Chasing Fall in New England


Mist rolling over the hills in Pomfret, VT

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

 L.M. MontgomeryAnne of Green Gables


One of the most photographed farms in the US–Jenne Farm, Reading, VT

It’s October in New England and it seems that no matter where you are in the Northeast, you can find spectacular displays of fall foliage.  The fiery reds, warm golds and lush greens of fall are popping up everywhere from New York to Maine.  Not wanting to miss out on a fall that was already being described as “vibrant” and “neon”, I booked a weekend with friends recently to explore the back roads of Vermont, a state that I had only seen under the cover of snow.

We set off on our two-day quest for fantastic fall foliage and weren’t disappointed.  Neither the throngs of fellow leaf-peepers nor the forecast for rain slowed us down.  We only had time to explore a few towns and villages during our short visit.  But we were able to capture images of so many classic New England icons from stone walls and covered bridges to church steeples and village greens all in the stunning backdrop of Autumn’s eye-popping palette.

For my friends below the Mason-Dixon line who have a while longer to wait for their fall “peep shows”, here are some moments from my weekend in Vermont to hold you over.  Happy leaf-peeping!


Stowe Community Church, Stowe, VT


The sun going down on Lake Champlain, Burlington, VT



Barn in Woodstock, VT


Shops along the village green in South Royalton, VT


Woodstock Middle Bridge, Woodstock, VT



Taftsville covered bridge right outside Woodstock, VT


Reflections of autumn in the North Hartland Lake near the Quechee Gorge in Quechee, VT


One of the many stone walls found in New England. This one lines the walkway of the Vermont Law School in South Royalton, VT


The Quechee Gorge drops down165 feet where the Ottauquechee River runs through. The river originates in the Green Mountains and flows through Killington and continues eastwardly in the Woodstock, Pomfret, Hartford and Hartland and Quechee.


Vibrant foliage surrounding buildings on the Vermont Law School Campus, South Royalton, VT


Photos by Susan Scarborough

Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginning’s End

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Today is the official first day of fall. The signs of summer’s end have been around for a while now though. The days are shorter, the air is crisper, leaves are turning and falling from the trees.  As sad as I am to see summer end, autumn has always seemed like the season of change for me.  A time for new beginnings.

As the Roman philosopher, Seneca The Younger said (…or maybe it was the 90’s band, Semisonic…), “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

So before we completely close the door on summer and celebrate a new beginning, here’s one last look at some of Summer 2014’s finest moments.

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As soon as the kids were out of school, we kicked off summer with a trip to the Water Color and Seaside on the Gulf of Mexico. These white sands and emerald waters will always feel like home.

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Familiar walk in Seaside.

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Summer Concert Series at the Seaside Amphitheater with live music from The Dirty Guv’nahs

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Soaking in the view of Nantucket harbor before dinner.

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Madaket…everyone’s favorite beach!

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Great Point Light

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Summer memories being made with the best of friends.

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Company of the Cauldron

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Auld Lang Syne in ‘Sconset is one of the oldest (and sweetest) houses on Nantucket and was built around 1675.


Gorgeous sunset with friends in Chatham, MA


Photos by Evelyn Savage and Susan Scarborough 

Maine — The New England of Your Dreams


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Bass Harbor Head Light – Sunset

The breathtaking beauty of Maine is captured in these photos of rugged shores marked with classic lighthouses overlooking boat-filled harbors.

The photos were taken by my incredibly talented friend Katie O’Reilly on her recent weekend trip to The Pine Tree State.  The collection showcases how summer in New England can be the holiday of your dreams with a series of iconic photographs. From St. Ann’s Church near the Bush’s estate on Walker Point to the majestic vistas of Acadia National Park, Katie’s photos already have me planning my own weekend escape back to the rocky shores of Maine. You can see more from her trip at her website and on Instagram.  While you are there, check out stunning collections from her other travels.

On this summer night in New England as I tuck my exhausted but happy children into their beds, I am inspired  by these iconic scenes and can’t help but channel John Irving by saying, “Goodnight, you princes of Maine, you kings of New England.”

