Set in Stone

After four years, designer Harmony Weihs, principal of designHarmony, had enough. The kitchen in her 1963, midcentury-modern home located in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland had not been updated since it was first built. That meant that the home’s seven-foot kitchen ceilings, electric cooktop stove, original linoleum flooring, Formica counters, tile backsplash, and wood cabinets—“which were literally falling off the hinges,” she says— were still intact . . . barely. “It was so cramped,” says Weihs. “There just wasn’t any space to do anything in the kitchen besides cook.”

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Nibble & Nosh Small Plates That Celebrate the Season

What better way to share the season of gatherings and entertaining than with delicious food? Serving a variety of tempting small bites creates a festive table. A place where conversation lingers, laughter ensues, and palates are satiated. For an evening of nibbles, I like to prepare a collection of dishes that play to all the senses; creamy, crunchy, sweet, savory, fragrant, indulgent, and of course fresh and simple. This might seem like a daunting list of requirements, but I assure you it’s quite easy with the following menu.

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Brain Games

Working on Your Mental Fitness


Brain Games

Photography by MartinPrescott/E+/Getty Images.

In the world of health, there is a lot of emphasis on physical fitness. You know you’re supposed to eat right, get thirty minutes of exercise at least three times a week, see your doctor annually, and avoid all the vices. But you don’t get as many regular reminders about keeping your brain as fit as your body. As the societal norm moves away from a foundation of community, the simple interactions that once kept people’s minds engaged are waning. Whether you want to improve your memory or be proactive so you can stay sharp as a tack for the long run, consider adding some of these activities to your to-do list today.

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When Massachusetts designer Jess Cooney was hired to resuscitate this Berkshires kitchen, it had fallen on nothing short of hard times. “The previous owner got divorced, I believe, and ended up not really finishing the house all the way, so they started to cut corners at the end knowing it wasn’t going to be their home,” says the designer. “They threw some cabinets into the kitchen last minute, but didn’t do the trim or baseboards, and the fireplace was just left inserted with sheetrock—not finished in any way!” Enter Cooney, who was tasked with bringing it up to snuff for the new homeowners. Her clients intended to use the Alford, Massachusetts home as a de facto ski lodge for their family including their two teenage sons, and it needed to stand up to New England winters. It also required a classic look that would stand the test of time, because, as Cooney says, “most kitchens need to be updated every ten years.”

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Atlanta-based creatives—photographer Cati Teague and designer Gina Sims— have worked together for years. Sims designs and Teague shoots. But when Teague needed a kitchen redo, she called on Sims, principal at Gina Sims Designs, who was happy to help. “[Cati’s] got a great eye for design—I was absolutely thrilled to help her transform her 225-square-foot kitchen,” says Sims. The loft is located in Inman Park, Atlanta’s first planned residential suburb and first electric trolley neighborhood. When the street car system provided an easy commute to work in the big city, Atlanta’s nineteenth-century elite rushed to the rural area to build businesses and grand homes near beautiful parks. Teague’s loft is located in a circa-1890 commercial building situated right near the beautiful Atlanta Beltline—the perfect place for daily walks with her dog.

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Put a lid on it



The mere mention of the word parfait induces cheers of happiness in my house. And this is one of our favorites. It’s made with bananas, granola, and Greek yogurt, which pair well with all sorts of festive toppings—from butterscotch chips and peanut butter to raspberries and white chocolate. This is a fun and tasty parfait that you can serve for breakfast or dessert with a quick topping mix-up.

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Curtis Casual – California Living by Way of Texas


Interior designer Ginger Curtis, owner and principal of Urbanology Designs, has always been a California girl at heart. When it came time to furnish the home she shares with her husband Eric Curtis and their five children in Fort Worth, Texas, she knew she wanted to bring in some style elements of her childhood in California, but with a fresh, contemporary update.

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Cooped Up – Installing Fashionable Chicken Coops


As more people search for a sustainable, self-sufficient way of life, the population of suburban neighborhoods is changing. People aren’t necessarily moving out, but chickens are moving in. In addition to providing fresh eggs, free-range chickens help control insects, add nutrients to the garden, and can even make affectionate pets. But to keep your little red hens safe and comfortable, the perfect coop is key. Most chicken coops are humble abodes hidden in a discrete location in the garden, but that doesn’t have to be the case. With a bit of creativity, you can craft a practical and attractive setup worthy of being a central feature in your garden.

At her country home in Connecticut, the internationally renowned decorator Bunny Williams has an outdoor chicken run with swooping rafters to support the netting that keeps her flock safe from predators. The hen houses that flank this spacious aviary are built in the style of colonial outbuildings with clapboard siding and a pyramid hip roof. Williams-Sonoma featured a charming coop on wheels that allowed the chickens to be moved around your property—creating a modified version of free-range chickens—priced at $1,300. In its 2012 fantasy gifts catalog, Neiman Marcus offered a $100,000 chicken coop inspired by Le Petit Trianon at Versailles.
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Hiking & healing

The layered landscape of the Southwestern United States—with towering red-rock formations, twisted junipers, and winding canyon waterways—is often described as otherworldly. But in Sedona, Arizona, otherworldly takes on a whole new meaning. The town of just 10,000 year-round residents attracts global visitors for traditional vacation activities such as golf, spa services, shopping, hiking, and all things metaphysical. Tapping into the energy of the area’s natural vortexes is said to enhance healing, enlightenment, and spirituality. Whether you are excited by the relaxing properties of the arid desert or the mystical properties of the metaphysical, Sedona awaits.

You’d be remiss if you didn’t spend time outdoors, taking in the beauty of the dramatic, varied, and brilliant shades of the red rocks. They are easy to appreciate, regardless of your mobility. If you’re able to adventure along the trails, there are plenty of hikes available to all levels of experience. Cathedral Rock, Devil’s Bridge, and Fay Canyon offer breathtaking journeys and viewpoints. Stop at the town visitor center for maps, current weather conditions, and any hazards be mindful of. The desert is prone to dangerous flash flooding, so you should be aware of impending rain before embarking on a day hike. Water is always paramount, regardless of the length of your trek. You can never bring too much.

If you’re not secure in your outdoor skills or you have a limited amount of time to see the landscape, consider signing up for an adventure tour. Guides and their jeeps will take you directly to the viewpoints so you can spend more time at the highlights and less time getting there. You don’t need a guide to get to Oak Creek Canyon. The river offers plenty of easy access spots to cool off with a swim or relax with your fishing poll.

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Purrfection – How a Pet Can Boost Your Well-Being


With a great pet comes great responsibility. But as most pet owners would agree, animal friends are well worth the effort. Whether you have a live-in dog, cat, bird, rabbit, or fish—or something more exotic or farm friendly—pets provide candor to everyday life and help you appreciate the simple things.

It’s no secret that pets make terrific companions and have the ability to brighten your day with their sunny dispositions and console you with their unconditional love. So, it should come as no surprise that actual scientific research has shown pets can be beneficial to your physical and mental health. Their attention and dedication with no hidden agenda (save wanting a cookie, perhaps) can put your mind and body at ease, which may be why therapy pets have become more prevalent in hospitals and cancer centers. Animals are introduced to simply sit with the patient for companionship and connection. (Studies show some dogs may have the ability to detect cancer by scent, leading to early detection, too.) Specially trained dogs also visit other public settings, such as libraries, where kids can practice reading to a captive audience. Programs like these demonstrate the strong bond between people and pets.

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