Summer should be savored, and one of the best ways to do that is with a picnic that includes friends, food, and frolicking, all served with a dose of our signature style. With that in mind, here’s a checklist to make the occasion elegant yet easy to assemble.

  • Plan your menu or not. Of course, picnic food can be traditional and include the standard fare of hamburgers and hot dogs, potato and macaroni salads. But we’re guessing that you want something other than ordinary, right? Why not make it a truly moveable feast by stopping at the deli and picking up some artisan sandwiches overstuffed with delectable fillings? Of course, you’ll want a bottle of wine, and to top everything off, some fresh fruit and cheeses or a finger-friendly dessert that’s easy to eat on the go.
  • And speaking of food, don’t forget your pets if they’re along for the occasion. Pack a special treat and an extra bottle or two of water just for them.
  • Pack two containers in reverse order, putting on top what you’ll need first. One container is for ice packs, food, and drinks, and the other container, which could be a picnic basket, will hold the equipment that you’ll need. Our handsome, leather-trimmed wicker Berries & Blossoms Picnic Hamper for Two is the perfect take-along for a cozy summer soirée. It’s packed with a wine opener and a pair of dinner plates, salad plates, cutlery, napkins, and wine glasses.
  • If you’re picnicking on the ground, bring a plastic tablecloth and a blanket, and put the plastic tablecloth down first so the blanket doesn’t absorb the moisture from the ground. If you’re dining on a table, make the setting more elegant with a cloth tablecloth, candles (and candlesticks), plus a small vase of fresh flowers.
  • Bring some protection from the elements, including sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat to keep your head covered (and to embrace your inner romantic novel heroine), plus some bug spray. And speaking of bugs, our Mesh Domes, available in our Courtly Check, Flower Market, and Parchment Check patterns, make dining outdoors much more pleasant, keeping everything stylishly covered from uninvited guests.
  • Want to just chill? How about a little music? Put together a picnic playlist that might include a few of these classic summer tunes: “Party in the U.S.A.,” by Miley Cyrus; “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” by the Beach Boys; and “Stoned Soul Picnic,” by the 5th Dimension. Or if you prefer, bring that book you’ve been meaning to finish.
  • Bring garbage bags for cleaning up. You can’t count on a trash receptacle on site because many parks have a policy of carry-in/carry-out. Leave the picnic site neat and tidy for future picnickers—just the way that you would want to find it.
  • Make some memories. Think back to what you enjoyed about picnics when you were a kid and relive some of those nostalgic moments. You might want to remember one of the great joys of childhood and, at dusk, catch fireflies in a jar (and later release them). We think it’s the perfect way to capture the glow that comes from a lovely day well-spent.

It’s barely summer, but we’re already thinking about our fall and holiday collections. We have so many new products that we’re very excited about, and we know you will be, too.

Want to be the first to know when these new designs are available? Get on the list! Sign up for our email updates below, and we’ll send you an email as soon as these launch on our site!

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Here’s a sneak peek:

Harvest and Halloween

The rich golden tones of autumn are found in our Harvest and Halloween collections, which include embellished pillows and kitchen linens, topiaries, wreaths, and other accents. You’ll also find dozens of uniquely decorated pumpkins in stripes, checks, dots, and more that are prime for picking from our one-of-a-kind pumpkin patch. To lend spooky style to the season, select beaded napkin rings, placemats and pillows, candlesticks, and fun and fanciful décor pieces that include a witch’s cauldron decorated with our signature Courtly Check. It’s the perfect spot to park some wrapped treats for your tricky little ghosts and goblins.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is all about family and friends, recalling old memories and creating new ones. Set that mood at your holiday table with our Pheasant Run collection of porcelain dinnerware and servingware. Handcrafted in Portugal, Pheasant Run features a colorful cornucopia of decaled autumn vegetation, which is trimmed with hand-applied gold lustre. Complete the table with our mouth-blown and hand-painted Pheasant Run Glassware, manufactured from top to bottom in Eastern Europe, home to some of the world’s finest glass artisans. All the Pheasant Run pieces mix with your favorite vintage dishes to bring an heirloom quality to the holiday.

