Bake your day

All it takes is the scent of something baking in the oven for my family to come running. It doesn’t matter if it is sweet treats like peanut butter cookies or savory morsels like beet tarts; they know it’s going to be the perfect shade of golden brown when it emerges from the oven. Sometimes baking evokes a sentimental memory. My recipe for carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting always makes me think of my mother, who would make these desserts on special occasions or when we all needed a special treat for the week. Whether it conjures memories from when you were growing up or helps enhance new memories, nothing says home like the smell of baking.

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Fasting Phenomenon

The old adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is one that Jason Fung, M.D. does not refute; however, what the Ontario-based physician does disagree with is when you actually have your breakfast. “People need to remember that your breakfast is simply just the meal that breaks your fast,” he says.

And fasting is what Fung has become an expert in over the years. As the coauthor of the wildly successful The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting, Fung has incorporated the method of intermittent fasting (IF) into his practice and personal life over the last five years. IF or flexible eating is simply the act of eating in a defined window of time and fasting in the other; in other words, a person may eat in an eight-hour window but then fast for the other sixteen hours of the day. For most of Fung’s patients who suffer from type 2 diabetes, the use of IF has become an integral part of their treatment, helping the majority get out of the diabetic range sans the use of medications. “Intermittent fasting is an incredibly powerful tool in dealing with type 2 diabetics and those who are obese,” says Fung. “It helps them lower their insulin levels and lose weight more productively without the use of medications.”

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spring greens


These roasted artichokes couldn’t be easier to prepare. I’ve created a no-fuss recipe that will have these little beauties in the oven in no time and ready to eat in less than two hours. Artichokes don’t have to be trimmed down to half their size or the fuzzy choke pulled out prior to roasting. When using the smaller artichokes, simply trimming the tops and stems and then slicing in half works just as well. Roast and cool, and then serve them with this easy lemon aioli. They make a lovely appetizer or evening nibble.
Serves 4 to 6

4 to 6 small to medium artichokes
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 to 2 lemons
Salt and pepper
½ cup good quality mayonnaise
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

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Mountain Treasure

For years, Asheville, North Carolina was just a blip on the radar compared to its much more popular southern neighbors like Charleston and even Charlotte. But in the last ten to fifteen years, there’s been an obvious switch from sleepy mountain town to one of the region’s top destinations boasting a nationally acclaimed food, music, and arts scene that rivals any larger city. The move, though gradual, has put Asheville on the map, drawing day travelers from North and South Carolina as well as Tennessee and visitors from all over the US. What was once the South’s best-kept secret is now a relative hot spot.

While there are charming B&Bs and larger luxury chain hotels (aloft, AC Hotel, and Cambria are great options) to choose from, you’d be remiss if you didn’t stay on the grounds of the historic Biltmore Estate. The one-time estate of railroad titan George Vanderbilt, the Biltmore is the largest privately-owned home in the US. And it’s because of this that you feel an instant welcoming warmth the moment you walk through the inn’s doors. Whether you opt for a room at the inn or the newer village property on the estate, you’ll feel at ease among the cozy, traditional decor that feels at once welcoming and relaxing. The stunning gardens are on display year-round; they feature almost ten acres of perfectly manicured flowers, trees, and plants including more than 250 varieties of roses alone. Grab a glass of wine and wander the more than two-and-a-half miles of paths that snake through the gardens. Downtown, stay at the intimate boutique property, the Bunn House Hotel. This charming five-room (and one suite) hotel was built in 1905 and restored to its original charm with modern touches for today’s travelers. Each room’s en suite bath is outfitted with L’Occitane products, heated floors, and a steam shower for ultimate relaxation.

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Tools of the trade

The old adage that a workman is only as good as his tools makes a lot of sense. Tools leverage your labor, and choosing the right one for the job will save you time and effort when it comes to preparing and maintaining your garden this year.

Whatever the tool, it will last longer and be more enjoyable to use if it’s well made; buying cheap, low-quality tools rarely pays off. Look for excellent workmanship and materials, including handles made of hardwood (preferably ash or hickory), a carbon or stainless-steel blade forged from a solid piece of metal, and a solid (rather than wrapped or welded) handle socket.

Before you buy anything, handle the tool to make sure it is a good size for you; petite people often find that tools scaled for children are more comfortable. It should be comfortable to use and not too heavy or too light.


