“For my deck, all I’ve done is hang up LED string lights as cafe lights. They’ll burn out in about 15 years, and use just pennies to stay lit. I actually never unplug the lights because they’re so super-efficient.”
On Staying Cool (and Warm)
“My home’s new climate-control system is called Acadia, from Hallowell International. It’s one of the most energy-efficient heat-pump systems ever made for heating and cooling your home, and can shave about 70 percent off homeowners’ heating and cooling bills. I love the smart thermostat that comes with it, that ‘learns’ the way I like my house and sets the system to work as efficiently as possible.” Hallowell International, 877-322-2342, gotohallowell.com.
“In the summer, I spend every Sunday I possibly can at the Golden Nugget in Lambertville. I like to rummage, seek and find bargains, so I don’t even go early in the day. Instead, I’ll have breakfast and show up around 11 a.m., just for an hour or so when the diehard vendors start to pack up. That’s when you get the best deals, like this wooden pitcher I got for $3.” Golden Nugget, 1850 River Road, Lambertville, 609-397-0811, gnmarket.com.
“I am obsessed with the Boat House in Lambertville, where I’ll take friends on a Sunday for Bloody Marys and sit by the fireplace. I feel like I’m in a Ralph Lauren catalog when I’m there, but without the stuffiness. But mostly, I like to cook at home for friends, and make homey snacks like fresh kettle popcorn and roasted seasonal veggies.” The Boat House, 8 ½ Coryell Street, Lambertville, 609-397-2244.
On Vintage Shopping
“I like Gristie’s in Kintnersville, where the stock is always changing and you can always find one or two unusual vintage or antique pieces at reasonable prices. All the way out near Kutztown, I go to lots of stores, including the antiques market in Fleetwood, which has tons of amazing finds merchandised in really unusual ways, like at Anthropologie. And twice a year, I definitely hit the Renningers Extravaganzas in Kutztown to score finds. I once bought a stack of framed early 20th-century botanicals [pictured] for just $5 apiece. I’ve been told they’re worth hundreds of dollars each.” Gristie’s Antiques, 9730 Easton Road, Kintnersville, 610-847-1966; Antique Complex of Fleetwood, Route 222, Fleetwood, 610-944-0707; Renningers Extravaganza, April 23rd-25th, 740 Noble Street, Kutztown, 610-683-6848, renningers.com.
“My new house has a 40-year-old bamboo grove growing in the front yard. Wholearth’s bamboo body scrub comes from my fascination with the fast-growing grass. It’s my favorite because it feels so soft to the touch, but foams up when you add water. It makes your skin just feel so great.” Wholearth by Danny Seo, available at Anthropologie stores, anthropologie.com.
“I am obsessed with buying fresh eggs from my neighbors. Their egg stand is based on the honor system: You put $3.50 in the box and take a dozen. You can see the chickens walking around the yard. The theory is chickens will eat only what they find tasty when they’re free-range — and therefore the eggs taste amazing. Once you’ve had fresh eggs, you’ll never go back.”
“I’ve been buying large glass water jugs for a while now — I just love their blue tint. I group them together at home as a collection.”
On Good Food
“Jamie Hollander in New Hope, every time. I have this deal with Jamie: no utensils, no disposables, only reusable bowls and trays. I bring everything back to him to be reused. He does a great job catering photo shoots and parties; the food is always perfect, and so reasonably priced.” Jamie Hollander Gourmet Foods, 415 York Road, New Hope, 215-862-9809, jhollandergourmet.com.
“In Stockton, New Jersey, there’s a fabulous wine store called Phillips’ Fine Wines. The place is deceptive: It looks small, but there are so many rooms dedicated to all types of hard-to-find wines. They give discounts when you buy a case — even mixed cases — and when you ask for a recommendation, they always seem to make inexpensive picks that end up being incredible.” Phillips’ Fine Wines, 17 Bridge Street, Stockton, 609-397-0587, phillipsfinewines.com.
“Artefact near my house is all architectural salvage, antiques, and strange pieces you can’t find anywhere else. I bought a giant carved eagle there, and now it’s perched in my craft room. Every house needs something peculiar.” Artefact Architectural Antiques, 790 Edison Furlong Road, Furlong, 215-794-8790, artefactantiques.com.