Portland Head Light

Portland Head Light

St. Ann's Episcopal Church, Kennebunkport

St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, Kennebunkport

Spring Point Ledge, Portland

Spring Point Ledge, Portland

Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor

Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor

Portland Head Light- Sunset

Portland Head Light – Sunset

Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park

Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park

Bass Harbor Sunset

Bass Harbor Sunset

All photos by Katie O’Reilly 

Turning The Page


“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Ahhh…school has started. The smell of sharpened pencils. The buzz of a new school year with old friends and fresh notebooks.

The first acorn has bounced off the hood of my car. Leaves are floating from the trees. The September sky is it’s brightest blue. And windows are cracked at night to let the brisk autumn air in.

The page has turned. Fall is here.

New England is great this time of year and I can’t wait to make my first loaf of pumpkin bread. But a proper good bye to a spectacular summer would be nice and here are a few photos to wrap it  up.








Summer’s Sweet Swan Song


The last precious days of summer are upon us.  It’s time to get the kids ready to go back to school.  Labor Day is right around the corner and before you know it, SEC football will be kicking off.

But summer is not over by a long shot.  Even during these fading days of August, summer is holding its own in Nantucket.



Taking Kate, Jack and our friends out to Great Point at the northern most tip of the island.


An peaceful spot to take a coffee break outside The Bean Coffee Shop.





Brant Point lighthouse has been welcoming tired sailors into the safety of Nantucket Harbor for over a hundred years now.

Photos by Nathan Congleton for SXNE

Big Buckets of Time


I recently came across a wonderful article in the back of Southern Living written by the Pulitzer-Prize winning author, Rick Bragg. Reading the article was remarkable because it was on the back page of the magazine and my two kids never let me get all the way through a magazine these days! But Mr. Bragg’s article was also special because it struck such a nostalgic cord in me.

Rick writes of a childhood filled with endless summer days that seemed to last forever. Especially days that were spent jumping in puddles, chasing frogs and squishing bare toes through mud.  He described those days as a period in his life when “time came in big buckets.”

Oh how I wish I could get my hands on one of those buckets again.  Even during the longest days of summer when the sun is still peeking through the trees at 8:00 pm, the days seem to fly by at lightening speed.


I still remember my childhood filled with hot, humid Southern days stretching to fit in most everything I wanted to do. My brother and I rode bikes down country roads, caught fireflies in Mason jars, and played make-believe in the woods using water-logged branches floating in the creek and pretending the pliable pulp was “chicken” for our imaginary chicken salad.  (Obviously, my foodie inclinations were formed early.)

Another favorite pastime was running outside at the end of an afternoon shower and shaping balls of wet South Carolina dirt (and probably a little red clay) into mud pies. My muddy little hands produced impressive numbers of these earthy delicacies.  More than giving me more dirt under my nails than one bath could cure, these soggy moments formed memories of days spent with just my imagination and, on some summer days, an unexpected surprise or two.

I can still vividly see my mom coming home from her weekly hair salon appointment (looking so pretty with her 1970’s up-do) and bringing around a bright blue wading pool for my brother and me.  It was heaven in the back yard. Our surprise even came with a little slide built in.  We couldn’t wait to throw the water hose in our new plastic pool and find a way to escape the scorch of the sun. We somehow even managed to float on our backs in just a few inches of water.

These days, my children and I still catch fireflies in Mason jars just like I did so long ago (except we run a rigorously enforced catch-and-release program). And family days are still filled with riding bikes, running in the rain, walking barefoot through the mud and creating their own little make-believe universe.  Whether they know it or not, Kate and Jack  are now creating their own endless summers to share with their children. Maybe the collection of all their memories will come along with one of those big buckets of time that Rick, you and I long for in the August sunset of yet another fading summer.


Lucy’s Canvas Keeps It All In The Family


I love it when I stumble across creations that fall right in the heart of southXnortheast.   Daily Candy recently showcased this collection of adorable preppy canvas bags made right up the road in Massachusetts.

The brother-sister team at Lucy’s Canvas is doing great work while keeping it all in the family by carrying their mom’s craftwork into the 21st Century.   Whether in the Disco Days of the 1970s or the vintage revival of 2000’s, these bags are always in style.


Lucy’s Canvas nostalgic bags  appeal to the 80’s prep in me but also transcend generations by drawing in customers like my 10 year old daughter, Kate, whose favorite bag is Purple Passion.