Holiday

Our large and lavish holiday collection is presented in three color stories: traditional red and green, silver and winter white, and jewel tones that include aqua, fuchsia, and gold. Within each theme are hundreds of ornaments, embellished pillows and stockings, decorated wreaths, and other accents that are sure to lend a sparkle to the season. Also, we have a large group of playful penguins, many with Courtly Check accents, in designs that include ornaments, candles, and a cuter-than-cute cookie jar. Finally, if you’re a collector of nutcrackers, you’ll have ample opportunity to go, well, nuts. We’re offering dozens of hand-painted nutcrackers, nutcracker linens and pillows, plus a stackable display of four ceramic nutcracker mugs that are ideal for serving hot chocolate after a round of caroling.

Furniture

We travel across the pond for one of our newest furniture collections that was inspired by a chic shopping district in the West End of London. The Marylebone grouping includes upholstered furniture, tables, lighting, rugs, and kitchen linens, featuring a mix of florals, stripes, and plaids in a rich palette of crimson, ebony, and ivory. Another collection that’s a real showstopper and a bit over the top, even for us, is Tivoli Gardens. It includes exaggerated chair and ottoman silhouettes in a zany mix of eye-popping florals, stripes, and dots, in a rainbow of jewel-tone hues. Accents include hand-detailed lamps with embellished bell-shaped shades, plus a multitiered bar cart that’s decorated with floral decals and gold leaf.

Enamelware

We’ve added several new pieces of enamelware, including more of our very popular Courtly Check pattern. Look for baguette pans, canape plates, and a collection of coupe dishes that will broaden your idea of serving dinner in style. Also, taking center stage in what we like to call The Entertaining Kitchen are the Courtly Check Enamel Tureen, ideal for scooping soups and casseroles, and the Courtly Check Enamel Triplicity, a versatile piece that brings a little height to your kitchen displays while saving on precious counter space.

There’s a first time for everything, including attending our annual Barn Sale.

What’s the Barn Sale, you ask? Well, it’s much more than a sale. It’s a four-day event where deep discounts on our one-of-a-kind products, plus friendship and fun, come together.

Held each July, the Barn Sale attracts thousands (last year, 26,000 over four days) to our campus in Aurora, New York, which is in the Finger Lakes region. Attendees come from all over the country and a few from the far reaches of the globe to enjoy savings up to 80 percent on our ceramics, furniture, enamelware, and more.

Many regulars have a tradition of attending. They make it an annual girls’ weekend and connect with friends old and new. They camp out the Wednesday night before the sale on our grounds, and they take in nearby attractions, including the many wineries that can be found around the area. Our fans also amaze us with their creativity, and many dress in attire that honors their love of our brand.

Our 2018  Barn Sale will be held from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 12–15. You can find the 2018 Barn Sale information page by following this link. In addition, we’d like to offer some tips for the newbies (and some reminders for the rest of you) in what we like to call a first-timer’s guide to the Barn Sale.

  • First, bring a friend. Like so many things in life, the Barn Sale is more fun if you share it with a friend, especially one who has been here before. The Barn Sale is also the perfect opportunity to reconnect with someone you’d like to see more often, because you’ll have lots of time to catch up while you wait in line. You’ll also be able to take selfies with our special “floating frames” that you can post on social media. Who knows? Your posts could give you a chance to connect with friends you might not even know were at the sale or were fans of MacKenzie-Childs.
  • July weather in Upstate New York is unpredictable. It can be hot, humid, cold, rainy, and, we hope, feature beautiful blue skies. Be prepared for it all by bringing sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, bug spray, and an umbrella. A light jacket or a rain poncho are good ideas as well.
  • Dress comfortably and wear shoes that provide support because you’ll be on your feet awhile. You should plan to stand in line for three sets of time: getting into the sale, shopping, and waiting to check out.

  • Bring a portable shopping cart and sturdy bags. Yes, we do provide carts, but they can become limited at times. We also provide large paper shopping bags, but heavier items, including enamelware, might be better accommodated with sturdier cloth bags.
  • There is an abundant supply of products at the Barn Sale, and we do restock. Come prepared with the details that can help you make decisions about what to buy. Trying to match a color or a pattern you have at home? Take a photo on your phone of what you want to match or bring a fabric swatch or paint chip with you. Want to be sure that your new-found treasure will fit through the door or into a special space at home? Bring a measuring tape and the dimensions of the space. Also handy is a pocket calculator and a notepad to help you keep track of items and totals before you get to the register.

