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September 20, 2014
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Married couples Mary and Jack Dinan and Lauren and Roy Schlagenhaft decided to open their business three years ago because they saw a need for it in the area. The business is Green Outlet in Honesdale, PA—a store that sells new and used furniture, appliances, décor and more.

Amid the many chairs and tables in rows around me, and light fixtures hanging above my head, I recently sat down with the two women of the four-person team to talk about their store. It felt like a wonderland of home furnishings, an interior decorator’s dream.

Do-it-yourself solar

Do-it-yourself (DIY) solar systems are starting to pop up across northeast Pennsylvania, after a series of free public forums hosted by the non-profit group Sustainable Energy Education and Development Support (SEEDS). SEEDS held a series of three workshops in April 2013, plus another session over two evenings in June this year. More than 40 people attended each session to learn how to self-install a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on their homes.  Read more

The joy of seed saving

Gardeners and small farmers are the guardians of disappearing seed varieties. We have the ultimate freedom to decide what to grow in our gardens. Whereas commercial growers need to give consideration to yield, mechanical harvest and transport, we can select our varieties based on excellent taste, tenderness and eye appeal.  Read more

Joncy Bennett’s wabi-sabi life; A work in progress

Joncy Bennett’s home/studio is a study in wabi-sabi, the Japanese aesthetic devoted to the acceptance of imperfection and impermanence. It is hard to ignore the contrast between the skilled perfection of his handmade furniture and the modest aesthetic of his home in Callicoon Center, NY.  Read more

Build a root cellar; For storing root vegetables long into fall and winter

Up from Michael Denman’s self-dug pond, on his land in Grahamsville, NY, a great blue heron swoops low in an attempt to pilfer his brown trout before it recognizes the humans below, abandons its landing and disappears into the woods. We follow a trail around the water, trod many times by his daughter and her horse, Oreo, over to the chicken coop and up stone steps to a gate and arbor overflowing with a massive trumpet vine that leads into the Denmans’ terraced gardens.  Read more

Simple but elegant; The log cabin all grown up

Building a new house is always an adventure, and for Paul Plumadore and Jim Tindell of Milanville, PA building their home on River Road has been the adventure of a lifetime.  Read more

At home in a country inn: Restoring past glories

Travel down any number of country roads throughout the Catskills and one can discover architecture that exemplifies what life was like during the heyday, when the region was known as a playground for those seeking respite from the workaday world of city life. Boarding houses, hotels, bungalows and inns were scattered across Sullivan County, and among them, The Old North Branch Inn stood proud.  Read more

From flea market find to art gallery; Dee Rivera thrives on the art of repurposing

Finding inspiration in items other people get rid of, mixed media artist Dee Rivera creates unique objects d’art that might best be described as three-dimensional collages. Her work is all about putting together parts of found trinkets and everyday items—pieces of jewelry, a handle from an old drawer, a candle holder, an old cheese board, vintage buttons, broken watches, wooden and tin boxes. “I’m always looking for things that have an interesting texture, or shape, or color,” she said of her flea market excursions.  Read more

Creating inspiring spaces in our homes

Having a place to call home is meaningful to most of us. As a poetic ideal, it’s a welcoming environment where we can slip into baggy pants at the end of the day and leave the mad world behind to “just be” without pretense. It’s a place where we can rest, recover and recharge ourselves, as well as our smart phones.  Read more

The green, green grass of home; Sowing, growing & eating asparagus

After enduring a punishing winter, there is nothing more welcome than the first signs of spring poking up from the impossibly barren earth. Out in nature, knotweed, ferns and nettles are among the first things to appear. In my garden, it is the incipient tender green of sorrel, rhubarb and angelica. This year, I hope to be adding asparagus to that list, because we planted a patch last spring.  Read more

Diggin’ the seeds

In some years, the weather is warm enough in March that the fence around my garden can be inspected and repaired in anticipation of the upcoming gardening season. But this year, with snow still piled high, the garden gate has not even been opened yet, so garden activities thus far have been limited to starting seeds indoors.

The biggest challenge with starting seeds indoors is getting enough light to the seedlings once they emerge. A bright sunny window will sometimes do, but most windows aren’t sunny enough for a long enough time, and space in front of them is limited.  Read more

Reuse, recycle, restore it!

“Is it Monday yet? Can I please go back to work?” asks Judy Shaffer, emphasizing the word “please.”