On the Great Outdoors
“When I bought the new house, what struck me most was the location. There’s a park with a bridge over a creek just half a mile down the road. It’s fun to go there in the summer and walk through the creek, picking up rocks and seeing fish swim about. In fall, it’s just stunning with the leaves changing color. And winter, all you see are snow-dusted trees and hillsides everywhere, with birds foraging for food. I also love Ringing Rocks Park, because when you go there, you can literally hit the rocks with a hammer to hear them ring!” Ringing Rocks Park, Ringing Rocks Road, Upper Black Eddy, buckscounty.org.
“I’m a believer in box stores and mom-and-pops. I’ll go to Lowe’s to get bulky items, like organic potting soil or terra-cotta pots. But then I’ll go to the hardware store in Frenchtown — which is tiny — where they somehow have everything and anything I need. There’s even a board with business cards posted of local painters, handymen, plumbers, etc., and they’ll tell you who they think is the most reliable and worthy. It has a small-town feel, but it still gets the job done!” Frenchtown Home & Hardware, 11 Kingwood Avenue, Frenchtown, 908-996-2283.
On Garden Shopping
“Terrain at Styer’s is really interesting; I’ve blogged about them. They have a pretty environment to spend a Saturday afternoon in, shopping, eating and browsing. It’s all merchandised so beautifully. I went there recently and went nuts over their terrariums.” Terrain at Styer’s, 914 Baltimore Pike, Glen Mills, 610-459-2400, terrainathome.com.
“My local contractor is the best: Jeff Myers. When everyone says it can’t be done, he figures it out. I’ll point to a wall and say, ‘I want those giant fabric-covered Homasote boards there,’ and I’ll give him the key to my house. When I get back, it’s done and perfect. Jeff did the renovations on my house — and he did them on time and on budget.” J.B. Myers, 1010 Lower State Road, Chalfont, 215-343-8860, jbmyersinc.com.
“My new mattress line, Simmons Natural Care by Danny Seo, actually has a ‘New Hope’ model, after New Hope, PA. There’s something very positive about the words ‘new’ and ‘hope.’ I think this mattress gives ‘new hope’ that we can finally have a green mattress that’s affordable, comfortable, and made by a respected manufacturer.” Simmons Natural Care line available through dealers, simmons.com.
“People always complain that going green costs too much, and I have to give props to JC Penney in King of Prussia. I work with JC Penney as their ‘green living partner,’ and it’s a place where you can find eco-friendly, stylish products that aren’t overpriced — great bedding, blankets, towels, rugs and tableware under our ‘Simply Green’ banner.” Simply Green, available at JC Penney, jcpenney.com.
“I’ve painted the whole house using Aura exterior paint from Benjamin Moore, a one-coat, very low VOC paint that is designed to really last. Low VOC paints are important because they help create a healthier indoor air environment. In the past, high VOC paints — which were the norm — meant you had to ventilate your house when you painted. Since I painted the house black, it was important to get a paint that really covers well.” Aura paints, available at Benjamin Moore stores and dealers, benjaminmoore.com.
“I love the twice-a-year Discovery Auction at Rago Arts in Lambertville. [The next auction will take place in August.] It’s a mix of everything from furniture to pottery to artwork to rugs to jewelry. There’s no minimum, and I’ve seen things go for $1. I got this whole lot of antlers [below] for about $200.” Rago Arts and Auction Center, 333 North Main Street, Lambertville, 866-724-6278, ragoartscom.
“I get ideas from everywhere, but seriously, my favorite place to go is the local Goodwill store in Warminster. There’s nothing special about this particular location, but it does provide me inspiration on what everybody is ditching and donating. I found a giant box of old cassette tapes — who doesn’t have them lying around? — and bought them for $20. I loved how they were all clear and uniform in shape. I’ve been using them for a lot of things, including gluing them together to make modern-looking boxes, and to make these funky little coffee-can robots.” Goodwill, 1487 North Street Road, Warminster, 215-441-9185, goodwill.org.