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The Winding Down of Summer Means Dahlia Season

Posted on September 12, 2014 by Rebecca | 2 comments

 

I don't know what it is about me and Dahlias.  Maybe it is that they are so easy to grow; maybe it is the tremendous variety.  Perhaps it is the vibrant colors.   Either way, I rarely have the heart to pick them.  I leave them in my garden for as long as possible to enjoy the enormous, colorful blooms that are like candy canes in my flower beds.  During the Great Geauga County Fair, I was able to sneak away from the Draft Horse Barn long enough one evening to visit the Dahlia display, the largest entry of flowers at the Fair, by far.  Probably due to the fact that the end of summer is this tuberous's most prolific showing before our first frost.  They are entered and displayed so simply; in a vintage glass milk jar or simple clear bottle.  Some of the blooms are as big as platters - they measure over 12 inches in diameter.  Some are no more than an inch across.  The colors are like a fireworks display, each leaf looks like they have been hand painted, sometimes in multiple colors. There is also a sense of symmetry about this plant like no others that I know.  Doing a little research,  I found that the great variety of these flowers results from dahlias being octoploids—that is, they have eight sets of homologous chromosomes.  Apparently, most plants have only two. In addition, dahlias also contain many transposons—genetic pieces that move from place to place upon an allele—which contributes to their manifesting such great diversity.  Who knew?! Usually, there is a hush in the flower barn as everyone assembles their dahlia entries, it is a reverent quiet,  almost hushed environment in the flower barn compared to the vast chaos of the rest of the Fair.  It is my treat every year to go view the splendor of the Dahlias, reflecting and contemplating upon the end of the summer and the arrival of early Fall, one of my favorite seasons.

 

 

 

 

Until next time, Enjoy!!

 

Best - Rebecca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Favorite Time of the End of Summer: County Fair Season!!

Posted on August 12, 2014 by Rebecca | 0 comments
The days are getting shorter and the gardens are in full swing providing us with all of that wonderful produce that we have been working so hard to nurture.  Last night, we had a glorious super moon that was fiery orange in the sky.  There is no denying it.  Fall is around the corner.
 
The end of the Summer in Northeastern Ohio signals County Fair season and in Chagrin, our fair is the Geauga County Fair, the oldest County Fair in Ohio, dating back to 1823.  Over the course of five days, tens of thousands of people enjoy one of America's most authentic agricultural and animal-based events.  Anywhere you can assemble two barns full of draft horses and almost a dozen eight horse hitches is a serious fair.  My favorite time is check in on Wednesday evening, when all of the animals come in and the Junior fair are carrying in their arms anything from turkeys to rabbits to ducks in all sizes, shapes and color.  There are cattle everywhere - pigs with kids chasing behind them and a generalized chaos, but in a good way.  It puts all of our tech savvy world of cell phones, video and Wii games on the back burner - even if just for a few days.  It reminds me of the roots of our country and makes me grateful that we haven't forgotten what farming is or what an impact that animals truly have on our lives.
 
I'm sharing a few photos from last year, including some of our Percheron girls. 
Camlyn at our house, getting ready for Fair!!
 
Derek and Camlyn, ready to go!
 
Did someone say "Fair?"
 
The Midway one evening...
 
Nothing better than Maple Sugar Candy from the Maple Capital of the US!
 
Yummy!
 
Canning for Fall
 
The Flower Exhibit Buildings - one of my favorites!
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I'll take lots of action shots during the fair to share with you as well.  Happy End of Summer!  Find a County Fair near you, enter a pie and take a child with you so they know what Farmers do!
 
 

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Traditional Home Magazine Photo Shoot

Posted on June 13, 2014 by Rebecca | 0 comments

We have just finished one of the most fun projects on which we've ever worked on.  A few weeks ago, Stephen Carlson, our good friend and Rebecca Ray Designs Marketing and PR expert who owns DVG Group, called me one evening and said, "How would you feel about the Farm being featured in the September Fashion Issue!?"  After I let out a giant squeal of joy like a small girl, I regained my composure and tried to sound matter-of-fact (but I'm certain Stephen wasn't buying it!!).  There was a small catch, Stephen mentioned, "They are on a very tight time line and they'll be arriving in 12 days. Is that OK with you?"  "Sure!" I gulped- the same kind of "Sure" you use when you hear that unexpected house guests are 10 minutes away and you are cleaning your closets! 

