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Things move more slowly in August.  I watch as the vacation weeks roll through the workforce in my industry, and even the plants seem to be taking a break in this drought.  

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As you may have noticed, something new has arrived in Essex.  It’s Pon.  A lovely place full of unexpected juxtapositions. Japan meets Sweden. Whimsy meets sophistication. Useful meets wonderful.  All of these marvelous, odd couples are happening in a delightful new space at the corner of Southern and Main. In a store called Pon.

How nice it was to have the Fourth of July back in full swing.

It’s the holiday of choice for these parts, and in my town the parade starts at 10 a.m.  Personally, this seems like an ill-advised hour for me to arrive in last year’s red, white and blues and have a mimosa thrust into my hand.

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Getting going on a home remodeling project can feel deceivingly simple in the beginning.  Clients usually know they want certain things, like to renovate a kitchen and to add a family room for instance.  That’s easy enough to envision, right?

The Fairy Ring mushroom is delightfully named, evoking childhood legends of elves and fairies dancing around a ring of mushrooms.  They often grow in a circular pattern called fairy rings which were believed to be the place where dragons rested (Austria) or where the devil churned his milk (Holland) or where bisons danced (Native Americans). 

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So what do I do to embrace this shoulder season?  Well, for one, I celebrate an old friend: the humble, ever-cheerful, frost-resistant pansy.  For me they pack a punch for a small price tag.   Yes, they get straggly by the end of June, but honestly, who cares?  You’ve still gotten maybe six good weeks of good cheer out of them (with a little deadheading) and that’s a pretty good return on investment.  And when they are past their prime, I just shift them to a back corner and give some other showy annual the center stage for those summer months.  They don’t seem to mind.  They all get a turn.

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Jim Trudeau understands enoughness. I dare say he came into the world wired this way. He is a breath of fresh air.  And his work has made its way into many of our homes - and the homes of many - because of this exact and extraordinary quality.  Jim is an artist, a potter, living and working in Essex.  He and his wife, Ann, own Wheelworks Pottery on Main Street where Jim makes pottery in a small studio, fires it as well, and then sells it in a small shop behind his home.

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PROFESSIONALLY, IT'S BEEN a streaky year for me.  Last spring, I hit a point where I was working on 12 bathrooms at one time.  This fall, it seems to be all about kitchens.  Both rooms are sort of cornerstones of my business in their own way, but the design process for each couldn’t be more …

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On any given day, as an interior designer, Jen Coles may be invited into someone’s home to talk about how that home is working for them and how it is not.  

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Here we are.  A whole new year thrust upon us.  And almost as proof of this, there is the subtle change of landscape that I witness every year about this time.  Our holiday lights are slowly coming down, and for me, it’s an adjustment.  A spot that was once bathed in sparkle, is now just—well, I guess its true self.  We are putting the lights away until next year.  

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It's the time of year when I quote from my favorite holiday special, A Charlie Brown Christmas. Lucy says to her blanket-toting little brother, “You think you’re so smart with that blanket. What are you gonna do with it when you grow up?”  Linus replies, “Maybe I’ll turn it into a sport coat.”  Which, besides cracking me up, is actually pretty wise.  During the holidays we want the comfort and security that some of our old habits and traditions can provide.  

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The town of Essex is known far and wide for antiques, and antiquing.  But a new list of businesses have arrived to town in the last 18 months that have given a boost to the idea of home design.  This isn’t totally new, of course.  There are some who have forged the way long ago.  But it’s an interesting uptick.  And it seems to be driven by new residents who have moved to Essex, brought their entrepreneurial hustle with them.

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It’s definitely deep fall.  I can’t cheerfully deny it any longer.  And, yes, I know, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with it. I mean, early fall has long been my favorite season.  But deep fall has a purgatory quality to it the same way early spring does for me. It’s got its foot in the threshold of two different seasons, and it can wreak havoc on my mind in a similar way that it does to my wardrobe.

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My friend’s son is getting married - and I think it makes everyone in our group feel a little bit older. But it got me to thinking about that first house that we owned, on that dead-end street where we all raised our kids.  Our house needed some work, and I was young and absolutely baffled by how to go about hiring someone.  

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When I was still married, my then-husband used to tell me that I was a delicate ecosystem.  He had a point.  I get migraines if I don’t drink enough water.  I need yoga or the outdoors or meditation to ground me.  

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Wow, what an unexpectedly dreary summer so far.  And I have to say, I didn’t see it coming.  This was supposed to be our big break from COVID, right?  We knew the break might be fleeting, but we had earned the freedoms that this summer was going to bring us and our hopes were high.

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As some of you may know, my design mantra is all about putting your “you-ness” into your home.  So, it may surprise you that as a designer, my first priority is not your you-ness, but it is that your room be functional.