I’d like to think that if all good things must end, even better and more beautiful things start right up again! 2013 brought changes at home and at work, with family and friends and, most of all, in our selves and the course ahead. After three and a half years of life in the country chronicling our adventures, shopping flea markets with new friends and producing stories for magazines, Jaithan and I took one last look at our Butler’s Pantry…
…and packed it all up.
Back to New York we went, settling into a modest one-bedroom apartment in Yorkville perched high in the sky where every toast rack, teapot, samovar, soup tureen, compote and cake stand crammed the shelves of the pharmaceutical cabinet my Pop-pop and I once stripped of its peeling paint years ago.
Guest room accommodations went from marvelous…
In the country, we used to love lighting fires in our living room that crackled and hissed…
…now we crackled and hissed at the “fires” in our living room.
The transition was tough, especially through the winter, but spring in New York always brings with it fresh, new life. It seeps into the bones and invigorates the spirit.
Soon we felt the familiar tug of our city selves, scouring flea markets in Chelsea and tag sales on Long Island.
Hello, old friend. I missed you.
In March I began a new position as East Coast Editor at Better Homes & Gardens. It’s a Meredith publication headquartered in Des Moines…
…with only a handful of us holidng down the fort in Midtown.
I consider myself lucky to work with such a fun, talented group of people, but sometimes they do crack the whip! (Clockwise from the left: Better Homes & Gardens Executive Editor Oma Blaise Ford, Senior Deputy Editor Kelly Kegans, Editor in Chief Gayle Bulter and, cracking the whip Des Moines-style, my good friend and colleague, Style Director Jessica Thomas.)
Jaithan started a new gig too, doing PR, marketing and merchandising for French furniture maker Grange, where he’s lucky enough to travel to Paris and work with talented decorators like Kathryn Ireland. (From the left: Grange’s Managing Director Heather Ryan, Liz Raymond Montgomery and Kathryn Ireland.)
Life in New York was good again, but after spreading out in the country for years with room enough to garden, to decorate and to entertain as often as we liked, “home” in our apartment on Manhattan’s Upper (way Up) East (way East) side never really felt like home. Every time I’d go to the kitchen to cook, I hoped I might have dreamt the whole thing up, and I was still back in our place in Connecticut reunited with my copper.
Reality, however, looked more like this, only there was nothing dreamy about it.
What we needed was a weekend house, a retreat from the city, something small-ish with charm we could make our own again. We found it in a 1930s Cape in Connecticut nestled in the southern foothills of the Berkshires just 90 minutes from New York.
The house is small, the land has a lot to offer. Years ago, this had been a working farm with pear and peach trees, scores of blueberry bushes and an apple orchard with just about every variety I know. Pine Hill Farm, we call it, named for the 200 year old pine trees dotting the property. Nothing about Pine Hill Farm is particuarly manicured and, for now at least, we’re keeping it that way.
The snow kept coming well into March, but finally, when the ground began to thaw and we saw for the first time the possibilities in everything, in reviving a life we loved, we…
…well…we screamed! (Here’s us on the Santa Monica Pier, holding on for dear life.)
But in that strange, blindsiding way dear life can be, one roller coaster ride led to another, and when we returned from California, my grandmother Dottie, whose passion for cooking and collecting plotted a course for my own life, soon passed, joining her husband, my grandfather Eddie, once again.
When I look at these pictures of Mom-mom and Jaithan, Pop-pop and me, sitting on our porch upstate, eating buttercream cake and smiling, my heart fills with gratitude. I love you, Mom-mom. I love you, Pop-pop. I miss you both very much.
Immediately, I threw myself into work, traveling to High Point where I (or a slightly more svelte version of me) gave my first presentation representing Better Homes & Gardens.
(Another would come in the fall at the Lauritzen Antique & Garden show in Omaha, together with two friends and mentors, Carolyne Roehm and Kathryn Ireland.)
Up at the house, with every passing weekend, the air, the trees, the birds beckoned more and more of summer.
When the irises burst into lush hues of lavendar and purple, I couldn’t wait to start creating again, making arrangements, setting tables, throwing parties for everyone or no one. Constance Spry, the English floral decorator, inspired this arrangement in a cast iron urn; the lavendar glass bowls I found covered in grime at the Antiques Garage in Chelsea, 20 dollars in all.
