Age of Aquariums

For centuries, farmers have cultivated plants with aquaponic systems. Since at least 11,000 B.C.E, in China, rice has been grown in paddies. When the fields are flooded, fish come in. Ducks also arrive to enjoy the wetlands. The fish and fowl waste feeds the plants, and the plants keep the water clean. When the paddies are drained for harvest, the fish are easy prey, and they too are harvested.

In South America, the second-century Aztecs learned to build chinampas: a series of rectangular raised beds created in Lake Texcoco’s shallow waters. A system of canals between the beds irrigated the plants and provided access by canoe to care for them. Plants flourished in the nutrient-rich lake water, making it possible to harvest at least seven full crops a year.

Now this time-honored symbiotic growing technique is making the leap from commercial agriculture to homeowners. Instead of vast flooded fields or acres of floating gardens, manufacturers are making decorative fish tank systems that combine the soothing pleasures of an aquarium with indoor herb, flower, and vegetable gardens.

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Comfort Zone

In the case of this particular high-rise building, Hullinger, president of Portland-based Garrison Hullinger Interior Design, describes it as a bit of a mix with classic features like a brick facade that evokes a feel of Old-World living, but in a contemporary way. Inside the one-bedroom condo, expansive windows accentuate the city sights from the fifth floor of the fifteen-story structure.

This happens to be one of the few one-bedrooms in the building. Because there isn’t a door separating the bedroom from the living room, this apartment also features a fairly open floor plan. A demising wall (partition) is all that divides the two areas in the modest apartment that measures approximately 825 square feet.

When working with a smaller footprint, the designer makes storage a top priority in an effort to reduce clutter for his client, as seen in the well-edited living room. “She wanted it to be organized and to have a place for everything,” he says. “It’s a tight room, so we were trying to make it feel extra open. We also try and use furniture that has no solid base when located in the center of the room, like the coffee table in the living room. This helps to create a more open look.”

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Timeless in Toronto

A Historic Townhome Gets a Modern Face-Lift

It was a blank canvas for designers Ashley Tracey and Laura McLellan. The design principals behind the wildly successful firm The Design Co., which specializes in blending old with new, were tasked with designing the interiors of a three-story, circa-1910 historic townhome. Located in the Casa Loma neighborhood of Toronto, the property did not have a buyer but the duo had one in mind when they imagined just how everything would come together. “The buyers would be Toronto professionals who were rather design savvy, well-traveled, and looking to downsize to a luxury town house such as this,” explains Tracey.

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Gather round

Did you ever wonder what might have been served at a chuck wagon dinner? Just like dinner around a campfire, food at the chuck wagon was often simple but loaded with flavor and texture. Chuck wagon cooks prided themselves in using creative ingredients for their recipes and treating their diners to a satisfying meal. I’ve taken a few traditional recipes and recreated them with some modern twists while keeping the essence of the chuck wagon meal true to its rich flavors and simple ingredients.

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By the Sea

The owners of this stately seaside retreat didn’t have to look far for inspiration. To begin, their interior designer, Eileen Marcuvitz of Plum Interiors with locations in Newport, Rhode Island and Naples, Florida, tries to translate her clients’ thoughts into a design that embodies the feeling and flow they desire. In this case, she says, “They wanted the living room to reflect back the colors they see out their window of the sky and blue green of the ocean.”

Another goal for the more formal space in the 8,500-square-foot residence was for it to feel elegant, serene, and comfortable, says the designer who describes the interiors as refined yet comfortable, elegant yet functional, and clean yet richly detailed. “Featuring a serene palette and sculptural shapes, it’s classic with a modern sensibility,” explains Marcuvitz.

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Old, New, Borrowed, Blue

“When people have been together for a while, they have their own collections [and] special things gathered over time or inherited from family,” says Linda Weisberg, owner of Newton, Massachusetts-based LW Interiors. This was true of the couple who sought Weisberg’s help to update the family room in their ninety-year-old, Tudor-style home, also in Newton.

Weisberg’s design process helps homeowners critically review their possessions and discover what matters most to them. “As a designer, you help families make decisions so that everyone feels they are getting what they want and what they like,” she says. “After I get a sense of what will stay, I try to bring a fresh look by thinking through how things can be reused or repurposed.” For this project, Weisberg transformed old pieces, purchased new pieces, borrowed items from other rooms, and drew inspiration from the blue color in a rug that the homeowners loved.

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zest and zeal

A Get-Started Guide to Cultivating Citrus Fruit

With their fragrant flowers, rich green foliage, and delicious fruit, citrus are among the most rewarding trees to grow. Those living in USDA Hardiness zones 9–11, where temperatures don’t normally drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, can grow citrus outdoors year round. In colder regions, the trees should be grown in containers and brought inside for winter. But the warm temperatures of the summer months help sweet citrus thrive. Consider the following tips when embarking on your fruitful venture.


Citrus are easy to grow, untroubled by most pests in a home garden environment, and adaptable to a wide range of soil quality. If the soil is heavy clay, water the plants slowly and deeply with drip irrigation laid around the edge of the leaf canopy so the moisture is absorbed into the soil. In loose, sandy soil, water more frequently. Citrus prefer deep, infrequent watering. Ideally the moisture should penetrate down 36 inches. Between watering, the soil should become almost completely dry, as citrus will languish if over-watered.

The key nutrients for healthy citrus are nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, calcium, sulfur, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, boron, and molybdenum. Most California and Arizona soils have all the necessary nutrients, except nitrogen. Have your soil tested and analyzed for citrus requirements, then apply organic fertilizers as needed in spring and summer.

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Welcome Back

It’s finally here. The sweet summer season has arrived, and with it, your plans to spend days, weeks, or months at your vacation home. But if you only enjoy your getaway during the summer, there are a few things you’ll need to take care of before getting settled.

To make opening and closing your summer home a breeze, keep it maintained during the winter months. If you don’t live close to your vacation home, have a friend check on the house from time to time or hire a property management company to address any off-season issues. If the temperature drops below the freezing level, pipes could burst; and there’s always the chance that an appliance could leak or the electricity could go out and reset timed systems.

Assuming there aren’t any major maintenance issues when you first arrive at your summer home, setup shouldn’t be too complicated. Turn on any circuit breakers that were off and plug in appliances. Check and replace or refill smoke detector batteries, light bulbs, and any propane tanks if needed. (If your home is heated by propane, keep track of the level throughout the year and, if possible, have the tank refilled before you arrive for the summer.)

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peak performance

For Nick Bratton, his love of mountain climbing began early. As a young Boy Scout, it was a natural progression for him to get into mountaineering at a young age. That, coupled with a desire to overcome his fear of heights, ignited a passion for mountain climbing in the author of Guided Currents: Notes from the Banks of the Tugela. “My first time rock climbing was in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and I was instantly hooked,” he says. “Nothing I had ever done before compared to the sense of accomplishment and appreciation of the wilderness I got from climbing.”

Much goes into planning and prepping for a climb. “It’s a physically demanding sport that requires a diverse set of skills, good judgment and decision-making, and comfort with adversity,” explains Bratton. “But mountain climbing is also a fantastic social activity because you get to spend quality time in amazing places with friends.” So how do you get started? Follow these tips before setting out on your own adventure.

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