltimore, the team manager had to adopt him. The other players starting referring to him as the manager’s “new babe”….hence the name!

The exhibit  opened on April 4th and will close on September 4th,2014.

Faberge Eggs in Manhattan

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The Fabergé Big Egg Hunt is the world’s biggest egg hunt, with over 260 egg sculptures individually created by leading artists and designers. The sculptures will be placed across the five boroughs of New York City. The Fabergé Big Egg Hunt will officially start on Tuesday, April 1, at 7:00 a.m. and will run until Thursday, April 17, at 11:59 p.m. Following the hunt, all the eggs will be placed in Rockefeller Center until Friday, April 25.

Artists who have designed the eggs include Jeff Koons, Tracey Emin, Marc Quinn, Bruce Weber and Peter Beard, and fashion brands including Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Carolina Herrera, Marchesa, Oscar de la Renta and Diane von Furstenberg.

They were very neat to look at-pictured above were some of my favorites.

Central Park

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What a beautiful day to spend time in Central Park.On Saturday it was packed with kids and parents,tourists and couples just out strolling. Outside of the park I even saw my first Cupcake ATM! The history of the Park is very interesting:

Central Park, the first major landscaped public space in urban America, was created in the 1850s as an antidote to the turbulent social unrest, largely as the result of the country’s first wave of immigration, and a serious public health crisis, caused by harmful environmental conditions. Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the winners of the 1858 design competition for Central Park, along with other socially conscious reformers understood that the creation of a great public park would improve public health and contribute greatly to the formation of a civil society. Immediately, the success of Central Park fostered the urban park movement, one of the great hallmarks of democracy of nineteenth century America.

By the early twentieth century, vicissitudes of the social, political and economic climate threatened the fabric of the Park and caused its first serious decline. Robert Moses, park commissioner from 1934 to 1960, received federal funding for the restoration of many eroded landscapes and crumbling structures, and embarked on massive public programming for the post-Depression populace. When he left office, however, there was no management strategy for maintaining those improvements or educating Park visitors in proper stewardship, and for the next two decades the second — and most devastating— decline took its toll on the fragile 843-acre Park.

Physically the Park was in a chronic state of decay. Meadows had become barren dustbowls; benches, lights, and playground equipment were broken, and the one-hundred-year-old infrastructure was crumbling. Socially, the Park bred a careless, even abusive attitude towards the Park evidenced by unchecked amounts of garbage, graffiti, and vandalism. Positive use had increasingly been displaced by illicit and illegal activity. The perception — and in many cases, the reality— of Central Park was of a lawless and dangerous ruin. Despite a workforce of over three hundred Parks Department employees assigned to Central Park, there was no accountability. New York City had abdicated their responsibility as Park stewards and, as a result, this national treasure became a national disgrace.

To help remedy this troubled situation, George Soros and Richard Gilder, under the aegis of the Central Park Community Fund, underwrote a management study of Central Park in 1974 by E.S. Savas, who was at that time the Columbia University School of Business, Professor of Public Systems Management. The groundbreaking study proposed that two important initiatives be implemented to ameliorate the conditions in Central Park: one, that a Chief Executive Officer be given “clear and unambiguous managerial authority” for all Park operations, and two, a Central Park Board of Guardians be created to oversee strategic planning and policy, thereby instituting private citizen involvement in their public park.

The study’s first proposal resulted in the appointment in 1979 of Elizabeth “Betsy” Barlow (now Rogers), a Yale-educated urban planner and writer, who became the newly created Central Park administrator, charged with overseeing all aspects of the Park’s daily operations, in essence the Chief Executive Officer recommended in the Savas study. For four years before her appointment, Betsy had been overseeing the Central Park Task Force’s program for summer youth interns, eventually becoming the head of that small, private organization, financially separate from the City but existing under the aegis of the Parks Department.

Given her new official status and responsibilities as administrator, Betsy first conceived of and then helped to create a revolutionary public/private partnership with the support of then park commissioner Gordon Davis that would bring private monies and expertise in partnership with the City of New York to manage and restore Central Park. In 1980, the two most prominent private advocacy groups — the Central Park Task Force and the Central Park Community Fund — merged to become the Central Park Conservancy —  the citizen-based Board of Guardians that the Savas study had essentially recommended.