June brought a slew of guests to the house (here, my friend Elyse), where we’d spend mornings planting window boxes, afternoons picking blueberries…
…and evenings in the apple orchard eating dinner in the glow of the property’s old stone grill.
The peaches I’d often turn into jams; this was a savory one with fragrant lemon thyme, the perfect accompaniment to grilled pork.
In July, we cleaned house with a tag sale…
…leaving both of us in dire need of down time.
When September arrived and the nights turned brisk, the leaves fell blanketlike on the farm.
Saturdays in October we’d often spend picking apples and baking.
Some of the pears I poached for a dinner party in sweet red wine, served in antique Italian pottery from an estate sale shop in San Diego.
Weekends in the country, cooking, baking, doing flowers, I always felt so free, so energized to create. Instagram became my new visual diary and the place I tried to inspire others in my absence here. But during the week in New York, in that pint-sized kitchen in the sky, I felt trapped, dreading our return every Sunday, wishing it were Friday. And so, in a punishing turn of events last year, Jaithan and I decided to move apartments yet again!
The upside is that new homes create new decorating opportunities, like these lamps I picked up at a Goodwill or side tables I found dumpster-diving in New York.
Here they are in the September issue of Better Homes & Gardens! Check out this video!
The drapery fabric is Robert Allen’s Hidden Temple, and it’s a showstopper!
When November rolled around, I set two Thanksgiving tables. One I shot in the country with my friend Miki for Better Homes; the other I shot myself in the city for Design*Sponge.
And what’s dinner without drinks? Actually, make that breakfast. Here I am mixing up martinis for a reunion with Kathie Lee and Hoda on the Today Show.
After a Chritmas soirée in the city with an eggnog bar propped with pretty cranberry and opaline glasses…
we headed back to the country just in time for our first winter’s snow.
The house we decorated simply this year with a blue spruce tree from a local farm in Litchfield County.
After opening presents on Christmas morning, our friend Tori came up for a very Royal Tannenbaums holiday.
The champagne flowed freely, I assure you.
Jaithan and I spent New Year’ve Eve by the fire.
I made clams casino to start, followed by a stuffed pork loin, cauliflower au gratin and hericot vert. A friend on Instagram said the plates I’d found at a nearby thrift shop have a Polish coat-of-arms dating back to the 1800s!
Out with 2013, toasting with antique Bavarian coupes and celebrating…
OUR NEW BOOK!
Look for it some time next year, but in the meantime, I hope you visit us here where we’ll be posting once a week from Pine Hill Farm.
Of course, if weekly posts leave you wanting more, follow me on Instagram (#pinehillfarm) for all of the action as it unfolds. Happy 2014, everyone! We’re happy to be back!
Whew! Welcome back!
SO, so thrilled to see you back blogging and SO proud of you for your book! What a whirlwind this last year has been for you. With much love from Chicago!
Eddie and Jaithan – So nice to see you back, and I am dizzy from that tour-de-tour-de-force post. Love your creative energy! Eddie, hope you got the New Years note I sent to the 27th floor! Happy New 2014!
…is the new puppy home yet?
It feels soooo good to be writing a comment here on your blog. I miss you blogging, even though I follow along on FB. Welcome back and I am so glad that you and Jaithan have found a place where you feel centered and at home. Welcome back. Sending you both a two handed hug!!
happy to see you! so excited about the book! omg.. it will be awesome!
loved your post XO jan
Brilliant and heartwarming.
Lots of LOVE!
Yikes! You’re back! Thank goodness….instangram’s ok but really not as satisfying as a blog post. Love your farm. I must plant blueberries to go with my raspberries.
Boys, Thank you for updating us on your wonderfully fascinating lives! I followed you on here for years and then you went quiet, no wonder! I now follow you on Instagram and have done for a while, so at least I feel I can “follow” your amazing passage through this crazy world. You have made dream lives for yourselves and I am certain that your mom-mom and pop-pop will be so very, very proud of you both. People only dream of such a way of living. I often re-listen to The Skirted Roundtable chats (especially when I am cleaning my house) and yours and Jaithan’s is truly one of my favourites (“I am so over those periodic tables!” is a classic!!!) You are an inspiration together with Jaithan and I hope to read and see more about your epic journey.
Happy New Year boys! xx
Welcome back! So excited to see you blogging again and am looking forward to again being treated weekly to your inspiring photos and commentary.
Beautiful and inspiring post, so glad you are back to blogging and I am looking forward to this year’s posts. Congrats on your new book, I can’t wait until it is out.
