Wednesday, May 28, 2014

FARMER'S DOZEN: Mary Kay Andrews

  Akin to a baker's dozen, my Farmer's Dozen is a quantity of a dozen or so questions - a series of questions with fellow designers, authors, tastemakers, friends and Southerners alike

I've read almost all of MKA's books... The latest one is tempting me to take off for the summer and read the hot days away... But alas I must keep my day job! 

Kathy aka MKA is a delightful dear friend of mine. Anyone who reads her works feels befriended by her - her writing voice is such a part of her natural persona that each page is akin to a soulful conversation with a longtime pal.

Kathy and I share a passion for blue and white, antique shopping and IGA fried chicken - what better foundation for a friendship? Whether we are shopping at Scott's or lunching at Tybee whilst gazing onto the steely Atlantic or emailing throughout the week words of encouragement, plans for book launches or just to say "hey y'all," any time or text with MKA is a jewel! I'm sure y'all would agree! 

Ladies and gents, without further adieu, please enjoy this Farmer's Dozen with JTF and MKA!! 

Mary KayAndrews is the New York Times bestselling author of Ladies Night, Christmas Bliss, Spring Fever, Summer Rental, The Fixer Upper, Deep Dish, Blue Christmas, Savannah Breeze, Hissy Fit, Little Bitty Lies, and Savannah Blues. A former journalist for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, she lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Farmer’s Dozen: Mary Kay Andrews

1. We both have a love for IGA fried chicken. What would be a perfect Southern meal for you?Anything you cook! If this hypothetical meal were magically calorie-free, I’d love some fried chicken, mac’-n’-cheese, dead ripe sliced tomatoes with homemade balsamic dressing drizzled over, devilled eggs, zucchini, homemade biscuits with fig preserves and a big ol’ wedge of homemade pound cake. And then I’d nap for the rest of the summer.

2.  Whether at Scotts or your Tybee Island cottage, I love the times we’ve had to eat, laugh, and visit. Where do you go to write and rejuvenate? I love to look up from my laptop to see beautiful scenery, whether it’s our beach house Ebbtide, on Tybee Island, a borrowed house on a lake in the North Georgia mountains, or just my front porch, where I’m working right now, looking out past the fern baskets and pink knock-out roses.

3.  My favorite book of yours is Hissy Fit. I love that you write about fictional people in real places. What was your inspiration for the setting and characters in Hissy Fit? For that book I needed a good Southern girl who is provoked into throwing the biggest hissy fit ever. I made her an interior designer, because I’m a decorator in denial, and I set the book in Madison because I wanted a real small town where old secrets suddenly come bubbling up from the past.

4. Which character in your books closest resembles you? All my characters have a bit of my DNA in them—only they’re younger, cuter, thinner and smarter than me. And they definitely have more man problems!

5. What did you call your grandmothers? Share a story about them…maybe something you inherited from her? My maternal grandmother was “Gram.” And my paternal grandmother “Nanny” was an Irish immigrant who lived in Chicago, so I only saw her once a year, in May, when she came to visit. My mother’s mother was a piece of work. She had all kinds of memorable expessions, like “hold your horses, Sister Perkins,” or “that girl looks like country come to town,” or “looks like a sack-full of cats going to the river.” Maybe I inherited my love for colorful language from my Gram.

6. Who inspires you? I’m inspired by people who are selfless and giving, by women from all walks of life who face immeasurable obstacles, but still soldier on, raising children, feeding hungry people, getting things done without a lot of fanfare. I’m inspired by those who dare to dream—and then keep trying.

7.  What are some of your favorite heirlooms? What do you love about them? How have you incorporated them into your d├ęcor? I have a few old black and white snapshots of family members at the same beach in my hometown in St. Petersburg, Fla. One of my mom, at the age of 17, modeling a swimsuit on the beach. Another of me, as a toddler, in a droopy cotton swimsuit on that same beach just a few years later. There’s a grainy one of my grandmother, in a depression-era dress and hat, camping on that same beach. And yet another black and white, of my son, maybe age 8, hamming it up for the camera on another Florida beach. I have them all framed and displayed in the stairwell of our beach house on Tybee. I love the sense of continuity in the pictures, the care-free memories they evoke, and the visual link to members of my family who are now gone.

8. What are your favorite scents from the home and garden? I love the smell of gardenias—we have a huge shrub in our font yard. Anything lemony or citrusy. I burn Archepilago’s Red Currant candles when I write.

9.  I think a coffee table says a lot about your life and style. What’s on your coffee table right now, and what is your coffee table? I have stacks of decorating books and coffee table books, like Dinner on the Grounds, a huge tole tray painted with flowers, a Disney princess coloring book and a lidless white ironstone tureen full of crayons for my grandchildren. The table itself is an antique oval pine harvest table, cut down to coffee table height.

10.  If you were a color, what would you be and why? Blue—it’s the color of serenity, calm, deep water. All of which I crave in my life.

11. What’s your favorite room in your home? Probably the little sun-room off the living room in our 1925 Craftsman cottage. It’s where I wrote large chunks of my latest book, and where I take catnaps.

12.  Do you collect anything in particular? If so, how did you start? I started collecting blue and white transferware after my mother gifted me with a few pieces of Blue Willow from my grandmother’s house. I have a nice collection of vintage tin lithographed beach toys, which I display at our beach house, like sand pails, shovels and watering cans, that started when I found two toy watering cans at an estate sale for a couple bucks.

