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A Birthday ‘Look Book’ Celebrates Life’s Mix of High Points and Sad Lows With Love and Hope


I just celebrated another wonderful birthday. Lucky me! And marking a birth day so close to the start of the new calendar year offers the chance to both look back and plan ahead in a tidy way. I’ve had a mix of lovely high points and some sad lows with an unexpected loss that has left me unmoored… Yet, I remain grateful and genetically happy.  Efficiency being a kind of attribute of my zodiac sign, I can happily check off a few boxes at the same time. 

While I’m preternaturally superstitious, it’s also true that I cling to the idea ~ or I daresay promise ~ of astrology. Who doesn’t look to celestial bodies and the stars to help plan their lives?  A “Look Book” portfolio beckoned…

I’ve always been most grateful to be an earthy Capricorn. I very much identify with my sign’s traits: after all, I’m loyal, dedicated, organized, too sensitive, and it’s true that I strive to get to the top as most ambitious she-goats are said to do; goal-oriented, looking ahead to challenges and goal-oriented opportunities, hard-working and enthusiastic about life. 

At the same time, birthdays give us the moment to not only “pin the tail on the donkey” birthday games and flowers and dinners and toast to those attainable goals, but also to reflect, and to give gratitude for what the past year has brought us.

As I looked back through my oh-so-many photos from the past year, I was reminded how very blessed I am, in spite of coronavirus, my own puzzling, inexplicable health issues that descended on me in 2020, and the often scary state of the world… I am nevertheless one of those very life-affirming Capricorns.  As I said in my recent Ladies Who Lunch Conversations, “I was born with way too much of the happiness gene.” (wink) 

It is in a spirit of hope and determination to manifest and dream a happier, healthier life that I share my look back on the last year to help us all be inspired to persevere, to not only endure but to embrace and celebrate the “little things” in our lives. To be present and to practice gratitude. I’m proud to share my little wins. Hope they make you smile and inspire you.  

These are a few of my favorite year memories:


It was a quiet but joyful birthday. Bill got me these luscious flowers. My Duchess Martini (see my Art of the Garnish book 🙂 to imbibe while reading my birthday cards. Don’t underestimate how lovely and heartwarming a handwritten card or note can be. Simple but heartfelt.  Winter, outdoor parties worked! Even in the cold North. Winter-blooming camellias and, in general, plants’ winter sculptural forms I discover on my daily Wellness Walks keeps my curiosity and inquisitiveness throttling.  

Zoom meetings and lectures keep my intellectual pursuits stimulated. For example, our first Plant-O-Rama took place on Zoom, and it was excellent. The technology allowed us to view the talks, the vendors, and even “meet up” with fellow horticulturists for walks in the garden. You can register online to attend this year’s Plant-O-Rama next week.

During the last year, I also got to attend other historical and fine art lectures from respected sources such as Christies, The New York Botanical Garden, Untermyer Garden, the 92nd Street Y, the Frick ~ love their “Cocktails with the Curator!” And the Metropolitan Museum of Art, not only for the exhibits but also for their Friday balcony concerts. Note: memberships are more critical than ever so please do either renew or become a member of a favorite cultural institution. While they provide a ton of free content these days, they need the money. 




I belong to a few theater groups. I prefer dramas and the small companies that used to be near us, downtown New York City. While we do attend Broadway shows ~ with all the traditions of pre-”thee-ay-ter” lunch or dinners depending if we were doing a matinee or evening performance however, these smaller, local theaters provide artists a forum to showcase their writing, directing, staging, and acting. Seeing a performance like this from MCC is frankly, not quite the same with no set design or staging. But hey, I adore Marissa Tomei, so it was a great show. 

I also joined Slow Food East End ~ I know and support my Homegrown Long Island food network so this was a no-brainer. The first online event was a baking demonstration by James Beard Award-Winning pastry chef, Claudia Fleming, who is featured in my Homegrown cookbook. I purchased Claudia’s new/reissued, “The Last Course” & Claudia graciously autographed the beautiful, creative, artful cookbook to Bill and me.

February was game day for the Superbowl, (is it just me or does this football game get later and later on the calendar?!). For me, the game was really an opportunity to create fun, themed cocktails and food!  

