Old Sturbridge Village is the largest living history museum in the Northeast. Situated on over 200 scenic acres it depicts an authentic rural New England town of the 1830s. Guests are invited learn about and explore the more than 40 original buildings on the property, including homes, meetinghouses, a district school, a country store, a bank, a working farm, three water-powered mills, and trade shops.Visitors will get to see heritage breed animals up close and interact with authentically costumed staff. For more read here.
It's that time of year - antique show and flea market season. As many of you know I was at Brimfield last week - the largest antiques and flea market in the country. These events are fun and some, like Brimfield, are quite exhausting as there is just so much to see and sort through. The trick is not to try to see and do it all at once and to plan. For more read here.
Last week I participated in a Colonial Dinner with Yankee Magazine at Old Sturbridge Village. The food we dined on was spectacular. I decided to try my hand at re-creating a wonderful salad dressing we had that evening. Read here for more.
I'm headed to Brimfield, Massachusetts, this afternoon. Brimfield is home to the largest antiques and flea market in the country. Yankee Magazine has dubbed it "the mother of all antiques markets." To say it is large or even huge is an understatement. It is colossal.
Three times a year, in May, July and September the town of Brimfield is transformed into a massive antiques fair featuring 6,000 dealers that are spread out over 23 fields along a mile-long stretch on both sides of Route 20.
A few tips for Brimfield and other Flea Markets
Research and read about your favorite flea markets online.
There's a plethora of information out there on the web to help you along. (For Brimfield, do visit Yankee Magazine's Tips and Recommendations from Brimfield Experts.)
Pick up or print out a map ahead of time. There is a lot to see. Too much to see!
The markets can be loud and crowded - like mid-town Manhattan at the height of the Christmas season. On hot days (July and even September) it can get unbearably sticky and humid.
Bring lots of cash. Smaller bills too. (Cash is better for haggling.)
Use your phone for taking photographs and notes.
Bring a battery charger for your phone.
How to Dress for Brimfield and other flea markets
Dress for comfort not for style. Leave the designer labels at home. You won't want them ruined by dirt and dust. Also you want to be able to haggle. Expect less haggle while wearing your Gucci logo belt.
Wear comfortable walking shoes. Leave the cute ballet flats at home. Sneakers are the best shoe to wear as you hit the pavement. Your paws will be hurting at the end of the day.
Dress in layers. It may be cool when you enter in the early morning hours yet hot when the mid-day sun beats on your shoulders.
Wear a hat with a large brim.
Bring lots of water.
On rainy days the fields can be a slushy mess. Wellies are a must.
Tips for Toting your Brimfield and flea market finds
Lots of people bring shopping carts or waggons to tote along their kind finds.There are also some that can be rented for $35 a day at Brimfield. This may be a good idea. Otherwise, pack like you're headed to a foreign country wanting to bring back treasures. Have several lightweight totes packed inside each other. Larger and heavier items can be picked up later when you return with your car. Bring water. Lots. (You can buy it there but lines can get long. And you'll save a few dollars if you bring your own.)
Below are some of the fields we love - and while you'll certainly find a little bit of everything in every field, certain fields are noted for specific items. (See above map.)
The Meadows: Midcentury and industrial finds
Quaker Acres: Shabby-chic, cottage, vintage
Hertan’s: Imported linens, country furnishings
Midway: Old-time canoes and boats, camp-style goods
Shelton’s: Exotica, including Buddhas, ropes of beads, etc.
Mahogany Ridge: Retro jewelry, vintage clothing
Lest I write about the largest antiques show and not mention the eats! There are good eats here at the market. Don't let the vending carts fool you. I've never had anything bad and I've been many times and eaten many things. If you're starting to get hungry you should find your way to the food court, lines can be a bear - especially during the lunch hours. As with any concession stand at any tourist attraction the food isn't cheap. But I'm telling you it's good. Did I mention that? The New England Motel field is where the food is at. . You'll be able to sit and relax and there's often live entertainment. Here is some of what you'll find there:
BBQ Pork and Chicken, Ribs, Salads, French fries, Lobster rolls, Shore dinners, sausage, hot dogs, burgers, grinders, corn chowder, lobster chowder, pizza, paninis, falafels and more. While it may seem an odd place to order such, if you happen to have a craving for a lobster roll, at close to $14 they're not cheap, but they are delicious - served warm with butter but not so much that it oozes all over you and leaves you feeling gross and greasy. I've had the paninis as well. They're also highly recommended.