13. You’re having a dinner party could invite anyone… Including any character from history, who would be at your dinner party? (Pssst, I am included on the guest list) Hmm. Audrey Hepburn, because she was beautiful and compassionate and involved. Julian Fellowes, so I could ask him about next season’s Downton Abbey, Amelia Earhart—I want to find out what happened to her. And Truman Capote, who knew everybody important in the last half of the 20th century—and who loved to dish the dirt about all of them.

Monday, May 12, 2014

FARMER'S DOZEN: Beekman Boys

Please excuse the blogging hiatus. I'll dive into some of the happenings of my life soon. In the meantime y'all, I'm thrilled to relaunch my Farmer's Dozen series - and with some fabo peeps! So, without further adieu...

I remember the first time I saw "The Fabulous Beekman Boys." Well, it wasn't an "in person" meeting but a sighting more so. I was in NYC for an event when I stumbled upon a large advertisement for their show. The oversized, larger than life window display at some tony shop in Manhattan depicted two boyish young gents in plaid shirts and Wellies - and they were posed a la "American Gothic" style and surrounded by all the bucolic accoutrements associated therein.

Immediately upon seeing this sight, I thought to myself, "Self, you and these fellas would be friends." Leave it to social media, good literary agents and small world connections to bring this Farmer into a conversation with these boys. I had to interview them! They obliged graciously and our friendship began!

Besides, when a friendship is based on mutual admiration for baby farm animals, cheese and fresh farm flowers, you know it'll be a good time! We all farm in our own ways, have an affinity for plaid and swoon at the scent of a freshly mown pasture. Friendship was meant to be! Plus, their show is great - really fun to watch and quite inspirational.

Ladies and gents - or shall I say fabulous boys and girls - I present the return of my Farmer's Dozen with my interview with The Fabulous Beekman Boys.

Ps- They - along with yours truly (hint hint, wink wink) - have a new book... And their book is fab!

  Akin to a baker's dozen, my Farmer's Dozen is a quantity of a dozen or so questions - a series of questions with fellow designers, authors, tastemakers, friends and Southerners alike

Bio:  Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell are the founders of Beekman 1802,  a farm and Mercantile in Sharon Springs, NY.   Learn more about seasonal living at or by following them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram (Beekman1802Boys).  The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook is their third book of recipes inspired by their farm.

Farmer’s Dozen: Beekman 1802 Boys

1. What are two fabulous things about your new cookbook?
It will make even those people in your life who "hate vegetables" clean their plates.

The design inspiration for the book was vintage seed catalogs, so even the book itself looks good enough to eat.

2. Who inspired you to learn how to cook?

Both of us learned from various members of our families. Brent's grandmother, who grew up in the coal mining country of West Virginia, always said that if a man can feed himself he'll never go hungry.

3. For me, my grandmother was my inspiration for cooking, I called her Mimi. What did you call your grandmothers?
Brent:  Mamaw (paternal) and Nanny (maternal).  Josh:  Grandma (paternal) and Grammy (maternal)

4. What are you listening to right now on iTunes?

The new eponymous Natalie Merchant album

5. What are your favorite scents from the garden and kitchen?

Fresh dirt, newly mown grass, beans in a slow cooker and bacon

6. I think a coffee table says a lot about your life and style. What’s on your coffee table right now, and what is your coffee table?

Our favorite coffee table is one we recently designed called The Water Table.  It is made by our local blacksmith and has steel legs that have the silhouette of turned wood and a removable zinc top that can serve as a place to put your indoor plants or as a service tray for beverages.

7. What’s your favorite thing to eat? Is it also your favorite thing to cook?

Our favorite thing to eat doesn't require cooking!  We love sandwiches made from anything freshly harvested from the garden!  Tomato sandwiches, onion sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches...the list goes on.

8. Do y’all collect anything interesting? If so, how did you start?

We have "mini-collections" of lots of things.  Our favorite collection is books printed in or around the year 1802---the year our farmhouse was built.  We like to think they were the same books William Beekman had in his own library back in the day.

9. How did y’all meet?
We met 15 years ago the old-fashioned way---online when it was still dial up and you had to actually work for it.

10. Downtime is precious… I know I’m ‘jonesing’ over Nashville and The Mindy Project right now. Do you binge watch any shows or have a current tv crush?

We are always binge watching! It makes for such an immersive experience.  After watching a full season of House of Cards in one sitting you can't help but feel powerful and dirty at the same time--just like you were a real politician!

11. You’re having a dinner party and could invite anyone… Including any character from history, who would be at your dinner party? (Pssst, I am included on the guest list) 

Sitting right next to you would be Mindy Kaling!  We'd put Tina Fey across the table to keep things balanced.

12. I’m a sucker for garden flowers in mason jars or julep cups; they’re my go-to centerpieces. Do you have a favorite go-to place setting?

Our current go-to pieces are some vintage hob nail vases.  You can always pick hob nail pieces up on the cheap at almost every yard sale.

13. You’ve had a perfect weekend, how does that Sunday night look for y’all? I love breakfast for supper on Sunday nights and spending that time with family. 

Sundays are the one day that we take off of work so that we can actually work in the gardens.  There's nothing so rewarding as being exhausted.

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