Valentine’s Day brought more ways to say “I love you.” Bill got me these gorgeous blooms and Mother helped me make some tablescape place cards. I continue to celebrate each and every holiday in style. Even when nobody but us chickens are going to sit at the table, I continue to do my tablescapes with a determined flair.  

And after some years planning to do a series featuring inspiring women I finally did it! Undeniably, I had planned to have the conversations in restaurants around town. But hey, I had to pivot. In February, I launched “Ladies Who Lunch Conversations” on Facebook to much success. Thank you! Each month, I interview a woman to explore the captivating & inspiring stories about her extraordinary art, career, & learning journeys~to make our lives better, richer. They share their challenges & tips on how to turn a talent, hobby, or dream into a well-lived life. In the Before Times, we were able to readily network. 

I believe ideas have agency

In the absence of being able to meet up to support one another, to introduce each other to folks who can mutually benefit and grow from such relationships I wanted to create that sharing of information, ideas, and contacts.  New Yorkers, I must add, are the tops at networking. Everyone from the doorman to the massage therapist knows somebody who knows somebody who can help you get that screenplay read or that book deal or that restaurant filled…

My monthly broadcasts have been a most rewarding enterprise. I invite and coordinate the schedule that works best for my special guest. I do the interview from my dining table that is styled and themed for the appropriate holiday and/or season. Likewise, the guest is seated at her table or desk ~ whatever “speaks” to her passion. Visually it’s striking for the viewer.  Bill is my Marty Scorcese, I joke. But seriously, he’s a very good cameraman. My first guest was the inimitable Toni Sabitano, interior designer, president of NKBA, mother, foodie, and animal lover. We had a blast. And viewers learned a lot. Thank you again, Toni. 

I don’t know about you, but the ability to learn another language while at home has been yet another luxury. I don’t often get to the top spot: ergo the screen shot. Ha. Seriously, for me it’s more / all about the learning, not the trophy. Learning a language keeps one’s brain charged plus I enjoy practicing over my coffee after meditation ~ part of my morning ritual. 

And truly a milestone, Mother and Bill were able to get their first covid vaccines! As a former nurse, Mother and friends (they are true senior citizens, with Mother leading the way at 96+!) We later learned that the vaccines were about 20 years in the making and with a mix of American science dedication, karma, government support, and divine intervention, the vaccines were finally available to help us all ~ especially the most vulnerable.  The day of the vaccinations was a movie unto itself with dramatic, fun “chaos,” community, but moreover, ultimate professionalism. Bless you, healthcare professionals.     

How did I not know Amanda Gorman?  I cried at her inaugural poetry like i haven’t since reading Edna St. Vincent Millay..  Gorman has written that her poem offered hope. The hill we climb continues… 









It’s hard to imagine that March was our first time dining out in Gotham since the “Before Times.” And “out” is the operative word, here! There was never any doubt that New Yorkers are plucky. But to see outdoor dining “pavilions” that were adorned with flowers, that looked like igloos, and of course, had heaters, it was a surprise. Restaurateurs had to be extremely resourceful. The outside dining rooms were unconventional yet exciting. Imagine our surprise entering the indoor part of this Park Avenue restaurant and finding duo sinks near the maitre d’s station to allow patrons to wash their hands! 

ABC Carpet didn’t seem to miss a beat. I was looking for tablescape items and inspiring decor and found aplenty. Checking out, we couldn’t help but “check out” the wowsy style by another customer’s looowww slung yoga pants, thong, and red fur ensemble. No fear… 

We also lamented the loss of some of our favorite restaurants. Here you see Bill trying to catch a clue as to our bistro around the corner where we’d meet for fun and business… And later, the loss of our family-owned, Italian food market over on University… We kept losing what makes a neighborhood and a community…

On the plus side, I was honored to have been an invited guest to the School of Professional Horticulture’s graduation ceremony. Conducted via Zoom, I was proud to watch the graduates’ presentations. They are the future of horticulture. I was reassured that we are in good hands.

I enjoyed the Zoom lecture featuring Stone Barne’s Dan Barber (a chef who we worked with when I was writing and photographing my NYC Homegrown Cookbook and who now lives in our building in Gotham. See what a small world NYC is? Six degrees of separation…)

At one point, I felt that since we were spending more time at our country house, and understandably, in the bedroom ~ where we also watch some television and when the weather is nice, can open the French doors, sit and read, so I (gulp) splurged on new blue and white bed linens from Frontgate.  We love it.

