Fall has come!

From the desk of: Carrie Dirats

Every year it happens.  Some time during the first three weeks in October comes the evening of the first frost.  I know it’s coming and every year I procrastinate, dreading the final nail in summer’s coffin.  As though, if I don’t prepare the garden, it just won’t happen THIS year.  So October 16th, 6pm, as dusk falls, finds me doing my annual panic dance…”quick, grab a piece of garden fleece off of the asparagus!…I need a shovel and large pots!  How many?!  ALL of them!”  I holler through the gloaming to a rather harassed looking hubby.  That last early October blast of summer caused the pepper plants to flourish, re-blossom, and finally (finally!) start producing large, lovely fruits.  Suddenly, instead of the original plan of picking them out and saying goodbye, I couldn’t stand the thought of letting the encroaching winter get them and began a frantic rescue effort…as in, “how many of these suckers can we fit on the kitchen windowsill without the neighbors thinking we’re up to no good?”

I just couldn’t let those peppers-to-be in the center freeze!

And then of course there is Charlotte Bronte asking “so where have all the free cucumber treats gone?” and digging up the asparagus bed with apparent frustration…no help whatsoever.

Charlotte Bronte inquiring about why there are no more veggie treats.

That said, there is quite a lot of gardening to be done even after colder weather sets in.  Cabbage, swiss chard, spinach, and beets can handle moderate frosts.  Even lettuce and parsley can survive light ones.  Brussels sprouts thrive in cold weather.

Hardy chard, lettuce, and scallions in the fall garden.

One good thing about fall:  It’s garlic planting time!

Calendula flowers add bright spots of color until the first hard freeze

A sheltered location, a layer of garden fleece, and eventually a layer of heavy greenhouse plastic can keep a New England garden productive into December and, so I’m told, beyond.  Fresh local produce is so much more flavorful and nutrient-packed than those anemic, sad creatures one finds on the grocery store shelf.


Lunch….home grown lettuce, bell pepper, bok choi, and herbs with fresh lemon dijon vinaigrette.

If you’ve never gardened before and would like to give it a go, you don’t need a lot of space.  You can start small with a nice looking ceramic dish filled with some salad greens and herbs.  It’s an excellent use for that lovely spare soup tureen or casserole you never use…..and it makes a great kitchen table centerpiece.

Autumn Crocuses aren’t just pretty…the orange stigmas and style in the center are SAFFRON 🙂

So now, having survived the first round of the great annual fall garden panic, I’m focused on growing lovely fresh veggies through the winter and keeping a little bit of summer alive in my heart…wish me luck!  #gardengoals #irejectpumpkinspiceseason.

The author….in de hammock and in denial

Crazy busy… and how to stay focused

From the desk of Phoebe Allen

Here at AE we are currently in the midst of our busy season.  I personally would much rather be busy than bored!  Here you will find some tips and tricks as to how I stay on top of my game when we are moving 100 miles per hour.

Stay hydrated – I make sure to always have a full tumbler of water at my desk and a large bottle of water in my car for on the go.  Definitely helps me stay focused.

Get one with a straw! Tervis

Make sure you sleep! – I know there are many people who can survive off of 5 or 6 hours of sleep… I am not one of those people.  I need at least 8 hours to function and preferably 9 hours to feel really on top of my game.

Having said that – getting that much sleep does not always happen… When I am coming up on a busy week, I try and get as much sleep as possible the weekend before so I feel great that Monday, and don’t start my week tired.

Don’t stray too far from your normal schedule – I try and work out every day, with Sundays being a day of rest! Waking up at 6am every morning gets a little tiring, but if I am busy that night I know I have to get my work out in that morning.  And if I don’t, I won’t feel like myself.  So that is really what pushes be out of bed before the sunrise.

Music – Music is something that really drives me.  If I am sleepy driving to work, I always put a song on that I can sign to.  If my eyes are closing at my desk, I just turn my music a little louder and it seriously helps.  Depending on your playlist, music can really help you get in a good working mind set.

Check out a ‘brain food’ Spotify playlist here:

Don’t forget to eat! I always have a protein bar in my back pack… at all times!

These are my favorite:

Quest Bar’s

Ask for help.  Never be afraid to ask for a helping hand.  Two minds are better than one.

Take a little break – if you are feeling overwhelmed, take a step back and just try and clear your mind.  You would rather put out good work, than forget to do something important because you were rushing.  Take a walk, have a snack break, or even go sit outside for 5 minutes and breathe in the fresh air.