This awesome “dream team” product not only spans eras: its handiwork crosses into my two favorite regions. Their bags are made with canvas from Big Duck Canvas out of Winder, GA and the webbing comes from All Island Webbing in Huntington Station, NY.  And all bags are made by hand in Everett, MA.  It is truly a SXNE creation that is perfect for a day on the beach or a day around town!


Photos by Lucy’s Canvas

Andrew, Evelyn and the Fight Against Autism

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This past month was Autism Awareness month and as the disease is personal to our family and friends,  I was glad to see the efforts of national organizations like Autism Speaks and many local support groups across the country push to educate the public on this issue. Back when Andrew was diagnosed, no one had really heard about autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In fact, I had to seek out information about Asperger’s syndrome on the internet to really piece together what the diagnosis would mean. Over a decade later,  the CDC estimates that 1 in 50 children has an ASD. With those statistics, it is critical for organizations like Autism Pensacola in my Florida hometown to get out front and provide information about the disease.

This week Autism Pensacola has partnered with the University of West Florida to host a regional conference in the beautiful city of Pensacola. Flying High with Autism is bringing in speakers like Dr. Temple Grandin and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. to discuss ASD research and therapy and to provide a forum for sharing the challenges and triumphs of individuals and families living with the diagnosis.

But this post isn’t just about promoting an autism conference.  It’s about a connection between our family, our hometown, and our friends. 180719_108065022604856_4369713_n

Andrew, who is now 22, understands his challenges and struggles on a daily basis to calculate his words and actions. He has learned how to communicate with others in a way that we take for granted.  After helping him navigate through the brutal (under any circumstances) teen years with this condition, we know just how important awareness is not just for those diagnosed but for those who interact with them.

My incredibly talented friend Evelyn Savage, who is responsible for many of the gorgeous photographs on this blog, is not only a photographer but also an amazing, supportive and brave mother of a child with autism.  Her son Laws was diagnosed 6 years ago with an ASD. She has redefined her role as a mother and has devoted her life to giving him the unconditional love, supporting environment and tools he needs to get through every day.  You can check out her raw and honest account of raising a child with autism here: A Little Boy Blue (and his hero sister, too).


So it is only fitting that this blog celebrates Andrew, Pensacola and Evelyn.  Thank you Andrew for blessing us with your persevering spirit, your kind heart and all the ways you make us smile .  Thank you to our friends in Pensacola for caring enough to promote this cause very dear to us and for helping Andrew find his way into adulthood. And thank you Evelyn for capturing in photos what words can’t describe.






Winter Shows Off in Woodstock

“You can’t get too much winter in the winter.”

Robert Frost

The beauty of nature is so easy to capture in Vermont. I love the simplicity and strength seen in the barns and buildings scattered over the countryside.

The layers of weathered wood and chipped paints on the structures have many stories to tell but they all seem to reflect the strength and perseverance of the people and region.

I can’t imagine there being a bad season to photograph Woodstock, but winter seems to be the season made for showcasing its loveliness.

Evening at Jean-Georges

Chalk it up to the old saying that it never hurts to ask. That was the case this past weekend when my friend, Kristine, and I visited Jean-Georges on Central Park West and asked to meet the legendary chef after our fabulous meal. Chef Jean-Georges was gracious enough to come out and patiently listen to our rave reviews.

He also came bearing great news for foodies everywhere. He shared he is planning to open a new Latin-Mexican restaurant in Manhattan. I’ll be counting the days until the city is graced with another Jean-Georges creation, but until then I’ll keep returning to the chic Columbus Circle restaurant that serves as the “jewel of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s empire” and continue to be smitten with innovative dishes like scallop sashimi, egg caviar, sea urchin and sweet potato soup with Parmesan foam.

Thanks to Chef Jean-Georges and his entire staff for making our night extraordinary!

(In Manhattan now? Make reservations!)

Photography from Jean-Georges. Scallop Sashimi image from Foodish Fetish.

Peter Dale at City Grit

When you serve good food on a big table you build a bridge to many things–family, fellowship, and friends to name a few. Tonight, City Grit built a bridge from New York all the way from Athens, GA.

Having moved to New York from South Carolina, I fancy myself an ambassador of my homeland. Sarah Simmons shares this passion with her creation of City Grit, a supper club in lower Manhattan dedicated to Southern food traditions.