I also got my first at-home cotton candy maker! What fun. Mother and Bill and I felt like kids at the Boardwalk! I love using it for delectably charming desserts, and as a tablescape accessory, too. 

My March tablescape design turned out to be a rhapsody in green and gold ~ a layered look in textured elements like the flowers, crystal, and dinnerware from Echo with bold green borders, candles, and more. By the way, you can view all my tablescape designs on my YouTube channel. 

The March table decor was a lovely tableau to host the second Ladies Who Lunch Conversations with the inimitable Doniece Sandoval. Doniece is a force of nature and has accomplished so very much. If you haven’t yet watched this Conversation, I urge you to do so. And to support Doniece’s campaigns. 

March also kicked off a very, very dynamic garden design season for me and my team. The design process is creative art that transforms a client’s outdoor living space. More than ever this year, especially in light of covid, I found that clients wanted to create outdoor “rooms” that offered them a palette of options for enjoyment ~ from dining to games, to pets (many had recently adopted rescue animals), to edible gardens. Yeah. 

So many early bloomers gave us reason to adore Mother Nature ever more. The magic of plants is astonishing.

Finally, I was able to get my first vaccine. I was kinda scared but it was a no brainer. And reason to celebrate. Several times, I whipped up my Verdant Green Jangala cocktail from my Art of the Garnish book. The pretty, edible violet bloom from Flavour Fields is the perfect garden-to-glass garnish. 









Flowers, blooms, petals. The images excite me just looking again. April makes me think sunshine yellow. 

I followed this intuition when designing my April tablescape. At the local second-hand store, I purchased a yellow glass vase with a kind of arms-open- wide-look. Perfect for showcasing April’s exuberant daffodils. 

The April Tablescape was a happy not to Spring. I loved the new Portuguese cabbage plates and French cabbage plate chargers. Of note, I used real cabbages with the center carved out to make it a container for yellow ranunculus. It was an Easter tablescape to swoon over. 

The tablescape also hosted a very special Ladies Who Lunch Conversations with guest Jan Johnson, the adored and respected author and landscape designer. Thank you again, Jan. If you haven’t seen the Conversation, you can watch at the Ladies Who Lunch Facebook page and on my earlier Garden Glamour post. 

Me and the Duchess Designs garden design team were hard at work in April with horticulture, including pruning and prepping gardens for May planting.  The nurseries were fully stocked and a sight to set my heart aflutter.  In terms of maintenance, I came up with a novel way to prune high hedges (video at my YouTube)! And there were ever more bulbs blooming ~ who doesn’t love the elegant fritillaria ~ the orange beauties here from a client’s garden design I did in 2020.  

Likewise, there was an abundance of bulbs, flowers, and food at our Union Square Greenmarket in NYC.  We had started going back into town about once a month… Regrettably, I saw my Health and Racquet Club had closed its doors. It looked so sad and abandoned.  I was there faithfully, every morning during the week. A ritual that becomes a part of your very fiber. It hurt to see it like this…






An eagle perched on a nearby limb. Cherry blossoms like pink snow. Spring bulb blooms crescendo. Cherry Laurels in bloom create a heady, fragrant garden room that never fails to make our heads spin and our hearts swoon. 

The May tablescape was inspired by the month’s Ladies Who Lunch Conversations guests: Nancy Twardowski-Vallarella and Myra Naseem. Nancy suggested a Mother’s Day Tea Party. I thought it couldn’t be a more perfect theme. It inspired my over-the-top table decor ~ what I later came to refer to as Mad Hatter meets Bridgerton. 

Nancy’s exquisite tea service was so artful plus has such an interesting origin story. She also networked us to Serendiptea, the boutique women-owned purveyor of top quality teas. Kismet!   

With the duo of guests, I thought how perfect to double the love ~ and invite my Mother, Virginia, to join the Conversation. It was a Mother’s Day celebration, after all. if you haven’t yet, I heartily and humbly suggest you watch this episode, available on the Facebook page.

Furthering the tea theme, I wanted to get my Mother a covid-safe Singing Telegram for Mother’s Day to help support the Broadway stars who were unable to perform in the theaters due to the pandemic. I chose: Tea for Two!  Not only was the rendition pitch-perfect, it was a true “double the pleasure:” we got to help out the arts, and Mother got a special treat. 

