Meet Anna Bern, my latest object of lifestyle envy. This ex-Vogue and W magazine staffer forsook the urban jungle for Narrowsburg, New York (population 414), a tiny hamlet in the Upper Delaware River Valley, and promptly opened a home and accessories boutique called Nest.
I stumbled upon the store on a recent trip upstate, and went into a kind of retail frenzy over all the merchandise-exquisite artisan goods and handmade finds sourced by Bern on her twice-yearly trips to her native Brazil. Banana-leaf placemats, straw hats and clutches, beach-ready tunics, plus this sick cowhide chair:
The entire 1,700-square-foot space makes me want to overhaul my entire aesthetic for Bern's insouciant Ipanema style. Note: Narrowsburg itself has gotten a fair amount of buzz lately; it's an idyllic little weekend destination in the making. Watch this space.
15 Main St., Narrowsburg, NY; 845/252-3424; nest-store.com.
Irene Edwards is a special projects editor for Travel + Leisure.
Photo courtesy of Anna Bern
When Simon Majumdar found himself in the throes of a midlife crisis, he didn’t surrender himself to trite clichés—no sports car or twentysomething girlfriend for him. Instead, the fanatical foodie quit his job and embarked on an expedition designed around one tasty mission: “Go everywhere, eat everything.”
The results of this 12-month, 30-nation gastronomic escapade are delectably chronicled in Eat My Globe: One Year to Go Everywhere and Eat Everything (Free Press, $26), out May 19. Half Welsh and half Bengali, Majumdar grew up in a household where diverse flavors were the norm and food reigned supreme. “To say that our family was obsessed with what we ate would be like saying J.K. Rowling is comfortably well off,” he writes. “Food was not just fuel to keep the plump bodies of the Majumdar clan going. It was the very essence of who we were.”
Sandwiched between two Rag & Bone shops on Christopher Street in NYC sits a silver of a shop with a treasure trove of bags that don’t scream “It Bag” but softly whisper, “must have.” MZ Wallace’s new West Village store—with salvaged driftwood, large plank floors and art terrariums made by Paula Hayes—opened in March ’09, and is the second in New York City.
Celebrating its 10-year anniversary, MZ Wallace has hit its stride with irresistible nylon bags (everything goes over the shoulder), as well as overnight bags and purses made from raffia and leather ($255-$425). If you take the plunge and transfer the contents from your pre-recession companion, I promise you will not go back. The nylon bags are the best and are so light you can easily run from Hudson News to your gate at JFK without feeling like you have a small child on your shoulder.
Mimi Lombardo is the fashion director of Travel + Leisure.
Photos courtesy of MZ Wallace
Who wouldn't love a high-tech innovation that involves a low-tech suction cup? A product called iFlyz ($29.95), which bills itself as "your in-flight personal media solution," clamps onto airplane meal trays and holds your iPod, iPhone, or hand-held device for easy access.
The (patented) suction cup clamp, at the end of a gooseneck stem, attaches to the back of your gadget, holding it upright in front of you for easy viewing--and works whether the tray table is up, or down. You'll be the envy of all the passengers who are trying to prop their iPods into stable positions on a folded copy of SkyMall.
Here's my million-dollar, slightly derivative, idea: You know those neck-brace harmonica holders that Bob Dylan uses?Solder a suction cup on one and sell it to the people looking at their iPhones while walking down the street. Interested investors, please contact me at travelandleisure.com.
Ann Shields is an online senior editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photo courtesy of iFlyz
Here it sits, looking chic in its nylon python-printed glory. I'm full of hope that this stylish new carry-on will save my back--and transform my trips on jam-packed airplanes. "The Voyageur" by Tumi ($495) is supposedly lighter than traditional models: It weights in at 7 pounds and is 20 inches long, with two inches of expandable potential for the return trip--when I inevitably have more to pack than what I arrived with.
This new design will certainly appease my style Jones, and it actually starts off pretty light. Now, if I can just limit its contents, I might be able to lift it in the overhead compartment without asking for help. Available soon at Tumi.com.
Photo courtesy of Tumi
Judging from the hyacinths on my windowsill—fragrant and fresh not so long ago, but now defeated and dying—I am the very opposite of a green thumb. And yet: garden shops make me happier than almost anything in the world. The latest crop of nurseries seems to speak to people like me, who hesitate to call themselves “gardeners” yet feel compelled to surround themselves with beauty.
More Domino magazine than Fine Gardening, these shops are all about celebrating the outdoor lifestyle. So in honor of spring and the budding trees outside my window (just beyond my wilting hyacinths), here are my three all-time favorites.
The ne plus ultra of modern garden shops has to be the U.K.’s Petersham Nurseries (above), in Richmond Surrey (a quick train ride from London). This place is wonderfully bucolic, and also wickedly chic. Greenhouses and an exuberant cutting garden are interspersed with vignettes of antique outdoor furnishings and accessories; there are linen ribbons and napkins, beeswax candles, eco cleaning products, even photogenic balls of twine. Of course, there’s also chef Skye Gyngell’s Petersham Nurseries Café, where diners sit in a kind of artistic shed and feast on garden-fresh produce off zinc-topped tables. (This image is from an event for artist Cy Twombly.) New for spring: seasonal classes from their Urban Gardening School, including the flower-arranging workshop on May 12th. (Off Petersham Road, Richmond Surrey, U.K.; 44-20/8940-5230; petershamnurseries.com)
San Francisco’s Flora Grubb Gardens is so infused with the energy of its owner—the bewitchingly named Ms. Grubb, seen here, below—that you’ll immediately want to quit your job and move to the West Coast and devote yourself to the outdoors.
Her specialties are palms and succulents, and she’s created a magical little oasis on the industrial outskirts of town. (Bonus: an on-site Ritual Coffee Roasters café, a Bay Area cult favorite with a seriously potent brew.) Love the sexy Concreteworks lounge chairs seen above in the foreground—the perfect complement to Flora’s modern, multilayered aesthetic. (1634 Jerrold Ave., San Francisco; 415/626-7256; floragrubb.com)
Finally, from the folks who brought you Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie (!), there’s Terrain at Styers. The 11-acre store brings the whole West Coast indoor-outdoor thing to the Philadelphia suburb of Glen Mills: that means lots of reclaimed wood and antique vessels, plus a café in an antique greenhouse. This may not be the cheapest place to shop for plants or a pruner—but for sheer lifestyle inspiration, it’s in a class of its own. (914 Baltimore Pike, Glen Mills, PA; 610/459-2400; terrainathome.com)
Irene Edwards is the Special Project Editor at Travel+Leisure.