I got off the phone so excited... and then I looked around.  As you know, we were absolutely ravaged by a record breaking winter, and Spring was at least 6 weeks late. The 100 year old roses had been killed back to the ground from the below 30 degree temperatures. Builder Bob was just finishing the new barn building and there were still piles of dirt all over and a rather unattractive dumpster sitting in front of the barn.  Game face I thought.  We can do anything in 12 days, right?  No worries that Derek, my heavy lifter and my right hand was traveling for work and wouldn't be home until about an hour before the Senior Architecture Editor of Traditional Home touches down in Cleveland.  In fact, maybe they could share a ride home from the airport... but I digress.

 

 

So, "any-who" as Lizzie would say, we got to work, and fast! My family, who is pretty reliable in a pinch, came to my aid. My aunt spent countless days gardening with me and transplanting perennials.  My mom came to help me plant my baskets and planters while my dad rode old Fergie (the 1954 Massey Ferguson) with the big gang mover dodging the rain and lightening. Andrea went above and beyond helping me with the animals. I rode my little John Deere tractor (which Derek reminds me weekly, is not a brush hog - whatever) and I answered my texts and calls as I was on the tractor out in left field.  

 

Within 10 days a magical transformation had occurred. The gardens were back up and everything started to bloom on cue.  

      

The hedges were trimmed and the patio furniture sparkled.  

 

Even the horses seemed to know to stay clean - there was no extra time to give them baths!  

 

On the appointed day, the Traditional Home crew arrived!  We suggested that they stay in the Village of Chagrin at The Inn at Gamekeepers, a historic hotel.  We took them to several of our favorite places to eat, including Lemon Falls, a delightful luncheon spot in Chagrin where they make the best egg salad, home-made soups and bakery.  

 

It was fascinating seeing how they make all of their shots so beautiful by arranging flowers and furniture. We all had a blast!  

    

The Traditional Home team was absolutely delightful and we can't wait to see the Farm in the pages of their gorgeous magazine.  Look for the September Fashion Issue, coming out in mid-August.

 

In the meanwhile, I'll be recovering!!!!

 

Rebecca

 

 

 

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Rebecca Ray's Kentucky Derby Trip

Posted on May 06, 2014 by Rebecca | 1 comment

This weekend, Derek, Monica and I were treated to the most wonderful Southern hospitality as we attended the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks. I thought the thrill of the year would be designing and having our Rebecca Ray Designs Bags as an Officially Licensed Bag of Derby 140, but getting to go and see the behind the scenes of the Derby was the thrill of a lifetime!! I'm still in a bit of "recovery mode", but I am so excited to share the trip with you!!

       

We started our weekend on Thursday night, when we arrived at the hotel with hundreds of other guests from all over the country - getting all of the hats in safely was quite a chore.  As you can imagine, shopping for the outfits for this weekend of activities is enough to complex anyone!

 

On Friday morning, we headed off to the track for a day of racing featuring The Oaks, a race for the top fillies that is dedicated to breast cancer research and funding.  As the sun was shining, Churchill Downs was bedecked in the most marvelous pink banners and flags. Everyone was wearing pink - it was a beautiful sea of gorgeous dresses and hats decked out in flowers and draping.  

We stood on the edge of that legendary paddock watching our friend Jill Byrne, who is Director of Programming and official handicapper of Churchill Downs, tell over a hundred thousand people about her best picks for the day.  Later that weekend, Jill was gracious enough to wear her Rebecca Ray Designs Bit Cuff that coordinated beautifully with her Derby Red dress and gorgeous hat. 

We finished the night by sitting up in the very posh Turf Room sipping Lilly drinks (a fabulous concoction that involves vodka and cranberry juice) from our commemorative glasses. 

By Saturday morning, Derby Day, I had gotten the hat wearing trick down, and we were ready to go again.  This time we were sitting in marvelous seats on the ground level of the track, a few boxes back and one furlong off of the finish wire.  