Cherry blossoms are the heart-stopping garden-to-glass garnish for our martinis. Drink with the seasons! 

I recommend to my clients that annuals and container plantings go in after Mother’s Day in order to make certain that all chance of frost have passed, so May had the Duchess Designs team doing the client plantings with the pop of colors that annuals provide us. 

The tree peonies I planted the year prior, bloomed with nobility! These larger, woody relatives of the more common herbaceous peony bloom first before their cousins and are to die for.

On the way to the nurseries, there are times that I just have to pull the car over to stop and take a photo of the horses grazing on the land. Look at the yellow fields.  It’s a miracle of nature…Embrace the moment… (and no horticulture maintenance needed!) 

I also completed some earlier designs ~ here was a mini one that artfully foils a new generator the size of an old Volkswagen (!). The iron screens, boxwood, stone, and clematis turned an ugly corner into a bespoke garden design. 

I was honored to have been asked to be a featured participant in the May fundraiser, “Butterflies for Maddy,” A Garden Fashion Show that, according to the Facebook support page, was created in honor of 19 year- old Madalyn Elizabeth Massabni. A tribute to her life. Maddy tragically passed away at the age of 19 from mTSS (Menstrual Toxic Shock Syndrome). The event was a fundraiser for

The very talented Jordan Grace Robinson ~ and a Ladies Who Lunch Conversations guest ~ invited me to design a tablescape for the event. Having met Maddy’s mother the year before, I threw myself into the project with passion. I had been totally in the dark that death from menstrual toxic shock still existed. That in itself was shocking… 

With butterflies as the Maddy inspiration, along with her favorite colors of blue and pink, I created a very long/extended table design that was bejeweled with flowers ~ real and faux, silk butterflies, and fans, and body “tatoos” to name just a few of the decor elements. I’ll write a feature on this tablescape design in order to pay homage to the cause.  

I was very honored to have been able to meet with former model and now a spokesperson for MTSS, Lauren Wasser, who lost both of her legs due to complications of TSS. Her now golden legs serve as a potent reminder of the dangers of tampons. Lauren was a surprise guest who spoke so powerfully at the event, I cried. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.  








That Rodgers and Hammerstein song, “June is Bustin’ Out All Over” wafted through our gardens and my clients. “Look around! Kook around” ~ I defy you to look away! The blooms are intoxicating…

June had me and the Duchess Designs team installing some major garden designs that transformed a blah, no-nothing space into one that both serves as privacy screening but also as a place of sensory beauty to be enjoyed from inside the home, from the neighbors perspective on the street, and of course, in the gardens.  We also did a fair amount of redefining other gardens by moving some plants to create new garden looks. Gardens are always changing, of course, but you can also thoughtfully move some plants ~ with restraint… 

In June, I hosted my first international Ladies Who Lunch Conversations with Natalia Ravida, the head of her family’s olive oil business that is now an award-winning global brand. Ravida’s EVOO is so delicious and so healthy/good for you. The Conversation discusses how Natalia pivoted from being a news reporter in London to return home to Sicily and work in the family business.

June hosts Bill’s birthday 🙂 and we enjoyed a lovely lunch on the bay ~ just in time before a big storm rolled in. It was dramatic to see…

Metro Hort ~ I am a proud member of this professional horticultural group ~ hosted the first IRL garden tours since the “Before Times.” Lucky us that both were in the Garden State: Pleasant Run Nursery in the morning and The Grounds for Sculpture for an afternoon lunch and guided tour. I’ve written about these tours on the blog here. Both gardens are beautiful and possess fascinating origin stories. And Pleasant Run has peacocks! 

I haven’t yet written a review of our visit to the then newly-opened Little Island on the West Side of New York City. It too is a compelling horticulture story. It’s a marvel of design and structure. And a very sexy park, to boot!  Can’t wait to attend a concert there, perched on the edge of the Hudson, enjoying music while gazing at the gardens. 






While we skipped the big birthday bash for Mother’s July 3rd party the year before, we were able to plan a party with our immediate family who all had their jabs. With the Fireman’s Fair back on schedule, we got to celebrate with the annual Fireworks display, too.  

Our tablescape was a Red,White, & Blue salute to Independence Day. The next day’s brunch there was just as great as the night before when we toasted Mother’s 96th, and niece Marissa’s birthdays. Two firecrackers.