Wishing you and your family a great and successful year in all aspects. Love the photos!
Hé ! Eddie it’s nice to read you, best recap
And also I Wish you an happy new year !
Marvelous year in review! I has missed the news about Jaithan’s new position at Grange. Fabulous! Much love & congrats to you both on a lovely year. Here’s to 2014!
Wow what a year in pictures! Sort of like Time magazine 😉 I’ve loved following along on instagram as you guys make pine hill farm home. Its so fun and inspiring to watch. I hope many more blessings come your way this year.
Yeah! I have come by often hoping there may be a post or two. So looking forward to see all the wonderful things that are happening. Congratulations to you both on becoming authors. I look forward to purchasing your book.
I am breathless from reading ALL you have done! That kind of energy only comes from doing what you LOVE! Everything is awesome and loving what you do with a house and apartment! Your finds are always amazing! Looking forward to what you do in the future! Wishing you both a Wonderfully FULL 2014!
I love following your adventures and the passion Jaithan and you share in life. Your honor of all old and new is always inspiring. Best wishes for an amazing 2014!
So glad to see a new post pop up to the top of my roll! What a year! Congratulations to you both, so well deserved. Will look forward to weekly posts as your drool worthy IG posts always leave me wanting more.
o.m.g. sooooooooooooo happy your back! i missed your super cool blog, however we did see/meet you in april @ h.p. lecture.
cant wait to see/ buy your book. must go, heading to mt. dora rennegers extravaganza flea market, for the day! all the best!
sam june & bill griffin
Thank G-d you’re back to blogland! How I’ve missed your posts.
After months of wondering where you were, a marathon post!! I’m glad 90% was very happy news. I look forward to all your posts. Happy, Happy New Year!
THIS WAS THE B*E*S*T New Years gift..yet!!How enchanting to read your’s and Jaithan’s Journal over the past months. Trust me when I say, “yours will be the first entry I read” when posted! Welcome back (to me) Eddie Ross!! franki
Welcome back! What a fun look back on the past year. I’ve followed you on instagram and have so enjoyed the images of Pine Hill Farm, but reading your description of here makes it seem even more special. What a gift! I’m so looking forward to following along here once again!!
Surprised was not the word when I saw this email, but very pleasantly surprised. Good luck to you both and I do look forward to learning new tips and tricks from you. I’d just like to say Welcome back we missed you.
Wow! What a charming year it’s been for you! Your photos definitely inspire me to dig out my pretty things and keep on the hunt for more. Thanks for the inspiration!
Congratulations Gentlemen!!! We so enjoyed your visit to Omaha and our Antique & Garden Show….and what a busy year for you both. Give Carolyne our love when you see her! David & Rick
You had a full 2013! I am so sorry to hear about the passing of your beloved grandmother. I look forward to seeing what you have in store for 2014!
Great to see you back posting! And life without change would be very boring, so congrats on all of your wonderful changes this past year, including the book! I hope 2014 is full of health, happiness, and happy changes!
YEAH! So happy you’re back. You are always so inspirational. (I just picked up some old crystal champagne coupes at Portobello market because of you) I’ve been checking in on you via instagram, but it’s just not enough. Welcome back!
oh my goodness!! I sure missed Y’all! Glad you are gonna be back here. Can’t believe how eventful your moves have been. It really seems like that new property was saved just for the two of you. Glad you can enjoy your city & country sides. lol
Blessings, Denise Marie
What a beautiful and heartfelt year. Congratulations, big hugs and a warm thank you for always bringing so much inspiration! Best, Catherine
And the Royal Tannenbaums shot was great! So funny.
Congratulations to both of you on your move, home and jobs. Looking forward to reading more on the blog and BHG.
what an inspiring wrap up this is -thanks for sharing! Happy new year to you both.
I’m so glad you are back. I too have missed you guys. Looking forward to posts of the new place.
Phew, I’m exhausted just reading about your lives! You two boys remember to relax occasionally, (and in return I’ll try and be a bit more industrious). Anyway, delighted to have you back in the blogosphere; it’s been very empty without you.
Eddie & Jathan,
The both of you look so happy. Sending lots of love. I am now a CT resident, moved to Ivoryton, studio &home. Miss you. Let’s talk soon. Xoxoxo
How great and generous to share your year this way!
Hope to see you and Jaithan again, sooner than later.
Much love from Alberto and me.