  • It’s a good idea to confirm payment information before you leave home and let your credit/debit card provider know that you’ll be in Aurora for the sale. If you have an issue when paying with a credit/debit card (we don’t accept checks), it can be difficult to contact your card provider on site because cell phone service in the area, which is rural, can be inconsistent. You might also want to bring a portable battery pack to charge your cell phone on the go.
  • Finally, plan to have a good time! We’ll have food trucks and beverage vendors here to keep you well-fed and hydrated. Think about taking in the full experience and camping on our grounds the Wednesday night before the sale and consider checking out a couple of the local attractions after the sale. We’re thrilled to be your hosts, and we want you to have a good time at this once-a-year event.

 

Often, there’s a story to be told about our products. It might be a tale of how a garden gate was named for a favorite friend or how our Courtly Check pattern evolved. The story might include tips for brewing a great cup of tea in one of our enamelware teapots, or it could tell how to decorate with our festive ribbon.

For the past year, we’ve been sharing stories like these on MacKenzie-Childs Television, which premiered in May 2017 and now appears regularly on the cable television network Evine. Recently, to celebrate our one-year anniversary on Evine, a nine-person film crew from the company, based in Eden Prairie, Minn., came to our studios in Aurora, New York, to film several “B-roll” segments that supplement what viewers see during our live shows.

The group’s tour guide was Rebecca Proctor, our creative director and chief brand officer, who also happens to be our chief storyteller. Rebecca also appears live on Evine, and of course no one can tell a tale quite like Rebecca, who still sparkles as she recounts how her own love story with MacKenzie-Childs began more than 25 years ago.

Over five days, in an orchestration of people, props, and lots of lights and cameras, the Evine crew filmed all around our 65-acre campus. It captured our decorators painting Taylor teapots and trivets and filmed how ceramic molds are made. It visited our Design Department, where our designers talked about the inspiration behind our products. And of course, Rebecca, being the hostess with the mostest, gave a tour of our one-of-a-kind Farmhouse and spoke about the rooms’ signature looks. The house, built in the 1870s, is a company showcase and displays MacKenzie-Childs pieces that are current, retired or one of a kind.

Evine hosts Allison Waggoner and Kathy Norton, who appear on air with Rebecca, were on hand as well and filmed short segments in and around the Farmhouse, including a grownup tea party in the front parlor, a brunch in the breakfast room, and flower arranging in the kitchen. Neither had been to Aurora before, and they were charmed by the “fairytale-like setting” of the campus, which overlooks Cayuga Lake. It was nearly as charming, they say, as working with Rebecca.

“I call her the magical sprite,” says Allison. “She’s infectious. You want to be around her and listen to her story.”

Kathy agrees, noting that Rebecca’s enthusiasm for MacKenzie-Childs comes across to viewers as genuine and is a primary reason that the brand has had such a strong showing on Evine since its debut. “When she tells a story, there’s a visceral reaction. Viewers want to be a part of her story.”

Allison says Rebecca’s appearances remind viewers of a time when you knew the people that you did business with on a first-name basis, be it the butcher or the baker. “Behind every great brand, there’s a story. There is an art form with MacKenzie-Childs, and Rebecca tells the story of things made with love.”

And besides, working Rebecca is fun, pure and simple, adds Kathy. “Working with Rebecca is like breathing in sunshine and breathing out rainbows. She’s joyous and so much fun. The time with her goes by much too fast.”

If you’d like to see Rebecca’s next appearance on Evine and watch many of the segments filmed in Aurora, tune in on June 21, 22, and 23, when we will kick off summer and celebrate being halfway to Christmas. To find Evine in your area, go to the Evine Channel Finder. To connect with our Evine Facebook, follow this link.

 

 

At MacKenzie-Childs, we believe it’s the little things that make every day extraordinary. These little things range from a piece of fudge in the afternoon to bountiful and beautiful flowers splayed across an elegant tea kettle that sits on your range. Well, today is National Martini Day and we are sharing two Martini recipes from Jessica Merchant (cookbook author and creator of How Sweet Eats) to make this day a little more extraordinary for you!

