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
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
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
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
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
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
Sustainable light bulbs bring up a lot of questions: which one to use, how sustainable are they, and what will the cost savings be? It could leave your head spinning, but worry no more. The River Reporter is here to shed some light on the world of light bulbs. The two types of sustainable light bulbs are LEDs and CFLs. Below, we break down the benefits of making the switch from incandescent bulbs (the “normal” type of bulb we all grew up with) to one of these two options.
LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) Read more
A conversation with interior designer Sharon Carroll by Jane Bollinger
Sharon Carroll is an interior designer.
She helps create personal living spaces that reflect the kinds of lives her clients want to enjoy in their homes. The job involves more than constructing functional spaces that meet the homeowners’ needs; Carroll also wants her clients fulfill their personal desires for finding fun activities and pleasurable pastimes to enjoy in their homes. Fun, enjoyment and pleasure are important words in Carroll’s working vocabulary. Read more
Like any new parents, we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. Standing in the post office, the incessant, frantic peeping coming from the box, which seemed way too small to contain 50 baby chicks, suggested that our free-wheeling, home-after-dusk days were over. Like many beginning “neo-homesteaders” these days, we began our foray into livestock husbandry with that seemingly fool-proof barnyard staple—Gallus gallus domesticus—the chicken. Read more
At this point in the growing season just about everyone who grows a garden or tends a flower bed has a common nemesis: the common garden weed. Of course, this common weed is not just one measly pest. Instead, it is a compilation of many different plants that all want the same thing: to invade our space. There is dandelion, sow thistle, carpet weed and crabgrass to name a few of the more intrusive varieties. While we all wish that our gardens were tame and beautiful from all angles, we must realize that this is the way it works. Growing a garden means you will be growing weeds as well. Read more
Building a rain barrel is a worthwhile do-it-yourself project. Read more
Rebekah Creshkoff dreamed of a straw-bale house. A dedicated birder, she had spent her adult life in New York City riding her bike to work every day across Central Park. There, a downy woodpecker had gotten to know her well enough to eat out of her hand.
In 2010, she and her husband Lenny Friedland rented a house for the summer in Narrowsburg. They liked it so much, the next year they found themselves dreaming about building a home. Another rental on River Road in Callicoon turned those dreams into plans. Read more
There’s a first for everything, and recently I encountered one of my firsts—the first apartment (as an “adult”). I moved from my family’s home to a two- bedroom apartment on Main Street in Narrowsburg with my boyfriend. We were excited to have our own space and be able to fill it with whatever we wanted. And thus the decorating process began. Read more
“Have you noticed any ghosts?” seems like a fair question to put to the residents of a house that has spent 200 years providing shelter and comfort to a veritable pageant of generations. Eight years ago, John and Dawn Harvey fell in love with and purchased the historical Wilmot House, also known as the Solomon Moore House, on Old Wayne Street in Bethany, PA. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to its fame as the birthplace of David Wilmot, author of the Wilmot Proviso, a document that is widely credited with being the forerunner of the 13th Amendment. Read more
The Tiny House Movement, sometimes called the Small House Movement, started out as much a social movement as an architectural one, and now it’s gaining even more attention for its low-cost housing options during tough economic times.
Do the math. You can buy a ready-made tiny house—I found estimates online ranging from $40,000 to $60,000—or you can purchase plans on the Internet to build your very own tiny house, usually for under $25,000. If you can forage building materials, you could do it for even less. Read more
An interview with “J” by ISABEL BRAVERMAN
“Imagine no possessions; I wonder if you can”
A house that is 10 by 12 feet sits on a piece of land near the Delaware River. Could you do it? Could you live in such a tiny house? That is what J is doing, living in a small dwelling that she renovated and moved on to her land. With the house she moved all her belongings, and soon realized that in order to live in a tiny house you have to downsize. Read more
Sean Zigmund and Cheyenne Miller are already deep into the 2013 spring and summer growing season, rising at dawn and working till dusk and still never quite finishing all that needs to be done. But offered the choice, they wouldn’t want to have any other job.
On a beautiful spring Sunday, I visited their farm, Root n’ Roost Farm (www.rootnroost.com) in White Sulphur Springs, NY. While Sean was busy working, Cheyenne kindly gave me a tour of their two-and-a-half-acre farm, complete with chickens, pigs, veggies and more. Read more
An original structure from an 1840s barn was left standing on River Road in Milanville, PA. Perched on a hill between dense woods and the Delaware River, the barn is rife with history as it was part of an old farm and a stop on the Underground Railroad. The building was on the brink of collapsing. If it fell, it would bring down its beauty and historical relevance with it. It was the perfect project for Joe Levine, an architect from New York City. Read more
It was a cold and blustery March morning, and as I made fresh tire tracks through the light dusting of snow, I saw a mink dart across the driveway and under a rock along one of the three ponds at the Augusta Acres homestead in Welcome Lake, PA. It was too cold for the sap to be running yet, but the plastic tubes and hundreds of buckets lining the way to the house were ready for the sap to flow as soon as the temperature rose above freezing. In the distance, a small flock of ducks waddled along the bank of the frozen pond as if also wondering whether the ice would melt soon. Read more