So with two tickets in hand, I invited my friend Jeff for a taste of the South. Originally from upstate New York, he intends to move South. Has he visited? Nope, he just knows it’s that great. The family-focused, laid back lifestyle draws him in, but I wanted to show the food-focused life is worth the move, too.

Peter Dale, chef at The National in Athens, GA prepared a great 5-course meal, featuring his Ecuadorian heritage and Southern roots. We started with a New Year soup of blackeyed peas and amazing cornbread croutons. Cornbread croutons–brilliant.

Next, Peter stewed some amazing shrimp in a plantain sauce with peanuts (from Georgia, of course).

He gave a culinary shout out to my home state and the Palmetto Tree with an amazing beef tartare with hearts of palm. It was a close second to my favorite entrée, the chicken thighs with endives and a surprisingly refreshing orange marmalade. Definitely a new spin on chicken thighs for me.

But oh my word–the Carolina plantation rice pudding stole the show. The lady beside me phrased it perfectly: “It’s like rice pudding got in a fight with crème brûlée and they both won.”

The only un-Southern thing about this supper was I couldn’t go back for seconds, which I would have with rice pudding…multiple times.

Photography by Kley Sippel

Sarah Simmons at City Grit


Could there be a better discovery for a transplanted Southern girl than the City Grit Supper Club in New York City? I doubt it.

Chef Sarah Simmons is the mastermind behind this innovative mix between restaurant and private supper club. Her weekly dinners, held in a makeshift dining room in an old Manhattan school house, feature both established and emerging chefs who offer exciting variations on the Southern menu. I’ve had this downtown New York destination on my list for a long time and this week, a friend and I signed up for our first dinner — Butts, Legs,and Thighs.

The “butt” was roasted pork served up on butter lettuces leaves with sticky rice grits. It was layered with kimchi, fried oysters, ginger scallion sauce, spicy mayo, and dragon sauce. The “legs and thighs” were the classic Southern staple, fried chicken served steaming hot. Delish.

Sarah rounded her main courses out with sides of fried rice hoppin’ john and sautéed spinach with pickled raisins.

Throughout the evening, her Southern hospitality showed as she moved crossed the room, checking up on guests like the perfect host. I am charmed and can’t wait for the next City Grit offering…wanna join me? Learn more about Sarah and grab your tickets here.


Farmer’s Market


Nothing gets my culinary juices flowing more than browsing through the fresh fruit and vegetables sections under tents at my local farmers’ market.  This time of year I am especially drawn to the vibrant colors and varied textures of the early fall harvest.

Whether I am walking through the smallest farmers’ market in a library parking lot or wandering through the vast expanse of the Union Square Green Market in Lower Manhattan, these showcases of nature’s latest and greatest inspire menus and set my taste buds whirling.

Garden & Gun Dinner

Though a rare occurrence, I always get excited when my two worlds collide.  Those two worlds being the South, where I grew up, and the Northeast where I’ve lived the past five years. Typically these regions challenge the notion of “one nation…indivisible”, but when the influential last word on all things Southern and New York City come together, great things happen.

I found myself last night in a perfect cross section of these two worlds.  Bunny Williams hosted a Garden & Gun Club dinner in her shop, Treillage, on the Upper East side.

Not only were the hosts Southern, a lot of the guests were too.  For this transplanted Southerner, it was pure heaven.  Being in Bunny William’s chic but cozy world which I had so often admired was such a thrill. Mix that with the rustic, deep south décor and you get an appropriately elegant dinner setting. In keeping with her impeccable, perfectly appropriate style, dinner was a showcase of Lowcountry cuisine with shrimp and grits, short ribs and rum cake.

I was particularly lucky to have Rebecca Darwin, President of Garden & Gun magazine, as my table mate. What a lovely person who has a great story to share of how the magazine, a quickly growing Southern staple, came to be.  On my other side was Rebecca’s childhood friend, Liz O’Connor who shared an equally great story of how Rebecca came to be.  And to complete the night, a colorful toast was raised by my favorite person in the world and regular Garden & Gun contributor, Julia Reed.

Thanks Garden & Gun for inviting me to dinner and giving me a big “hug” from home.