The first recipe, Espresso Martinis, is quick and easy with only three ingredients allowing you to look like the bartender-extraordinaire without needing too much direction. The second, Pimiento Cheese Olive Dirty Martini, can be found in her newest cookbook, The Pretty Dish (along with a recipe for those delish Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Olives).

We invite you to try both recipes to enjoy on National Martini Day and any other day you feel a little Martini is called for! And don’t forget to pick up a copy of Jessica Merchant’s The Pretty Dish for more than 150 everyday recipes with gorgeous color photos!

Espresso Martinis

yield: Makes 1 drink, is easily multiplied
total time: <10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1, 2 or 3 shots of espresso
  • 2 ounces coffee liqueur, like Kahlua
  • 1 ounce vanilla vodka
  • coffee beans, for garnish if desired

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add the espresso, liqueur, and vodka to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake for 30 seconds.
  2. Pour in a glass and top with coffee beans.

 

Pimiento Cheese Olive Dirty Martini

yield: Makes 1 serving, is easily multiplied
total time: < 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 ounces vodka
  • 2 ounces juice from a jar of olives
  • 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
  • Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Olives (from Jessica’s new cookbook The Pretty Dish)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the vodka, olive juice, and vermouth. Shake for 20 seconds.
  2. Pour into a frosty, chilled glass.
  3. Garnish with a few pimiento cheese-stuffed olives.

Shop this post: The Pretty Dish / Foxtrot Martini Glass / Tango Martini Glass

Recipes (c) How Sweet Eats
Images (c) MacKenzie-Childs 

With summer almost officially here, it’s prime time to make your porch or deck ready for relaxing. Getting your outdoor room in order takes just a little time, and you’ll benefit all summer long. Here are a few tips to help you get the maximum enjoyment out of the space and the season.

Clean it up
First, give your porch or deck a good sweeping and hosing down, and, if needed, a little TLC with a fresh coat of paint or sealer. You should clean your outdoor furniture as well. Avoid harsh chemicals and make a simple solution from a couple of tablespoons of liquid dish soap mixed with a bucket of hot water. With a soft brush, lightly scrub, and then rinse well and let dry. If there are stained areas on resin furniture, wipe the area with a clean rag dampened with a little white vinegar. You can also try sprinkling a little baking soda on a wet sponge to create a mild abrasive that will lift stains but won’t scratch surfaces. Metal furniture can be hosed off, but rusted areas might need to be sanded and repainted.

Look down and up
Now that the floor and the furniture are clean, consider what’s underfoot and add an outdoor rug to define the space and cozy it up. You might call attention to the spot in front of an entry door by layering a welcome mat on top of a small outdoor rug. Finally, don’t forget to look up, especially on a porch. If there’s an overhead light, switch it out for a ceiling fan with a light kit. To add evening sparkle, hang strands of outdoor string lighting overhead.

Take a seat
Is it time to refresh your furniture with new cushions? Pick those made with fabrics that have UV protection, so they’ll last several years. Then, add pops of color with lots of pillows. If space permits, arrange your furniture in zones. Create a dining zone for the dining table and chairs and a relaxing zone, where there’s a settee or swing that encourages a leisurely visit. Be sure to include a small table or two, which are ideal spots to park a cold drink.

In full bloom
For additional color and coziness, add flowers and potted plants. They also help to connect the space to the surrounding landscape. If you’re tight on floor space, bring in window or railing boxes for additional gardening spots.

Gimme some shade
To get full enjoyment from your porch or deck, make it comfortable. If your deck is fully exposed to the sun for most of the day, consider adding a large patio umbrella made with UV-protected fabrics. On a porch, you can screen the sun and provide some privacy with a roll-up shade or hang some floor-to-ceiling cotton curtains. And speaking of comfort, add a few citronella candles to keep the mosquitoes under control.

And now that the porch is ready, be sure to take some advice from the Porch Sitters Union, which promotes what it calls “the fine art of porch sitting.” It wisely recommends (and we wholeheartedly agree): Whatever you’re doing, it can wait. Take a load off and come sit a spell.

