Iceland

I recently took a trip to Iceland with hopes of seeing the aurora borealis, and for some needed rejuvenation before beginning the many preparations for our annual Spring Open House here at Morning Sun.

A record breaking snowfall hit the day after we landed in Reykjavik.  The locals hadn't seen this much snow since 1937.

Iceland 4.jpg
Iceland 3.jpg

Everything about Iceland was enchanting.  The landscape, the abundance of natural hot springs, and the awe-inspiring northern lights that I was lucky enough to have seen.

Iceland 2.JPG
(This photo of the northern lights was taken by my friend Tai who happened to be in Iceland at the same time)

(This photo of the northern lights was taken by my friend Tai who happened to be in Iceland at the same time)

What surprised me about Iceland was the delicious food and the gracious hospitality of the people.  I was so impressed by their love and care for their land; this beautiful, rugged, yet fragile environment. 

I left filled with a sense of peace (and longing to plan my next trip back already). 

 

the incredible “dancing ladies” orchid

by Tracey Pestian, Morning Sun Manager

Since I have been employed here at Morning Sun, I have fallen head-over-heels in love with orchids. We normally carry several beautiful varieties here at the shop, and before I worked here I would dream of them being in my own home.  I used to let them intimidate me into not buying them (for fear that I would most likely slowly kill them).  I now have seven of them in my home office.   And they are all doing very well!  For those of you who also feel intimidated by orchids, I am here to let you know that if I can keep these beauties alive, so can you.

This particular variety of orchid is called “Dancing Ladies” and it is of the oncidium species.  Most oncidiums produce dozens of small flowers at the same time, giving you a spectacular show that lasts for several weeks. You can see by the shape of the bloom that it really does look like a beautiful lady in a pretty yellow gown happily dancing her little heart out.

Orchids need plenty of light, but never place them in direct sun.  If you do not have a proper spot in a window of your home, then artificial lighting works well.  Even fluorescent bulbs are efficient (use one warm white tube and one cool white tube under a reflector and place the orchid about six inches beneath the light for 14-16 hours per day).  They do require darkness at night.

Repotting your orchids will be necessary every couple of years. The best time to repot is when you see that new growth begins, shortly after blooming.  Fir bark medium is used and you may purchase this at any local garden center.

Orchids need slightly cooler nighttime temperatures for them to bloom.  Oncidiums tolerate temperatures from 55 degrees at night and up to 75 degrees during the day.  Some orchids will even bloom more than once per year.  Keep the bark medium lightly moist during the growing season and be careful not to overwater (yellowing leaves is a good sign that you are overwatering).  You may feed your orchid during the active growth period every three weeks with an organic orchid fertilizer that can also be purchased at any local garden center.

With good care, you may expect your orchids to bloom for you year after year. I am very much enjoying my new-found beauties and hope that you will too!

caring for maidenhair ferns

by Tracey Pestian, Morning Sun Manager

Did you know that Maidenhair Ferns (Adiantum) are not so difficult to maintain as indoor houseplants? Here are our secrets to taking care of these elegant, evergreen foliage plants with the beautiful lacy fronds:

  1. Place them in a draft-free area with bright, indirect light or filtered sunlight. Nighttime temperatures should be 55 – 60 degrees.

  2. They must have high humidity and consistently moist soil to thrive in your home. They work very well in a terrarium environment due to the humid conditions. If you do not have a terrarium, then you may provide additional humidity by placing the planter on a tray filled with pebbles that you can keep moistened, or place fresh sphagnum moss around your Maidenhair. Keep the soil evenly moist, although cutting back slightly on watering during the winter months. Ensure that her roots never dry out and do not let her sit in water for more than an hour or so.  

  3. Feeding monthly from spring through mid-summer (half-strength is fine) will keep her healthy and allow her to resist pests.