Lastly keep your head up, you will have a rest day soon and you will feel so accomplished.

If I figure out any more tips I will let you know!


From the desk of Mindy Home:

Clients hire us because we help them think beyond the scope of their imagination, as well as work within their budget. What is our secret to creating innovative looks, yet staying in budget? We use what is necessary in the room to make their event unique. Here are a few examples of ways that you can use the “must haves” to your advantage.

Chairs – all events need them – why not upgrade to something that helps to elevate your overall design scheme? Case in point – we have a tropical-themed event coming up in October, so we opted for transparent blue chairs from AFR – instant island vibe!

Forget the classic ballroom – we recently used these slatted chairs from Be Our Guest for a rustic field wedding.  Want something modern? Check out the avocado Jetson chair from PEAK…add some color to the room quickly and easily… and your design is halfway there!

Staging – if your event has a speaking program, most likely you’ll need a stage. Questions to ask yourself: What’s happening on that stage? Maybe you can wrap your standard black stage in crisp white vinyl to make it more modern. Is it a panel discussion? Maybe rather than stiff chairs, mix it up and put a couch, soft seating, and interesting end tables. What will guests see when they look at the stage? We’ve done everything from big screens to LED panels to cool textured fabric behind the stage, but also consider adding a little bit to your flower budget and creating a backdrop. A shot of your guest speakers with green leaves behind them is a refreshing point of view.

Table Numbers – why do they have to be plain or borrowed from the caterer? We’ve created printed numbers to match the invitations and the linens, but some clients want something they can re-use. In that case, we’ve created vinyl numbers on small mirrors and votive holders. We’ve painted pieces of wood for a more rustic feel. We’ve even done three-dimensional numbers that sit upright on the table. A print vendor (or even some paint!), a pretty font and a fun container – voila, visual interest!

Floor Plan – why use just round tables, mix it up! Create your logo with rectangular tables:

Bring the outdoors indoors by setting large trees between tables, or build the stage in the center. Create floor plans that mix up the tables, for an environment that is unique and catches your eye!

Thinking of these smaller details in advance can help push your design beyond what your guests (or even you!) may expect, and first impressions mean a lot! Take a look around, you’ll be surprised at what you notice when you really look.

Check this off my bucket list

From the desk of Christine Altieri:

SOUTH AFRICA: Go on Safari, see the Big 5, Visit Cape Town, Drink South African Wine CHECK!

South Africa…I have been dreaming about going for years, and finally I took the time to make it happen. It is important to take these opportunities and check them off your bucket list.

My love of traveling is based on the adventure of being in different surroundings with different cultures, languages and idealisms.  It is all about learning for me….learning the culture, learning the geography, the topography, the language, and the list goes on.

The first stop on our trip; Kruger National Park- Safari and the Big 5. What is the Big 5 – Lion, Leopards, Rhinos, Cape Buffalo and Elephant. Kruger is the largest game reserve in South Africa. Kruger National Park is basically a synonym for the word “safari.

Six days on Safari, which was 10 – 13 hour days…we were off to Hermanus –a small town on the southern coast of the Western Cape province of South Africa. It is famous for southern right whale watching however It was winter, so the beaches were cold and empty, but with a warm blanket and a glass of wine, the peacefulness was perfect after our safaris.

Now that we are well rested, picked up and off  to Stellenbosh – Wine Country!

Stellenbosch is a town in South Africa’s Western Cape province. It’s surrounded by the vineyards of the Cape Winelands and the mountainous nature reserves of Jonkershoek and Simonsberg. The town’s oak-shaded streets are lined with cafes, boutiques and art galleries. Cape Dutch architecture gives a sense of South Africa’s Dutch colonial history, as do the Village Museum’s period houses and gardens.  True small town charm, with lovely reds, whites and rose!

Last stop Cape Town –  Cape Town is a city on South Africa’s southwest coast, on a peninsula beneath the imposing Table Mountain. Slowly rotating cable cars climb to the mountain’s flat top, from which there are sweeping views of the city, the busy harbor and boats heading for Robben Island, the notorious prison that once held Nelson Mandela, which is now a living museum. So much history and beauty.

What is next on my bucket list…..I am looking it over…torn between New Zealand – Australia or perhaps something closer to home, the Grand Canyon, I have never been.  Will shall see!