Using the right tool is key to successfully completing a project. For example, a four-tined pitchfork makes moving mulch much easier than using a shovel. A long-handled shovel is the best tool for digging deep, round holes; a short-handled spade with a square blade is best for digging trenches, edging, and other applications where a straight, square cut is desired.

Rakes can be designed for different tasks. A leaf rake is made from flexible metal, bamboo, or plastic tines, and fans out to collect the leaves. A bow rake has short, rigid metal tines for smoothing or scratching up the soil surface. The narrow design of a shrub rake makes it ideal for reaching into tight spaces.

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Meadow farm

Burton DeMarche, owner of Wilton, Connecticut-based The LaurelRock Company, has been maintaining Meadow Farm, a lush, beautiful sixteen-acre property in upscale Fairfield County, Connecticut for the past seven years. “We originally partnered with Cambridge, Massachusetts Stephen Stimson Associates Landscape Architects on the installation,” explains DeMarche. “Stephen is a fantastic landscape architect who worked with the owner to come up with a beautiful and environmentally conscious design.”
The original homestead was renovated and turned into a home for the owners’ parents. A new main house was completed about five years ago. The owners occupy the main residence, which features a very traditional, classic farmhouse front and more modern interpretation rear with lots of glass, steel siding, and a significantly contemporary feel. “The owners have provided input over the years and we’ve been able to combine their thoughts with the landscape development, resulting in a very livable, family-oriented space with orchards, a vegetable garden, tea garden, a pool, beehives, comfortable sitting areas, and thousands of annuals, perennials, trees, and grasses,” offers DeMarche. “In addition, we have sixteen container plantings on the property that we change out seasonally.” Continue reading

Big Sky Subtlety

For Lisa Kanning, it’s all about the details. And when it came to her clients’ sprawling Montana alpine ranch situated on 160 acres, creating interest beyond the breathtaking setting was of the utmost importance. “I love to design a home so that when someone walks into a room, it takes them a few minutes to really take it all in,” says the Brooklyn-based designer. “I want them to notice little details every single time they enter that space; things that they didn’t recognize before. It’s all about creating this new experience every time you’re in that room.”

Which was exactly the approach Kanning took when creating the interiors for the 10,000-square-foot modern mountain home located in the ultra-exclusive Yellowstone Club, a 13,600-acre private residential community. Anchored by a statement piece, each room seamlessly works in tandem with another but still maintains its own personality. “I love to add one prominent item in each space and then build around it with smaller, textural details,” explains Kanning, who was inspired by the sleek, modern interiors of New York’s Gramercy Park Hotel for this particular project.

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Colorful Classic

As Betsy Burnham proves to perfection, the details make a difference in your decor. The principal designer and owner of Los Angeles-based Burnham Design (@burnhamdesign) focused on the details to deliver classic interiors with a layered twist for a family who purchased a pared-down traditional residence in an upscale neighborhood near the beach in Santa Monica, California. “Layering is a big part of what I do,” says the clever designer who infused the rooms with an arresting array of elements in a variety of styles, patterns, and textures. “There’s a real mix of vintage and new.”

For Burnham, the layering process happens in stages with pops of color here and there. “It’s all about balance,” says the designer, whose personal aesthetic is classic and timeless, but not stuffy. “I always caution people about trends. In the end, no one wants their home to read like a year.”

Instead, she says,“I always default to something high-quality and classic and I want it to look collected in a natural, authentic way.” Burnham had already established a rapport with these clients while working on their previous home, so when they outgrew it they came back to the designer for more of her dreamy decor.

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Timeless Tudor

“Can you do a black kitchen?” Mario J. Mulea laughs as he recalls the first words the homeowner spoke to him. The homeowner had just stepped into the showroom for Kitchen Designs by Ken Kelly (, a firm serving the Long Island area of New York where Mulea works as a kitchen designer. As an experienced interior designer herself, the homeowner had a clear vision of what she wanted to accomplish. That she sought Mulea’s help offers a clue into how specialized and complicated kitchen design can be.

The kitchen in the homeowner’s nearly-century-old Tudor was the final update that needed to be made to return the home to its former glory. In Mulea, she found a kindred spirit who appreciated the history of her home and believed it should inform and inspire the design. “I always talk about the house first,” he says, describing his design process. “What’s the style of the house? What neighborhood is it in? Do the interiors match the architecture? If you have a center-hall colonial and you ask for cobalt-blue, high-gloss cabinets, I’ll tell you that you’ve picked the wrong designer. I’m not going to do that.”

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