While I still attended Zoom events, we were going out with jabbed friends and to the beach. It was great! And so were the gardens. All that spring rain made the plants exuberant. What a year for the hydrangeas!  Soon it was our anniversary: Bastille Day 🙂 and we enjoyed an extended food and drink day in Ocean Grove, stops in Asbury Park and those swan pedal boats, and worked our way back home to champagne toasts. Cheers.  

Waiting for the drawbridge is a right of summer. They are quaint and effective. Please don’t build high bridges…  We all need to take a moment. Wait. Look at the beauty all around. 

My Ladies Who Lunch Conversation with the multi-talented Nancy Addison.  Over our champagne cocktails we talked about Nancy’s latest book  ~ For The Love of Willy a sweet & compelling tale about overcoming sadness after losing a beloved pet. We’ve all been there. Pets are family ~ especially this past year ~ whether rescued, adopted, or saved in the wild. We need the love… I hope you enjoy this heartwarming Conversation. You can also learn how Nancy overcame lots to become a nutritionist (she helped Dallas star, Larry Hagman), author of many books, a speaker, a podcast host, and more, while being a world-class Mother. 












We indulged in more beach time than ever. It was a true luxury to pack a sandwich, a few Fishers Island Lemonades, a book, and an umbrella and chair.  I also feel blessed to be able to enjoy a Saturday morning yoga with a group of ladies and yogi teacher. We’ve been together for, um, a long time…  Beaches are a treasured, natural environment…

I honor my beloved father’s birthday in August. Me, Mother, Bill visit him at the cemetery. I do maintenance at the grave site, too. I wish our cemeteries were more like those in the European tradition but alas… 

August is harvest time for lots of fruits and vegetables from our edible garden and mini orchard.  It was another bumper crop for our peaches. I got a terrific recipe from a former chef who is one of my yoga ladies and her grilled peaches with our homegrown rosemary was delicious. 

Pretty white and orange begonias from the garden are delightful, tasty garden-to-glass garnishes for our cocktails. Tastes lemony! The star-shaped blue borage flowers are kinda like cucumber and another great garnish. 

Garden Design work included sourcing new sea shells to replenish walks. Interestly, they were in very short supply because folks weren’t eating out so much, so no shells!  The Duchess Designs team also added stones to a generator area. More clients are getting their own back up generators (another story) and I prefer to use two different sized stones in order to create a better, more compact look. It was also time to update a client’s welcome pineapples that suffered weather damage over the last few years.  Do you know the story of why pineapples are viewed as a traditional sign of Welcome?) I also did some remedial garden work at a Gotham client’s “Garden in the Sky” rooftop nirvana.

Bill and I and Mother also welcomed more family and friends, to enjoy our home’s gardens and outdoor dining. Hosting a beautiful niece, Harper, and her parents was so much fun. Children ~ and adults alike ~ find our water garden pretty and fun. The fish think so too… 








We felt safe and happy to host our annual Labor Day weekend with friends, Charles and David. It was truly joyful to spend time together. One of my dear garden clients also hosted us out in her forest garden gazebo. With Champagne!  It was no wonder the “army” of caterpillars were calling this garden home. We’d never seen so many in one place! Charles posted to social media and the gobsmacked response matched our wonder. 

We also were able to spend a Gotham day hosting my Hawaiin friend George and his partner, Richard, for lunch and a glorious walk on the High Line.  I met George in Cuba on a dream trip, and have stayed friends. 

What wasn’t so safe: we had to kill our fair share of the super-dangerous Lantern Fly and reported it to the tracking website. 

All too soon and too often, there were aggressive storms churning up the trees and outdoor rooms… We even had a tornado come whipping through. Never had that weather in these parts prior… We can’t keep just saying we’ll build back or “___ Strong” (you can fill in the state in the blank…)  We need to heed Mother Nature, climate science, and get a plan in place. Please. 

There were more Zooms, (love the learning) with Walter J. Hood and his South Carolina cultural heritage and a big book talk with “Tiny Plants” author, the cutie pie Leslie F. Halleck

My Ladies Who Lunch Conversation this month was with the fabulous, Macchu Pisco CEO, Melanie Asher. We talked spirits, cocktails, and most of all, how Melanie ~ a woman in what was by and large a man’s business ~ built an award-winning, successful enterprise. Melanie is mindful, philanthropic, and fun!  You will enjoy our Conversation ~ at Facebook. 