Under a Conservancy-funded master plan, the gradual restoration of those decrepit landscapes evolved, and success bred success. As the Conservancy showed its ability to protect and maintain its investment, many more private individuals, foundations and corporations put their trust and their money into the restoration of the Park. To date, the Conservancy has had three successful capital campaigns towards rebuilding Central Park. The first campaign was launched in 1987; the second, “The Wonder of New York Campaign,” was launched when Richard Gilder made a challenge grant to the Conservancy and the City in 1993. The work was continued in the “Campaign for Central Park,” which ended in 2008, ensuring the completion of the Park’s transformation. Most importantly, for the first time in the Park’s turbulent history, the Conservancy has created an endowment that will ensure a sustainable green and healthy future for Central Park.

In 1998 a historic management agreement between the Conservancy and the City of New York formalized the then 18-year public-private partnership. With that contract Douglas Blonsky, who began his career in 1985 in the Conservancy’s Capital Projects office as a landscape architect supervising construction projects, assumed Betsy’s title of Central Park administrator. In 2004 he assumed the additional role of president of the Conservancy and CEO, responsible for not only the Park’s management but also all fundraising and administrative duties.

Blonsky created innovative management practices to ensure that those healthy new landscapes would have a skilled and dedicated staff to maintain them in a professional manner. His clear vision for a well-managed and well-maintained Park took the Conservancy’s design and restoration vision one step further with the implementation of Zone Management System, which brought accountability, pride of workmanship, and clear and measurable results to the Conservancy and Parks Department staff under his jurisdiction. Under this pioneering system, the Park is divided into 49 geographic zones for managerial purposes, each headed by a zone gardener, who in turn supervises grounds technicians and volunteers.

The Park’s restorations gradually fostered important social changes in public behavior that returned the sanctity of public space to Central Park and ultimately to New York City at large. The American ideal of a great public park and its importance as a place to model and shape public behavior and enhance the quality of life for all its citizens once again defines the measurement of a great municipality. Towards this goal, the Conservancy was first in its demonstration of zero tolerance for both garbage and graffiti. An immediate call to action came when even the slightest sign of vandalism appeared in the Park — a busted lamppost or broken bench, for example— and became the tipping point, that turned public opinion of Central Park from one of dire repulsion to one of deep respect.

Today Central Park has never been more beautiful or better managed in the Park’s 156-year history, and the Conservancy is proud to be the leader of the Park’s longest period of sustained health and beauty. To date the Conservancy has raised $700million towards the restoration, programming and management of Central Park and is responsible for 75 percent of this year’s annual operating budget of $58.3million. Furthermore, just as Central Park was the leader in the birth of urban parks, so today Central Park, through the Conservancy’s innovative care and expertise, is the leader in the rebirth of urban parks, public spaces and the quality of life movement. City officials and park professionals from across America and around the world come to the Central Park Conservancy Institute for Urban Parks to learn of its best practices to restore and manage their local parks.

Beautiful

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I went to NYC this past weekend and while there saw “Beautiful” which tells the story of Carole King from her early days as a Brooklyn teenager (named Carol Klein) struggling to enter the record business to her years spent as a chart-topping music legend.

It also touches on the friendship and competition between Gerry Goffin and Carole King(who were married) with Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil to create the best hits of that time period in the 60’s.

Much to our surprise the REAL Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil were there at the performance we went to! They raffled off the original sheet music to “On Broadway” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’Feeling” (which they wrote) at the end of the performance.

With the music and the choreography which showed the songwriters busy at work( and then suddenly “The Drifters” or “The Shirelles” would appear and sing the song as we all know it), it really brought back a lot of great memories and I highly recommend seeing it. Jessie Mueller is absolutely fabulous as Carole King-you can feel her confidence growing as her singing gets stronger and stronger.And of course, the rest is history once “Tapestry” was produced.

 

The Great American House

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The book “The Great American House” by Gil Schafer III is quickly becoming our “bible” for building a new house. Gil makes houses look and feel like they have always been there and that is exactly what we are  all looking for building this house in Concord.

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Here is an article that was in Architectural Digest in June 2012 about the above house that really rang true for us.

If every house tells a story, then every architect is the author who sets the plot in motion. For a 400-acre working farm in New York’s bucolic Dutchess County, Gil Schafer has written a particularly captivating tale using a vocabulary of rugged fieldstone, painted clapboard, and weathered cedar shingles. Commissioned by a Manhattan couple with three children, all avid equestrians, the residence is an amalgam of styles that embodies a picturesque historical narrative. “My goal was to avoid a new-looking building in a bald field,” says Schafer, who is based in New York City. “Instead I tried to establish an organic sense of place, grown over time, by inventing a certain architectural mythology.”