  4. Always remove dead fronds by cutting back the stem to the base of your Maidenhair.

  5. When she becomes root-bound in her pot, gently re-pot her into the next larger size pot using a rich, well-draining potting mix. The planter should have plenty of drain-holes.

Once you have the care routine down, you will enjoy your lovely Maidenhair in all seasons!

new year's eve recipe

by Tracey Pestian, Morning Sun Manager

As our year 2016 is coming to an end and a new beginning is upon us, I reflect on the experiences that have been presented before me over the last 12 months – some truly wonderful and some not so wonderful, but it is in our own perspective of each as to the hidden meaning that we must learn from them. One of the best experiences presented to me this year was becoming a member of the Morning Sun staff in March. To work in this environment each day which is truly like an Oasis, as one of you described it when you were in one day; I am reminded each day of Life, Newness and Beauty. There is so much of it in this world but sometimes we choose not to see it. I will choose to see it in 2017 and beyond. I just LOVE it when you, our dear customers, come in our door and I hear our little bells on the door jingling, only to see you take it all in, in your breath, your eyes, and your heart. I love it when you tell us that you just came in for ‘therapy’ or just to ‘breathe’.  I get that. You are all so precious to us.

Another wonderful experience has been my introduction to Juliska! After living in Europe some years ago, this inspiring and soulful artisanal line of stoneware ceramics and mouth-blown glass takes me back there each time I use them. One of my favorites is the Graham Rocks Glass - 8 ounces of gorgeous glass that makes my Old Fashioned taste so much better! Since New Year’s Eve is almost upon us, I am sharing my recipe for a great Old Fashioned with you: 

Place a few ice cubes into the Juliska Graham Rocks Glass. You don’t want so much ice that it waters it down or too little ice that it is not cold enough. Then take one Silver Dollar size piece of a Naval Orange rind and twist it over the ice and place it inside the glass the side of the ice cube. Add 2 ounces of good Bourbon (my favorites are Blanton’s, Buffalo Trace or Woodford Reserve) to the glass. Add 1-2 teaspoons of Simple Syrup (I make my own using unrefined sugar, but store-bought will do) to the glass. Then add about 4 dashes of Angostura Bitters. Add 2 Luxardo cherries (if you have not experienced Luxardo cherries, you must do so! I buy them at Arrow Wine), ensuring that you get some of the cherry syrup when spooning them out of the jar.

Then, last but not least, using a cocktail stir-stick, gently whirl the drink around in the glass for a minute before you take your first sip. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your cocktail, letting all your cares float away….with my very best wishes to you and yours…Happy New Year!

 

Old Fashioneds in Juliska's Graham Rocks Glasses - Yum!

bringing the plants in

As we lose the light earlier and the nights get cooler, it is time to spend a little more time inside.  I find myself pulling in the plants that have summered on the porch and patio to now take their places back in the windows, creating a renewed feeling of home. 

I nestle my favorite chair, throw my favorite wool blanket over the back, making the perfect place to read, or just rest and reflect.

I nestle my favorite chair, throw my favorite wool blanket over the back, making the perfect place to read, or just rest and reflect.

Surrounding ourselves with plants makes a house a home.  Not only are the plants visually pleasing, but they are working for us to provide oxygen, cleansing the air and neutralizing orders naturally.

wabi sabi

by Sherri Gilmore, Morning Sun Designer

As a new "instagrammer" this past year, in addition to following friends and family, I also follow many other artists.  Exposure to beautiful imagery that I crave as a visual person and as an artist myself, has stirred in me a desire to explore other aspects of my artistic side.  I have started taking crochet lessons and will be soon starting guitar lessons (again).