I had been asked to create some signature cocktails for a young couple for the wedding. One of the drinks was a Macchu Pisco special, “Pisco Passion Pumpkin Spice.”  Not only did the couple love but Melanie did too. And a pinch-me moment was when I saw an Instagrammer make the cocktail ~ with credit to moi, @Garden_Glamour  Thank you. 

We marked September 11th… So many memories…









October was a Big month. 

It was an honor to be selected as a Top Female Entrepreneur to Look Out For. Thank you… 

My tablescape design for this month was a mix of “It’s Fall Y’All” and a “Back to School” theme. Lots of glittery pumpkins, wagons from KinKa brimming with faux mini pumpkins, and “lessons” on the blackboards and gold-threaded burlap. Again, you can see full stories on my YouTube and Instagram. 

A client asked me to design a kind of “pooch potty” or “doggie commode” or what I came to refer to as the “Pooch Privy” for a puppy that his family was bringing home soon. I hadn’t done one previously but embraced the challenge and set about to create a good-looking, utilitarian landscape element. Two kinds of stones, ornamental grasses, organic shape. They loved it! 

It was a hot Halloween. The weather helped lift the Trick or Treat enjoyment. While we don’t get many, if any, trick-or-treaters at either our Gotham apartment or at our home in the Garden State, our friends and garden design clients, Gina and Ted, invited us to join their Halloween costume party. It was ground zero for families with the most adorable costumes. Plus, Gigi and Ted offered super-tasty adult treats!  Thank you. xox


It was another very Big ~ to have hosted the incomparable Karen Washington for my Ladies Who Lunch Conversation. Karen is an award-winning leader. She is a Visionary. In our Conversation, Karen talked about the solid foundation her parents gave her; imbued her with a commitment to community; the “sweat equity” needed to provide gardens as a safe haven to bring light, joy, & love to our communities and how she launched more than a few projects and organizations. While working her career as a physical therapist and mother! 

We were back in town. It was once again a filming studio in our building. I walked out only to have the director yell, “Cut!”  Sorry.  Mainly, Bill and I were there to meet dear friends Roberta and Bobby, at the Brooklyn Museum to see both the Obama portraits and the dreamy Dior show. The exhibits were spectacular.  Extraordinary.  We still had our head in the clouds when we dined at Roberta’s. My dear friend, Roberta, Loves pizza! It was too cosmic. 







The untimely and unexpected loss of our Beau understandably crushed us. It was a heartbreaking, nail-biting week when he died. Beau and my niece, Lauren, his wife, are so loved, that there were no less than four memorials to honor this irrepressible chef, community supporter and favorite son. The November family event was scheduled and there was no doubt we’d attend. Bill offered to drive us: Mother, me and my brother Jimmy. It’s no secret that I’m terrified of highway driving (ooohh those trucks and I figured with the shortage of drivers there were more inexperienced drivers on the road.) No matter, nothing would’ve stopped us from honoring Beau and Lauren. Overall, it was an emotional, draining, poignant, touching life moment. The grieving continues. I wrote what I hoped was a cathartic and helpful how to mourn post on loss of a loved one. 

Nature and plants heal us. I am grateful for our rainbows (for those that know this is surely a sign from Beau and his brother Rain). The winter-blooming camellias were most welcome. You’ll forgive me for thinking that their extraordinary and long-lasting beauty could be attributed to Beau. After all, I’d been taught that the hardy-to-the-north camellia came about after a Tar Heel breeder discovered camellias that survived a winter storm in the greenhouse; camellia is the official flower of Greensboro…   

On the design front, I was delighted and honored to be a judge for the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) North America’s major platform for global design. It was also my first trade show since the “Before Times.” It was so rewarding to work with a cohort of design professionals and to recognize and reward the “winners’ I selected. I applaud their devotion to sustainability and nature. 

I characterized this month’s Ladies Who Lunch Conversations with Paulette Satur, Satur Farms, as a love story. A Farmer’s daughter, Paulette is an accomplished, successful horticulturist, plant scientist, grower ~ who with her chef husband, Eberhard Mueller, (featured chef in my Hamptons & Homegrown Long Island Cookbook) has built a very successful, specialty baby-leaf crops, including lettuces, heirloom tomatoes, herbs. 