 

At the center of every great friendship are common threads that bring friends together and keep them linked. It could be a bond that goes way back to the very first day of school decades ago, or it could be a more recent shared activity like a love of cooking.

And, yes, those ties that bind could certainly be MacKenzie-Childs. Friendship is a common theme that runs through the love of our brand, and our Creative Director and Chief Brand Officer Rebecca Proctor has heard many stories about friendships and MacKenzie-Childs.

In fact, Rebecca has a story of her own. Several years ago, she presented some sweets on our Courtly Check Pedestal Platter and Piccadilly Pie Dish to her friend Cherie, who was hosting a party. Cherie, a self-described Bauhaus minimalist, found herself drawn to our designs and spent hours poring over our website, delighting in her discoveries. She sent Rebecca a lovely thank-you note, saying the experience had given her a new outlook on adding more color and whimsy to her own surroundings.

Says Rebecca, “Reading this letter made me really think about what we do at MacKenzie-Childs and how our point of view may actually have an impact on someone’s life. I realized it can be broken down into something very fundamental—beauty, creativity, and fun can and should reside at the center of our lives. They are inextricably connected.”

In the spirit of friendship and in celebration of Best Friends Day on June 8, we want to feature a few more stories of friendship from bloggers who share a love of MacKenzie-Childs.

CHRONICLES OF FRIVOLITY

Katey McFarlan, a blogger from Fort Worth, Texas, writes about fashion and lifestyle at Chronicles of Frivolity. Recently, Katey and her mother, Tammy, were one of several mothers and daughters who visited our Aurora, New York, campus. The trip gave Katey a chance to celebrate her mom, who is a big fan of ours and learned about us many years ago through a best friend. Tammy says she loved her best friend’s MacKenzie-Childs pieces and wanted to start her own collection. “I always associated the pieces with her, her hospitality, and our friendship.”

Your favorite MacKenzie-Childs pattern?
Courtly Check. I love the simplicity of it, while also having an eclectic vibe. It mixes well with so many pieces in my home, so I feel it is the perfect starter pattern.

What MacKenzie-Childs item would you give to your best friend, and why?
My favorite gift to give is hands down is the Courtly Check Enamel Tea Kettle. I believe that tea kettle has started the love of MacKenzie-Childs for so many people, so I love to pass that along. It was also the first piece in my collection, so I may be a little biased. Not much is better than having a neighbor or friend over for tea and conversation.

What item would you like to receive from a best friend?
I would love to receive a teacup because I think it symbolizes the art of slowing down, enjoying tea, and talking to your girlfriends. You can personalize the gift by giving your favorite tea, as well. I collect  teacups and would love to get the Thistle & Bee Teacup next.

 

LC STEELE

Lauren Steele, who lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina , writes the blog LC Steele. Lauren, who visited our campus in June 2017, learned of the brand after seeing it in her best friend’s kitchen when they were in law school together. “Her Courtly Check Everything Bowl brought a sense of warmth and hominess to the space we spent hours in studying or snacking and talking. Over the three-year span, I watched her collection grow, as every Christmas she received pieces from her mom and aunts. The apartment became even more fun and colorful, in a world full of black and white law books, and my love for the brand was sealed!”

Your favorite MacKenzie-Childs pattern?
Parchment Check. It’s fun and whimsical but still neutral, so I can pair it with my everyday white plates or my gold and white fine china. I especially love the story behind the Parchment Check pattern, which is based on the creases that were in old love letters that had been folded and refolded over many years. I remember that story when I use the Parchment Check pieces, reminding me that it’s love that makes a house a home.

What MacKenzie-Childs item would you give to your best friend, and why?
The Courtly Check Teapot is the perfect gift, whether it’s for the lover of Mackenzie-Childs or for someone who has never been introduced to the brand. It’s such a simple and fun statement piece that brings so much life to a kitchen.

What item would you like to receive from a best friend?
The Sweetbriar Platter. It’s my favorite piece of MacKenzie-Childs because it goes with everything and has the exquisite MacKenzie-Childs detailing that makes it unique and fun. Every friendship is unique and fun—just like that platter!