For the past 18 years, Judy has worked side by side with Mark and Andee Weller, owners of Sterling Upholstery Co., Inc.(www.sterlingupholsteryco.com/), located at 50 Neville Rd. in Moscow, PA.  Read more

Spring clean your closet

Spring is the season of renewal and birth. It is a time when we get a fresh start in our lives, and the ever-popular phrase “spring cleaning” enters our vernacular (and hopefully our activity). If you’re anything like me, you often throw things into your closet without really paying any attention; it’s the ideal throw-stuff-in-and-shut-the-door kind of space. You might find yourself looking at your closet and shaking your head or averting your eyes from the horror. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, it’s time to tackle that project and spring clean your closet.  Read more

Love and lilacs; Living history revealed in the Skinner House

When Gina and Tom Kaufmann share how they met, they evoke a scene from the movie “When Harry Met Sally.” They grew up 20 minutes apart on Long Island, vacationed 20 minutes apart in the Upper Delaware River Valley region and even closer on Long Island, but only first met when they went horseback riding together in their mid-to-late teens. Then, there’s the house. They were dating about a year when they first entered the Skinner House, visiting family friends. Gina recalls thinking it would be romantic to live there one day.  Read more

Alpaca: The new-age Golden Fleece

The Catskills and Upper Delaware River Valley are known for many things: hiking, river rafting, apple picking and the beauty and serenity that a visit to our region provides. Each season has something different to offer to visitors and residents alike, but since the 1970s, a warm and fuzzy attraction has caught on—alpacas. The gentle creatures have been domesticated for thousands of years and the Moche people of northern Peru often used alpaca images in their art. Too small to be used as pack animals, they have been bred exclusively for their fiber and meat, but it’s their fleece that has made the alpaca highly prized throughout the world. Today, alpaca can be found all across the United States, including right here at home, where their incredibly soft hair is made into scarves, hats, gloves and socks, along with stylish high-end garments that are sought after by folks from all walks of life.  Read more

Ten steps to a safe heating fire

Madonna Badger wasn’t awakened by her three daughters’ squeals of delight on Christmas morning 2011. Instead she awoke to smoke in a dark and silent house. Quickly the house was engulfed in flames, and all efforts to save her family failed. Ashes from the fire that had warmed her Connecticut house on Christmas Eve had been carelessly disposed of, and in the night, the embers caught fire. In addition, no smoke alarm sounded a warning. The resulting inferno robbed Badger of her children, her parents and her home.  Read more

Top tips for saving energy

Most, if not all, homeowners would fix a window broken by a wayward softball. What many people don’t know, though, is that there are often small air breaches in many different places of the home that, if combined, could easily be the size of a softball or bigger. As a result, much energy, and many dollars, can be lost.  Read more

The Great Pumpkin

Nature’s timing is flawless. As if on cue, the winter squash and pumpkins appear just as the onslaught of zucchini starts to ebb. And they’re here to stay, their stout curves and painterly colors a pleasure to behold throughout the winter. Every year I stock up on the many varieties grown by Alice and Neil Fitzgerald of River Brook Farm in Cochecton, NY including international heirlooms like the brilliant orange Hubbard, the voluptuous Musque de Provence and the charmingly bumpy Marina di Chioggia. These all have a dense, creamy flesh that is equally delicious roasted, fried (pumpkin tempura!) or stewed.  Read more

Honoring traditions, fabricating new; Meet the divas of quilting

Some do it for the fellowship and conversation. Some do it for the satisfaction of having something to show for all their hard work. Some do it for the art. But they all have the same goal: to make a quilt.  Read more

Something old, something new; A country house lovingly restored

There’s a reason that people are obsessed with home makeover shows. There’s nothing like a good transformation story and the big reveal. We constantly tune in to “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and “Trading Spaces” to watch cringe-worthy spaces become homes you want to live in, all led by the skilled and snarky renovators who have become household names (Ty Pennignton, Genevieve Gorder). Not to be outdone by celebrity makeover artists, Ramona Jan of Country Home Restoration (Abrahamsville, PA) has recently completed a project to restore an 1800s farmhouse in Hortonville, NY, owned by Westchester resident Cheryl Greenberg.  Read more

Cooking real food from scratch; Avoiding ‘edible food-like substances’

I love farmers’ markets. Not a farmer myself, I nevertheless belong to an organization of farmers who practice sustainable agriculture. I support the blossoming food movement to Buy Fresh Buy Local and the local economies movement to shop locally because I believe that our global economic model is unsustainable based as it is on the unsustainable use of fossil fuel energy. I shop at farmers’ markets because they are a source of real food, which is pretty much the only food I want to eat anymore. For me, real food, grown locally is a starting point for sustainable living.  Read more