All of our lives Derek and I had horses yet neither of us had ever bet on a horse! We received a quick lesson in the lingo and learned how to place a bet- Derek seemed to pick this up very quickly!

During the afternoon, we were treated to a special tour of the Churchill Downs, which included a trip to the inside of the paddock to watch a race prepare while they saddled, bridled and said those famous words, "Riders Up!"  

 

While on the tour we also saw all of the different levels of the building and the various clubs, including the Turf Club and the President's Room, where we viewed the Derby Trophies and all of the those famous sterling Mint Julep cups up close!!

       

 

Can't wait for next year's Derby!

 

Rebecca

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Following Your Heart in Designing: When the Angels Sing

Posted on April 04, 2014 by Rebecca | 2 comments

 

I have a very good friend who fascinates us every year with the story of his annual holiday trudge out into the fields looking for the perfect Christmas tree.  Here's the catch.  When he looks at it, the skies part and the Angels have to sing.  Then he knows it's the right tree.  Given his inclination to go to at least  6 tree lots and 3 barren, snow drifted fields a year before selecting this tree (much to the dismay of his wife and child) it is apparent that the Angels don't sing all that often.  We tease him mercilessly, but, I have to admit, yesterday I had an Angels moment. It got me to thinking about how we must follow our (or the Angels) intuition in design or we risk mediocrity. 

 

As you know, Derek, Lizzie and I have been restoring the century old farm that we recently bought, Hemlock Lane at Valley High.  While it would have been nice to tackle the interior of the house first, we have a responsibility to all of our furry, four footed friends, small and large, to have them in proper accommodations.  And, truthfully, it makes taking care of them so much easier!!  While this winter was not exactly the perfect weather to build a 3,500 square foot barn, we persevered (a lot like the pioneers) through -30 degree days, frozen foundations heaving and raging blizzards.  Fortunately we are over the hump, and the barn and kennels are coming along.  We should have everyone tucked in within the month.  

 

Yesterday, Builder Bob, who, in his great defense has lived through over ten years of home and barn renovations with me, showed up with a paver in his hand.  Bob was a little grumpy when he said to me, "If you don't pick the product we are using to pave the center aisle of the barn in the next hour (and have it delivered, today, I might add), I am selecting the surface."  Well, there's nothing that I love more than a design challenge, especially under pressure.  And, while Builder Bob's paver was all right - that is all it was, average and all right.  So, I jumped in the car and went over to a little landscaper place where I have had good luck before with surface stones.  And they had lots of very interesting things to use on the center aisle that all would have done the trick.  But throughout this project,  Derek and I have been managing a carefully balanced wire act of what can we do and what materials can we use that are beautiful, innovative, different and, above all, don't break the bank.  I had $4.00 a square foot to play with and now, a half hour to find it.  

 

As he was leading me through the stone yard pointing to this and that, the foreman casually said, "Well - there is one other thing - you could always have that..."  pointing to a rubble pile of the most gorgeous used brick pavers.  As I turned and looked at them, the cloudy skies parted and the angels sang.  I suddenly knew what our friend had been trying to tell me all along about those trees.  I gulped and played it cool when I asked, "Where are those coming from?" "Indiana brick roads" he casually answered. "They are reclaimed."  Could this deal get any better?  They are environmentally friendly. They were in my price range.  And, he could deliver them the same day.  Builder Bob was never going to believe this one- he thought he had finally gotten me.  But, a triumph was about to happen!

 

I raced home, and Builder Bob and Derek met me at the back of the car.  I raised the trunk and there was one of my precious bricks.  I knew I had Derek at the words "reclaimed road brick" but Builder Bob was another story. "Bricks?!" he said.  Are they on pallets, are they clean?  "They are gong to be much harder to work with..."  He gave me the long, not blinking stare, during which I was supposed to see the light and agree to something more reasonable.  But I didn't.  I just told him the angels sang.  Lucky for me, Builder Bob is such a softy.  I had half an aisle paved in reclaimed road bricks by 6 pm last evening.  And, if I do say so myself, the angels are still singing everytime I look at it.  Those are some lucky Percheron girls!!

 

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