THE SPOILED HOME

Best friends and Oklahoma residents Sandi Johnson and Shalia Ashcraft write the blog  The Spoiled Home, which they started in 2015 to document their shared love of home decorating. They discovered MacKenzie-Childs together when they came to Aurora in the fall of 2017. Prior to their trip, they didn’t know a lot about the brand, but now they can’t get enough of it, particularly our Courtly Check pattern.

 

Shalia Ashcraft

Your favorite MacKenzie-Childs pattern?
My absolute favorite is Courtly Check. I love the classic black and white. Sweetbriar has a special place in my heart, though, because we were given a sneak peek of the product when we toured the plant. The textured pattern is so pretty.

What MacKenzie-Childs item would you like to receive from a best friend, and why?
I would love to receive the Courtly Check Wine Cooler because I would hope that a bottle of wine to share would come along with it.

What item would you give to your best friend?
The exact same item as above or the Courtly Check Train Case. It is the best and cutest toiletry bag I have ever owned, and every girl needs one.

 

Sandi Johnson

Your favorite MacKenzie-Childs pattern?
I love all the patterns, but my absolute favorites are Courtly Check and Sweetbriar. I love Courtly Check because the black and white pattern goes with my home and decor perfectly. It’s so easy to mix and match other dishes with this pattern, even my old china.

What MacKenzie-Childs item would you give to your best friend, and why?
I would like to give her either a Courtly Check Tea Kettle or the Courtly Check Cookie Jar, filled with fresh-baked cookies. We could then share a cup of hot tea and cookies. I think giving any M-C item as a gift would be very special.

What item would you like to receive from a best friend?
I would love to get a tea kettle. Besides being functional, it’s so pretty, just sitting out on the stove.

 

 

 

Summertime—and the entertaining should be easy, right? It’s time to be outdoors and enjoy, so we asked Corey Field, our visuals manager, for some quick tips on setting a summer table.

  • Add easy pops of color. For outdoor settings, Corey likes our enamelware, because it’s a bright pop of color and so easy to use. A favorite combination of his is a Parchment Check Enamel Charger Plate or a Courtly Check Enamel Charger Plate, topped with a ceramic Taylor dinner plate in either our Aalsmeer pattern (named for the North Holland region that’s  known as the flower capital of the world) or our Bearded Iris pattern (named for the colorful irises on our farm). Other Taylor patterns that he likes for their summery look are King Ferry (a mix of checks, flowers, and scallops) and Summer Frock (florals, stripes, and dots in sherbet colors). All of our Taylor dinnerware, by the way, including the retired patterns, is available in our shop in Aurora, New York. Finally, if you’re on the go and want your gathering to be a moveable feast, go with plastic picnicware that’s pretty and practical. Try our BPA-free melamine pattern, Florabundance, which is covered in a variety of bold flowers, poppy hues, and playful checks.

  • Look to layer. Layer plates and layer linens, combining color and pattern to make cozy combinations that add interest to the table. Even a hint of a layer adds to the mix, so introduce a plate with a scalloped edge, which will have an impact whether it’s the bottom layer or the top layer. Your setting should be about creating what Corey calls “layers of life.”

  • Think outside the box. Fresh flowers are in abundance this time of year, so it’s easy to incorporate them into a tablescape, but why not think outside the box and do something surprising? Corey likes the idea of creating a focal point by filling a large piece of enamel servingware with ice and using it as a container for bottled drinks. In addition to flowers, include fruits and vegetables and use what’s fresh and local in the tablescape. One of Corey’s favorite centerpieces includes green grapes and bunches of blooming green hydrangeas. Says Corey, “Think like a smart chef. Work with what’s in season.” And speaking of the season, add an element of summer to the tablescape. It could be small American flags at each setting to celebrate Memorial Day, Flag Day or the Fourth of July, or the bright, bold pop of red bandanas used as napkins.

Lastly, relax and remember there aren’t any rules other than to savor the season and the friends and family that are making the occasion so special. Corey says your table should be as unique as you are. “Choose what speaks to you, what makes you happy, and what brings a smile to your face.”