I knew all kinda stuff must have been going on with you two. You didn’t disappoint! So glad to see you back. So sad to read about your grandmother but you have really honored the two of them and I know you will keep them in your heart.
So excited your back! Looking forward to the book and the weekly updates.
Eddie, I loved following your year on Instagram & Twitter, and now reading the recap just amplifies the amazing year that it was. =) I hope you will be making your way south again soon! Would love to see you and Jaithan again! I hope 2014 is just as lovely and successful as last year was!
Much love to you both!
So glad you’re back! You’ve been missed! And congratulations on the book deal. Very excited to get my hands on it. You entertain like no one I’ve ever seen. Thanks for being such an inspiration.
Eddie & Jaithan,
You both sure know how to “dish it out!”
Wishing you both all the best in each and every endeavor.
If you need any illustrations for your book…..just sayin~
Be well, stay warm…..
Eddie, it’s so fantastic to see your blog running again! Cannot wait to hear more about what you and Jaithan are up to in 2014…And I’m SO excited about the book! Congratulations on everything!!
Great post, guys! Welcome back to the blogosphere. Your Christmas party was a blast, thanks for including us. Reggie and Boy
Pine Hill Farm is so enchanting! I’m very excited to purchase this book! I have such envy over all of your Goodwill finds you keep posting on Insta!! Y’all’s style is amazing!! Best wishes to you both in 2014!
Oh, how much I missed your updates, Eddie! I adore you, your blog, and your style. I am SO glad you came back to blogging! Thank you so much for sharing your journey over the last year with us. I love your new city apartment, and your country retreat is so charming. I am very sorry to hear about your grandmother Dottie. Reading about her passing brought me to tears (I am also very close to my grandma. Although she is till alive, I don’t get to see her often…)
Happy 2014 to you and Jaithan! Looking forward to hearing more about your new book!
Omg, I can’t quite wrap my head around your whirlwind lives.
Where does time go??
You guys have been on an amazing ride!
Well maybe we will see each other again this year as Chris is moving to NYC in July.
Miss you both terribly!!!
Let’s talk soon 🙂
Lots of Love,
Blimey what a year; tears and laughs and thousands of bloody boxes. Hope you’re enjoying your new perches, they look as gorgeous as ever. So happy to see you back!
Eddie I am beyond thrilled that you are posting again..I love a peek into your wonderfully curated lives! I will be following with great excitement…welcome back!!You have been missed.
Phew! What a whirlwind year! and so happy you landed in the country again. I’ve been following you on IG and the feel, the fires, the fruit picking, all are so inspiring. I wish you a grand year ahead, with lots of wonderful memories made at Pine HIll Farm. It is so beautiful, congratulations! Im so proud to see you all over the media since we met at the Dulles Expo fair and we are huge fans of the two of you. Welcome back to blogging- we missed you! xo Nancy
I might start crying with joy that you’re back. Your presence has been missed more than you’ll ever know.
And, is it too early to start planning your book signing in Rye?!!!!!!
Big hugs to you both!
Happy to see you back blogging! Congratulations to the two of you for your success this past year, and may this year be just as wonderful. I totally get the living in the country part… so grateful to get to live here- nothing like it!
E + J…
This post was beautiful! I love how creative you two are and it’s truly an inspiration to see what the year brought you and where it brought you. I had a similar year with my grandfather passing away and moving into our new home too. It’s funny how time changes things and how we grow into even better people with the adventures we go through! I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings us all!
A Design Story
Oh, Eddie and Jaithan you have been missed! So glad to find you again and look forward to reading about your adventures. Welcome back! Love, Marie
Whew! I had been culling the dead-end blogs from my Decorating Bookmarks and a little voice said, “wait”, and today Feb 15th, treating myself after pre-spring cleaning my office which is set up in the “maid’s” room up the skinny stairs from the kitchen, I find your new long posts to read :). What a lovely surprise!
Welcome back. Your creativity and vision truly inspires me, and brings out the best in me. I do hope you and Jaithan will be in the Chicago area for a book signing so I can get a “live” boost to my creativity. I draw so much strength from your authentic and fun approach to living in and loving simple beauty in our homes. Congratulations from a grateful reader.
You mention your new svelte self…as a master of the “before and after” for furniture, am I the only one who is amazed by the transformation you have accomplished on YOURSELF? Can you please let us know how much you lost and how you got into this great shape? I see recipes for pancakes and am left wondering what you did!!!