My Thanksgiving tablescape was a hunting, autumn-themed decor infused with gold and glitter. Of course. We were so happy to host once again, our dear friends, Ken and Wendy, after last year’s covid pass. It was good to be together to enjoy bonhomie, food and drink… 

And just when things couldn’t seem to get better, I received an invitation to participate in the Holiday House Designs benefit for breast cancer research at their Tabletop Event to be held in December at the former Elizabeth Taylor mansion in New York City. Naturally, the signature cocktail I created for the event had to have a violet color.  Oh, those dramatic Liz eyes…  I got sent a delicious bottle of Wölffer Estates new Gin to use in the cocktail. It is a botanical inspiration! I refined my early compositions – adding Lillet USA and Q Tonic, Crème de Violette, and of course, my favorite, go-to, edible garden-to-glass blooms from Flavour Fields with a violet pansy! 







The Holiday Les Dames d’Escoffier at the Institute of Culinary Professionals in Downtown NYC was a “red” celebration. Thank you, Karen T. It was great to see some of my culinary she-roes, especially Marion Nestle, and meet new great Dames.

I enjoyed our first return to Broadway (albeit short-lived) to see “Morning Sun” with dear friend Joanne. 

There’s no doubt that the Holiday House Design live event was the gift of the season. How special to work with Founder, Iris Danker and her team, especially, Shaina. Heartfelt thanks again to KinKa’s EunYoung for the glorious, violet-themed floral design for my tablescape, and for Patrizia NYC sustainable jewelry designs that wow’d the guests.

I was also so grateful to meet and enjoy the philanthropist and co-chair, Jean Shafiroff and renowned interior designer and co-chair, Thom Filicia.

I appreciate all the attendees who came to my talk on “How to Host a Posh Holiday Party” and book signing. Thank you. 

You can get the recipe for the signature cocktail, “Gilded Violet Eyes” at my Instagram or blog. And do consider contributing to Holiday House cancer research foundation. The need didn’t end with the party… 

My December tablescape design was all white and gold and subtle blue frost. White roses, gold glitter and candlelight set the table for holiday celebrations with some family.  It was also a time to celebrate with one of those festive cocktail parties I talked about ~ with Gina and Ted. They gifted me the most extraordinary martini pin that they purchased while on their Italian holiday; a bespoke design from Marina Calamai from Florence. I said I was lucky, but this sure proved it. Thank you!!! I will wear my martini pin with pride and joy. 

It was a respectful challenge to schedule the Ladies Who Lunch Conversation with New York City Ballet’s premiere ballerina, Megan Fairchild, because the annual Nutcracker ballet was on again/off again due to the omicron variant.  Megan is the Sugar Plum Fairy. Ahhh…

But we did it. The Conversation with Megan is a frothy mix of her book, The Ballerina Mindset ~ her role as mother, author, podcast host, friend, MBA student, as well as prima ballerina. There is so much to learn from this delightful, inspiring woman. Stay tuned. 













I hope you have enjoyed the 2021 Look Book. And I also hope that my ups and downs have inspired you.  It’s a journey.  Maybe bumpy at times… Yet my relationships continue to inspire me. We need hope and love…

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"Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

 I adore plants. Plants are my muse ~ they are my paramour… I’m a garden artist; a nature lover, & horticulturist. I’m an author & writer. My passion for culture & beauty, along with my trait curiosity, brings you an authentic celebration of life. I’m a storyteller ~ weaving the artful gifts of horticulture, garden design, tablescape decor, floral design, cocktail culture, garden-to-glass recipes & their glamorous garnishes, homegrown edibles, food & drink; & cooking, to bring you my flair & what I’ve been told is an avid elan ~ as well as the stories from those who inspire me ~ to pursue an elegant, enduring, & joyful, entertaining lifestyle. It’s an honor & a privilege to do what you love.

Join me to celebrate a romantic, garden-infused, entertaining lifestyle filled with artful design, sparkling dinner parties, peerless martinis, and copious magnums of champagne!





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Join me & my artful guests to explore the captivating, candid, & inspiring stories about their extraordinary lives, passions, careers; their meditation on life~that is sure to enrich ours. These inspiring women share challenges & tips on how to turn a dream into a well-lived life.

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