Category Archives: Travels

Home at Orchard House

The lovely home of Louisa May Alcott where she based and penned the classic, Little Women. (Concord/peterson)

The lovely home of Louisa May Alcott where she based and penned the classic, Little Women. (Concord/peterson)

Orchard House/Concord [The home of Louisa May Alcott]:  There has always been a house I felt I knew even though I had never crossed its threshold. It lived in my mind and in my heart.

There I learned that “love casts out fear…” there I smiled with the cry of “Let us be elegant or die!” … and during trials I remembered not to be “afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”

The recreated Orchard House for the 1994 movie, Little Women.

The recreated Orchard House for the 1994 movie, Little Women.

For me, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott has always been an ever present story in my life. Her home was one I felt I too lived in. I can’t tell you how many times I longed to be with the March sisters, writing for their newspaper, playing Roderigo in Jo’s play, falling in love with Laurie their next door neighbor, or spending Christmas with them singing carols in their parlor.

Visiting Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts reminded me again of the power of story and the power of place.

I remembered that it really doesn’t matter how ornate or expanse a home is for it be special. Orchard House is small, dressed in the sketches of May Alcott (Amy March), and filled with the love of a family that was far ahead of its time.  It’s the best house, other than my mother’s, that I’ve ever been in.

Bronson Alcott's School of Philosophy (Concord/peterson)

Bronson Alcott’s School of Philosophy (Concord/peterson)

Bronson Alcott built Louisa a desk in her room which was quite scandalous for the times, his school allowed girls and people of color to learn side-by-side in the 1800’s, and his wife and their beloved Marmie tirelessly taught, encouraged, and loved her little women, “The clocks were striking midnight and the rooms were very still as a figure glided quietly from bed to bed, smoothing a coverlid here, settling a pillow there, and pausing to look long and tenderly at each unconscious face, to kiss each with lips that mutely blessed, and to pray the fervent prayers which only mothers utter.”

Orchard House as seen approaching from the sidewalk

Orchard House as seen approaching from the sidewalk

To have a home such as Orchard House is to have a home that is safe for all, those who live in it and those who visit.

And, only in that safety that home instills in us can we find the courage and confidence to be what we could be and to “do something splendid before I go into my castle- something heroic or wonderful, that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all, some day.”

May we all strive to have homes that inspire, not by how they look, but by how they feel.

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For more information on Orchard House and the Amazing Alcott Family, please visit these sites:

Orchard House

What You Missed in History Class- Louisa May Alcott

All quotations are from Little Women. All photos are my own, June 22, 2015.

FullSizeRender (12) FullSizeRender (4) Orchard House Side View

Turning a Corner in Charleston

Battery Park in Charleston, South Carolina.

Battery Park in Charleston, South Carolina.

In a few steps, you can turn down a corner and escape.

That’s my favorite part of Charleston.

Scores of moving lines have been written about her beauty, seduction, and endurance; all of them true. She is a Holy City that entrances you with her streets of cobblestone and her walls of ivy. But, the best quality is her balance between busy and quiet.

Sometimes in life we need to just take a few steps, and turn a corner.

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H&S in the Hamptons

House Beautiful

Guest blogger, Amanda Swearingen, covers the East Hampton Antique Show for HOST and SERVE. Amanda has a degree in Interior Design and is currently creating custom dresses for little girls in her spare time, with plans to expand her brand in 2015. 

After seeing a write up about it in House Beautiful I started off my morning at the 8th annual East Hamptons Antiques Show benefitting the East Hampton Historical Society. The show’s location was worth the visit alone. Continue reading

Wait for Me! – SERVES as an entertaining read

The cover of  WAIT FOR ME by Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire

The cover of WAIT FOR ME by Deborah Mitford, photograph be Cecil Beaton

“My father… was famous for having read only one book, White Fang, which he enjoyed so much he vowed never to read another. When they were first married, my mother was shocked to realize that my father had read only one book. She persuaded him to listen to her reading aloud some classics, starting with Thomas Hardy. She chose Tess of the d’Ubervilles with its descriptions of farm and heath land, which she thought he would enjoy. When she got to the sad part, my father started crying. ‘Oh, darling, don’t cry, it’s only a story.’ ‘What,’ said my father, his sorrow turning to rage, ‘do you mean to say the damn feller made it up?’ I was born after the days of White Fang and never saw my father open a book.” -Deborah Mitford Cavendish, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, Wait For Me

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The Peony Does NOT Have to be Your Favorite Flower

in the rose garden at Hampton Court Palace, England

In the rose garden at Hampton Court Palace, England

For some reason, it seems like EVERY blogger, stylist, and wedding planner is OBSESSED with peonies. Are they getting paid by a secret society of peony pushers? Have they brainwashed all of us into thinking that only the peony is “pretty?”

I admit; I fell for it for a moment this year. I voraciously googled how to grow peonies in Florida and even thought, “Maybe I could grow them in my refrigerator…”

It took traveling to England to remind me of my first flower love, and in my opinion the queen of the flower kingdom, the English Garden Rose.

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Serving Endless Possibilities

on the Amstel in Amsterdam

on the Amstel in Amsterdam

[something I wrote one morning, sitting by the Amstel River in Amsterdam]

Whenever I travel, I always feel like the possibilities come without end. I can do things and be people I had never thought of at home. Why is that?

It’s life at home, I suppose. The routine, the expectations, the ceilings… the sky is just bigger here.

The best hosts make you feel special and make you feel welcome. They’ve always inspired me to be more hospitable in return. The Netherlands, and our hosts through Airbnb, have been that for me. I hope to bring back a little of their big sky.