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!!!!






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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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Gratitude Changes Everything

Posted on November 27, 2013 by Rebecca | 1 comment

This is a photo of our daughter Lizzie the moment after she and her pony Peppermint finished a perfect round. Her hug says it all, without words. During the Thanksgiving Holiday season, we are especially grateful for the bond that we share with all of our four-footed friends at Hemlock Lane Farm and the unparalleled joy and love they share with us. Animals are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole.

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Thankful for Pilgrims and Pioneers

Posted on November 20, 2013 by Rebecca | 0 comments

Recently, with the storms roaring across the Midwest and North Coast, we suffered a two day power outage. Nothing compared to those who had total devastation from tornadoes, but enough to make me reflective of the tremendous fortitude of the forefathers and homesteaders of this country.  Now that we are on our farm, power outage has a whole new meaning - no well, no water, no flushing…you get the idea.  And, I might add, that when bad weather comes a' calling, there is an innate, sixth sense that all husbands possess, because, inevitably, they are on the way out of Dodge as these storms roll in. But, I digress.

When Lizzie was an infant, her pediatrician wisely advised us to read to her every night, even before she could comprehend the words. So to keep myself from going crazy on story books, I started reading her Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Over the last 10 years, Lizzie and I have spent many night sharing in the adventures, marvelous simplicity and joy of their journey across America.  I think it might have been the impetus to our recent mid-life purchase of our farm, Hemlock Lane at Valley High.  Lizzie is a confirmed prairie girl (as long as she can wear her Northface jacket and Uggs). Derek and I take great joy in having all of our animals on the property, under our watch. We love hitching those marvelous Percherons and imagining what it must have been like traveling across the United States in a covered wagon.

 However, when faced with challenges to maintain our home, property and animals this week, with no water and little daylight after work, I really reflected on how grueling an effort the Pilgrim's and Pioneer's efforts were. They simply wanted to live freely without persecution and own and farm their own land to make a better life for the next generation, but it wasn't easy.  When we recently took Lizzie to Jamestown, Virginia to see the first colony, we spent time on the boats that brought those first adventurers over to the States.

Personally, I only have a small near trans-Pacific crossing to relate to: Green with sea sickness, I nearly cast myself off a whale watching boat in San Francisco, 40 miles out in the middle of the Pacific (I'll save that story for another blog) but once I heard of the food chain in the water under us, I thought better of it.   You know - Great White Sharks, Killer Whales, etc… But can you imagine being stuffed on a wooden boat with no amenities, no fresh food and no idea how long you would have to endure the elements.  And, no, there certainly was no Coast Guard coming to rescue them when the going got tough. It wasn't much better when they arrived as they faced a long, cold winter, no ready shelter and then contracted illnesses in a weakened condition.

There hadn't been that much progress by the time Laura Ingalls Wilder's family set off from Wisconsin in search of farming country. No GPS to send those wagon trains over the mountain ranges.  No antibiotics when cholera and scarlet fever came knocking.  No way to take the chill off after battling a blizzard all day while trying to keep the farm animals safe or walk to school.  And no defense of the storms and plaques that wiped out more than one crop throughout the years.  Yet, they all persisted, with much joy and little complaints through the years as they paved the way for our modern America as we now know it. 

So, I know I grumbled as I was hauling gallon jugs out to all of the animals to keep them hydrated and I was cleaning stalls in the dark. Thankfully, Lizzie and I could take refuge with someone who did have power and we slept warmly, safe and sound.

As we rush through the hustle and bustle of the start of a new holiday season full of promise, magic and wonder - let's take a moment to remember those Pilgrims and Pioneers who had the courage, endurance and resilience to help carve out a democracy and modern world that we now enjoy.


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