Watch out for the hashtag #BrimfieldFinds and be sure to follow @YankeeMagazine, @TheDailyBasics and myself @GimletStyle as we Tweet and Instagram our way through the markets.
The Entertaining House is thrilled and honored to be joining forces with Yankee Magazine and The Daily Basics at Brimfield next Monday, May 12th, as we visit the legendary Massachusetts antiques show. Join us as we share with you an Insider's Guide to Brimfield. We're embarking on a major social media blitz and we'll be sharing tips, advice and all sorts of useful information via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Look out for the #BrimfieldFinds on your social media channels and be sure to follow me, @GimletStyle, @YankeeMagazine and @TheDailyBasics. You'll be amused, you'll be entertained and you'll be informed!
Below are some of the kind finds I spied at past Brimfield Markets... With over 6,000 vendors who are spread out over 21 fields, 3-5 acres apiece. There is literally everything and anything you could possibly imagine.
There's a misconception that good Mexican food has to be rich, heavy and laden with grease and cheese. In fact, the best Mexican dishes are brimming with fresh vegetables, chicken, fish and seafood. There are even healthy versions of your favorite Mexican inspired cocktails. Read here for more.
I have a love for all things aromatic - fresh flowers, a newly cut lawn, a crackling fireplace, the ocean, the smell of rain on a warm summer day, my home after it's been professionally cleaned... Smells, like songs, evoke pleasant memories. Some smells - like floral and herbs are instantly relaxing, like walking into your home at the end of the day to be greeted by a clean, fresh, or springlike scent. I've a fondness for certain candles such Williams-Sonoma's essential oils candles, Nest's Bamboo, LAFCO's Pool House or Diptyque's Roses. I also love a good room diffuser. But, like candles, all diffusers are not alike - some don't really work, others are overbearing, and the most effective tend to cost an arm and a leg. While candles are lovely, their scent only lasts as long as they're lit. And, as with any flame they must be closely monitored. A good reed diffuser needs no monitoring and will keep your home smelling fragrant and fresh for weeks on end.
I recently came across this piece by Food52 on my Facebook stream and decided to give it a try. I had the vodka and the reeds - I just needed to get some essential oil that I picked up at my local Mrs. Green's. (Any health food store will have essential oil.) There were so many to choose from, but I ended up selecting Lemon Eucalyptus. Upon doing a little research I learned that eucalyptus oil has many respiratory benefits - from asthma to pneumonia as it opens up airways. It is also known for it's ability to increase focus, thus this oil is often used in classrooms. Lemon oil is known to be uplifting and improves concentration. Perhaps you should consider this fragrance in the office or home office. You can use any of your favorite scents or even combine them.
Making your own diffuser couldn't be any easier. You need just a few items - most of which you already have.
1/4 warm water
1/4 vodka (save the Tito's for your Martini!)
20 drops of essential oil
1 glass jar - any will do.
5 bamboo skewers (can be found in the grocery store near the grilling supplies)
Measure out 1/4 cup of water heat water - it is not necessary to bring it to a boil. (I placed mine in the microwave for 1 minute.) Pour warm water into your glass jar then add the vodka and the essential oil and swirl the ingredients together until well blended. You will instantly smell the fragrant liquid. Insert the bamboo skewers and place in desired location.
The purpose of heating the water, according to the folks at Food52, is to help the skewers absorb the oils faster. I placed one jar on the kitchen windowsill. The room smelled so wonderful that I made a couple more. Last night we all fell asleep with the house smelling so fresh aromatic. This morning the scent seemed to have dissipated quite a bit. A simple shake of the bottle and flipping the skewers helped to freshen things up again. I'm thinking this is a must for my teenage boy's bedroom!