I also appreciate learning about artistic terms or crafts of which I'm not familiar:  Wabi sabi is one such term that I learned about from an article I happened upon on wholeliving.com.  It is an aesthetic philosophy in Zen Buddhism that celebrates beauty in simplicity, imperfection, age and wear.  There is an appreciation for that which is handmade and authentic.  As described in Whole Living's article, "Wabi Sabi Your Life:  6 Strategies for Embracing Imperfection", wabi sabi is "asymmetrical heirloom vegetables and handmade pottery, crow's feet and the frayed sleeves of a favorite sweater, exposed brick and the first draft of a difficult letter.  It isn't about giving way to carelessness or seeing a junk pile through rose colored glasses.  It's about appreciating, showcasing, and sustaining the beauty of what's natural."

Here is an example of wabi sabi - my favorite wooden bowl at Morning Sun:

Notice the many imperfections in the craftsmanship, and how a large crack lovingly repaired with a metal fastener (which might make some want to throw it out altogether) lends this bowl cherished character.

Notice the many imperfections in the craftsmanship, and how a large crack lovingly repaired with a metal fastener (which might make some want to throw it out altogether) lends this bowl cherished character.

Abandoning perfection is the key to living a wabi sabi lifestyle.  The article describes how to bring aspects of wabi sabi into 6 different areas of our lives: relationships, food, home, beauty, closets, and work.  It is a quick recommended reading for those wishing to simplify their lives.  Check it out!

http://www.wholeliving.com/133628/wabi-sabi-your-life-6-strategies-embracing-imperfection

new york

I was given the gift of having a glimpse into another world of retail - the way I think it should be - and not in a corporate sense, but full of the passions and styles of many individuals combined.  My first stop was in a hard to reach area of Connecticut.  It was as if I had driven my car right into a treasure chest.  I visited a shop that had one-of-a-kind finds from Japan and Europe, as well as locally produced;  all beautifully curated and organically combined.  I've not seen anything like it anywhere else.  All of the other shops in this remote area seemed to have their own unique vision, yet each following suit with one another.  I truly did not want to leave this incredible place.

 

Reluctant to leave the lovely city of New Preston, CT, I left to visit my dear friend and supplier of the beautifully aged terracotta pots that fill my shop.  Campo de Fiori is their name, and it is derived from a small piazza in Rome, Italy, and literally means "Field of Flowers".  They are located directly off of Highway 7, and house a glorious barn that is surrounded by beautiful gardens showcasing the Camp di Fiori products.  All of their products are inspired by history and nature, and are handcrafted by real people.  Actually planting in these handmade pots is surely the next best thing to planting in the earth, as all of the materials used in them may be returned to the ground.

 

From there I traveled to Hudson, NY.  Again, their downtown area was full of unique storefronts and filled with individual shop owners, crafters and restaurants - no large corporate logos in sight.  This town is not sugarcoated either; it is only restored enough so that you can still feel the history as well as the energy of its past.  Even as I feel the need to travel the whole world, I forget that there is so much undiscovered right here at home.  The rest of this trip was equally as energizing - back in the city, a day spent with like-minded treasure hunters.

 

In New York I visited John Derian's pop-up showroom, located above the retail shop on 2nd Street in the East Village.  It was laid out beautifully with new pieces, and also showcased was John's new book which is due out this October.  I was privileged to get a sneak-peek, and cannot wait to have the books here in my shop - just in time for the holidays.   I will keep you posted as to their arrival. 

I have also decided to take the next step in my partnership with John, to include his collaboration with Astier de Villate ceramics.  These beautiful and rustic ceramics are handcrafted in France.  They are food-safe, as well as a lovely compliment to your table; or you may incorporate them into your wall décor.  I am looking forward to their arrival after the first of the year, as each order is filled by hand and takes 2-3 months to process.


Atlanta - Day 2 Cont'd..

Just when I thought that my afternoon would be spent walking the showroom floors, I ran into other friends and accompanied them to a 'preview party' for the new antiques floor - Oh! There is that familiar feeling I get - like I just can't take it all in fast enough because everything is so interesting and so beautiful - or like I can just feel the energy of each piece's history - the story you know...anyway, more little goodies are coming home with me - sure makes this all worth while...