The structure’s L shape unfolds sequentially, as if cobbled together by generations of prosperous owners. At one end of the building is a section that appears to date from the 18th century, calling to mind a once-freestanding granite farmhouse sprouting three modest dormers. Attached to this is a two-and-a-half-story Federal-style block graced with an expansive Greek Revival veranda—imagined evidence of an 1840s renovation—that takes a portion of the farmhouse into its embrace. Bookending the Federal-style segment is a small stone wing, which links to an elegant windowed passage (actually a glorified mudroom) that is connected, at a right angle, to a drive-through carriage barn clad in white clapboard. Of his inspired meldings Schafer observes, “It’s not quite higgledy-piggledy, but feels as if the carriage barn was added a century or so after the farmhouse was built.”

It is his imagination, grounded by a sensitivity to practical concerns, that has kept the clients, both financiers, in his thrall. “Gil balances aesthetics and functionality beautifully,” says the husband, who has enjoyed four Schafer-designed residences over the past seven years. “Working with him is an effortless continuum.”

After accepting this fifth project from his patrons, the architect considered siting the new dwelling in a variety of locations on the property, including some on hilltops and lowlands. The couple, however, was keen to make an existing pond the focal point, so Schafer opted for a plateau overlooking the water. Today a half-mile drive leads the way from a nondescript country road to the finished house, the pastoral approach rising sharply through a sun-dappled woodland and then opening onto a clearing with black-stained fences stretching in all directions. Winding past cornfields, a paddock, a barn, and that sparkling pond, the road finally reaches its destination: a 12,000-square-foot, six-bedroom manor set behind a gravel courtyard ringed by low stone walls and punctuated at its corners by a quartet of sycamore trees. (Garden designer Deborah Nevins, who frequently works with Schafer, developed the landscape plan.) A parterre with boxwood clipped into cloudlike mounds signals the main entrance; opposite the parterre, on the other side of the courtyard and facing the house, is an apple orchard. Nearby are a fenced cutting garden and a vegetable patch that spreads across a third of an acre. “We now grow 50 varieties of heirloom tomatoes and other organic produce,” the husband says, adding that Schafer is overseeing the development of a four-acre plantation of oak and hazelnut trees on the farm, for the cultivation of Burgundian truffles.

The house’s internal details are a tribute to Schafer’s neotraditionalist credo, each room and corridor contributing to a unifying sense of warmth and elegance, but with evocative twists. Stately enfilades, for instance, provide organized sight lines that belie the rambling façade. Solid-brass hardware, purposely left free of lacquer so the metal will develop a mottled patina, was used on all windows and doors, and even the woodwork was designed to appear venerable. “We sourced several 1820s Federal mantelpieces for the principal rooms,” the architect explains. “These determined the molding program.”

Entrusted with the decoration of the interiors, too, Schafer spiced the comfortable gentleman-farmer schemes with notes of worldly sophistication. In the formal dining room, sepia-tone scenic wallpaper portraying views of Moghul India makes an exotic backdrop for a gleaming Regency table. The quietly refined living room, accented by Gustavian chairs and jewel-hued fabrics, gets an unexpected jolt thanks to a large Walton Ford mixed-media work depicting a cassowary attacking an emu; the piece hangs above a sofa, precisely where an equestrian painting or a bosky landscape would customarily hold court. That outsize work of art might seem off-kilter to some visitors—especially in a space that otherwise exhibits all the attributes of traditional gracious country living—but in Schafer’s opinion, its curious subject lends just the right touch of personality. “I like a vernacular that feels slightly monkeyed with,” the architect asserts. “True authenticity is a lack of perfection.”

 

Getting Stoned??!

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THAT got your attention!

Back to the building of the house in Concord. One of the things that the client really wanted to think about was using stone on the house-especially the front elevation. We had seen a house that we loved done by architect Gil Schafer III in NY State. What became very clear as we googled,researched and discovered was that stone is not prevalent in Massachusetts. You see beautiful stone houses in Pennnsylvania,New York ,New Jersey and even some in Connecticut but definitely NOT in Massachusetts.Ironically, there IS one stone house here in Concord right on Lexington Road (pictured above) .It was built by Cyrus Pierce in 1850 but I am not certain how it came to be made of stone.

On a google search this is what came up in Massachusetts:

Stone’s Public House in Ashland(the fact that  it is called “The Stone House” might make you realize that it is rare!),Stone House Properties(Real Estate),Nason’s Stone House Farm Store in West Boxford(famous for “awesome chicken pies!”) and that is about it. There were a few new houses but they really looked new and that is not what we want. There were definitely no federal style farmhouses, and that is the way we are all leaning.