Some scents you may want to try: lavender, sandalwood, orange, lemon, thyme, peppermint, grapefruit and rosemary to name a few, each with its own aromatherapy benefits. Combine them for a more complex scent or use them on their own. Citrus and herb oils work well in areas where food is prepared. Florals, citrus and gum resins like frankincense and myrrh work well in other areas. Try them in mudrooms, laundry rooms, bathrooms, bedrooms and the home office.
Furthermore these essential oils can be used many other ways - in salt and sugar scrubs, body butters, bath melts, bath salts, body washes and bath fizzies. All these items make wonderful homemade gifts... and Mother's Day is just around the corner!
On Sunday I had the incredible opportunity to join 50 other photographers on a two hour walking tour through the old campus at Yale University. With a deep appreciation and fondness for history and architecture, I wandered through one of our country's oldest and most celebrated universities. Founded in 1701, Yale University has nourished some of our country's greatest minds and employed the craftsmanship of some of the world's greatest architects. To step inside the campus, is to venture deep into our country's history where every building and statue is evocative of an important moment in time. The Yale University campus is magnificence and beauty and wonder and I had the incredible opportunity to capture some of it's finer details. A big thank you to Jesse Thompson and Milford Photo for organizing this great event!
Months ago a grand announcement was made - The Lilly Pulitzer Company and the Target Corporation would be partnering up for a grand business venture. While the public was generally in favor of this colorful idea, there were those naysayers, of course, who believed that this partnership affected the exclusivity of the line. I would beg to differ and say that the "exclusivity" happened a few years back when the Lilly Pulitzer company went public. The line grew and stores began popping faster than Jiffy Pop on a hot stovetop. The brand began to expand and, while mostly, they tried to stick with the traditional, there were a few major guffaws. After attending The Angela Moore fashion show at The International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, a few years back I was rather horrified to see a model wearing a dress that looked like it had been specifically designed for Tanya Harding before the Nancy Kerrigan Incident. Yes, it was that bad.
But fashionistas, designers, celebrities and New England and Southern well to do Preppies do love this brand with it's bright and cheerful prints and colors. While I don't often don my Lilly dresses anymore, the colors and patterns make me smile. So, admittedly, I was rather excited when the announcement was made.
Target is, and always has been, brilliant with their marketing and advertising. Lilly always has fun, beautiful and often cheeky print ads. In terms of PR, no stone was left unturned, leaving some to wonder if this was just a big PR stunt after all.
I was excited but I certainly was not counting down the days, nor had I ever thought to show up in front of the store's entrance, to stand on line with the masses, before the doors opened. But somehow, I did. And this is how I got there.
We can blame insomnia. Sheer exhaustion had me in bed fairly early from a long, busy and productive week. After a couple of hours of sleep I found myself awake and unable to fall back to sleep, so I grabbed my laptop, noticed that it was the 19th - as in was April, 19th - "the" day. I decided to take a quick look to see if the website had gone live. It had not.
Now wide awake I hopped on over to Facebook where a friend wondered when the site would go live. I left a comment and my simple answer should have been just that, but instead I found myself engaged in a 3 hour hilarious and ridiculous conversation with 2 friends in South Carolina and Texas who also were all trying to get on to a site that kept crashing. Target certainly had not anticipated the sheer volume - though frankly I am surprised.
There were a few items I had been coveting. I wanted the beach towels, a few of the pillows, cushions and chairs for my daughter's room which is in dire need of a makeover. I perused the website "liked" the items I had hoped to get as I was told they would then be placed on hold for me.
My Facebook and Twitter feeds were beyond hilarious as frustrated Lilly lovers were starting to lose their cool. Others were simply along for the ride and somehow, the fact that no one could log on to Target's website - made the middle of the night hours that much more entertaining. By 3:30, I had to call it a night. I had a long and busy day ahead. No brightly colored tchotchke would replace my desire for sleep. But I slept restlessly that night as visions of Lilly items danced through my head.
3 hours later I found myself wide awake. Groggy but wide awake, I dragged my tired self to the kitchen to make some coffee. After the first few drops of caffeine trickled through my veins I decided I would head to Target at 8:00 when the doors opened. I had started this mad journey and now it seemed I should continue it. (But not crazy enough to get in line hours in advance!)