 

 

The unofficial start to summer is here, so it’s time for lemonade! Here is the basic lemonade recipe that was featured on our first  Facebook Live video with Rebecca Proctor, our chief brand officer and creative director. If you didn’t catch us live, you can watch the segment, which was filmed in our new studio, The Entertaining Kitchen.

Basic Lemonade
1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice (6 lemons)
3/4 cup superfine sugar (or to taste if you like it sweeter or tarter)
4 cups water
Ice

How-to: Squeeze lemons and strain to remove seeds. Add sugar and water to taste. Serve over ice. You can also blend this in a blender until smooth.

Variations:
Strawberry Lemonade:
Add a pint of cut fresh strawberries to the Basic Lemonade and process in a blender until smooth. Strain to remove strawberry seeds and pulp. Save a couple of the prettiest strawberries for garnishes. You can also blend other fruits with Basic Lemonade, including peaches or cantaloupe.

Herb garnishes: Try adding basil, thyme or mint to the Basic Lemonade. A few thin cucumbers slices go well with these herbs and look pretty in the glass.

Spring is the time to renew and refresh. Inside and outside, we typically want to throw off the heaviness of winter and move to a lighter and brighter season.

That desire explains in part why we decided it was time to redecorate our Farmhouse’s front parlor, which hadn’t been touched in more than 15 years. Gone are the blue damask walls and the heavier furnishings, replaced with pretty pastels that focus on our new Patisserie furniture collection.

The new look is the start of an effort to reinvigorate the interior and exterior of the Farmhouse, which was built around 1870 and is the centerpiece of our 65-acre campus in Aurora, New York.

Rebecca Proctor, our creative director and chief brand officer, wanted to enhance the parlor’s advantages, which include lots of natural light and a great view of nearby Cayuga Lake. She also wanted to highlight the room’s dominant feature, a ceramic fireplace designed by one of our founders in the late 1980s. The fireplace includes many of our historic ceramic patterns, which inspired the new colors in the room.

It took several months to plan the new parlor and about six weeks to execute the plans. Overseeing that part was Felicia Rocker, our Farmhouse coordinator, who worked with Rebecca to create the design.

The first step? Getting yards of blue damask fabric off the walls to ready them for a fresh floral stripe that was hand-painted by Corey Field, our visual manager, with assistance from visual trimmer Aubrey Ellis. After the fabric was gone, the walls were sanded and primed with Simply White by Benjamin Moore. Next, Corey used a three-inch brush to paint alternating stripes of Spun Wool (a subtle gray by Behr) and Puffball (a neutral cream from Pratt & Lambert). Corey also added highlights to the stripes, including some accents of Pearl White (from Modern Masters), which glow when light fills the room. On top of the stripes, Corey painted the crowning touch: Large, lush peonies, sweet forget-me-nots, and trailing vines.

The new furniture in the room includes the Patisserie Wing Chair, the Patisserie Parlor Chair, and the Patisserie Setting Seat. The pieces’ pastel colors and patterns coordinate and play off each other and just might make you think of a plate of petit fours.

Rebecca couldn’t be more pleased with the results. “It’s light, pastel, and feminine,” she says. “The whole thing is really harmonious. There are surprises and delights from the patterns.”

One of the surprises that Rebecca speaks of is a seafoam green velvet sofa that’s between two Truffle Top Tables. It’s a prototype from an upcoming collection of furniture, Bespoke, which should be available in fall 2019. The choice to include the sofa is in keeping with the mission of the Farmhouse, which is to serve as a design laboratory of sorts and display pieces that are current, retired or one of a kind.

Says Rebecca, “I like to say the Farmhouse is always a work in progress.”

We invite you to tour the Farmhouse and see the new parlor. Free tours are available year-round. Individual reservations are recommended but not required; reservations are required for groups of 15 or more (call 315-364-7123, ext. 1282). Labor Day through June 5, tours are given daily at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2 p.m.; June 6 through Labor Day, tours are given daily at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., and 4 p.m. The tours are about 40 minutes long. For more information, go to our website.

 

Where to buy

Patisserie furniture collection

Simply White by Benjamin Moore

Spun Wool by Behr

Puffball (a neutral cream from Pratt & Lambert)

Pearl White by Modern Masters

 

 

 

 

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