Meanwhile the website was still not working for me.
I left my house at 7:30 as I am about a 15 - 20 minute drive from the large, 2 story Target store at the Westfield Mall in Trumbull, Connecticut. I parked my car and decided to wait inside in the warmth of my car - there was a cool chill in the air. A line of about 50 deep had formed on the upstairs level. Down below was another line - I don't know how long that one was. After a few minutes I decided to get out into the chilly morning air and join the other, mostly women, on line and struck up a conversation with those near me. The line outside was calm and civil - as you would expect. It was about 7:45 and the doors were to open in 15 minutes.
A few minutes later a Target employee came out to talk to us, telling us to look for the signs with the pink flamingoes. The children's stuff was all downstairs and the women's, accessories and home furnishings were all upstairs - on our level. At exactly 8:00 the doors opened.
At the head of the line were mostly 20 somethings, young professionals perhaps, but I would venture to guess they were students from nearby Sacred Heart and Fairfield Universities. You would expect that these seemingly well mannered young preppies would behave themselves. They ran into the store, in a "these are the people of Walmart" kind of a way and headed to their destinations, not even stopping to grab shopping carts, and made a beeline for the apparel, pawing and grabbing at everything in front of them, arms filled with brightly colored merchandise, no matter what style or size. It was mayhem. I stood there, miffed, disappointed, jaw on the floor as these well dressed girls behaved nothing less than barbaric. There was nary a hanger left on the rods. It was 8:02 according to the clock on my iPhone.
The straw bags had been wiped out even before I had a chance to enter the store. There were a few wristlets and iPhone cases. I took 1 wristlet for my daughter. I had contemplated an iPhone case for her, but with inventory so low, I decided to save it for someone else.
Dumbfounded that the clothing had been mauled by a flock of blonde-haired vultures, even though I never wanted any, I headed over to the home accessories hoping to grab some of the cushions, towels and other items for my daughter. The metal shelves were almost wiped clean, I did manage to get a ceramic juicer and the picnic blanket that I had eyed online. And that was it. Word had it that there were only 6 of the chairs in the entire store. The display areas were tiny. I mean tiny. To say that inventory was limited would be a grave understatement. Perhaps it was done to control quality, something I know that is important to the Lilly Pulitzer brand. But this was beyond ridiculous. It was appalling. There was never enough to go around. Furthermore, stores should have had limits per customers. But they didn't and that is neither here or now. Some made out like bandits while some got nothing at all. Even more appalling is that items that were available for very reasonable prices were being sold on eBay for obscene amounts. And just like that the madness is over. Would I say it was a success? I suppose it all depends on what you view as successful and who you talk to. I think it was all very poorly handled, terribly disappointing and while I do believe that Lilly herself would have applauded the initial partnership with Target she would have been appalled by the outcome. But a true Lilly lover knows not to cry over spilt juice.
The trick to keeping your flowers from drooping couldn't be more simple. And while it's something that I've heard about for many years, I never believed it could actually work. I mean things that seem too good or too easy to be true usually are, aren't they? Well, this might be the exception to that rule.
Once a week I treat myself to flowers. I generally don't do anything terribly extravagant. The floral department is the first thing that greets me when I walk into my grocery store. The cheerful colors of all the flowers always makes me smile. A recent conversation with a friend led us to talking about the power of a penny to prevent freshly cut flowers from drooping. I'd heard this old wive's tale before, many times, and each time I smiled, and dismissed the idea. On Wednesday (long overdue for groceries and flowers) I decided to test out this little theory. I trimmed the tulips, filled the vase, added the copper penny and then placed the flowers into the water. Much to my surprise this little trick seemed to work! Below are three images of the same flowers that were taken on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
And so, well, I'm no longer a skeptic. I don't really expect the penny to lengthen the lifetime of these flowers but they'll look better while they're in the water. The theory of the penny is that copper is a natural antibacterial agent which will keep the algae at bay. Others suggest adding a few drops of vodka to their water, but I'd much prefer to stick with the penny and save my Belvedere for my Martini!