Author Archives: writedesigner

About writedesigner

Graphic designer, writer, and gardener Ellen Shapiro is based in Irvington, New York. A frequent contributor to design blogs and magazines including Print, Imprint, Salon.com, Communication Arts, and Etapes, she writes about trends, issues and personalities in design, illustration, photography, and visual culture around the world.

A Visit to the Philadelphia Flower Show

The theme of this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show, which runs through Sunday, is ARTiculture. Art museums, including the Guggenheim, the Getty, and the Smithsonian, have teamed up to produce spectacular exhibits. The show is crowded, commercial, expensive ($32 per ticket … Continue reading

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The SNAP Challenge, Day 5 (and what I learned)

Yesterday was leftovers day. Breakfast, store-brand rice crispies with half a banana; lunch, leftover tuna pasta salad and an apple; dinner, leftover rigatoni with meat sauce and sautéed escarole on the side. After another rice crispies breakfast this morning—my last … Continue reading

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The SNAP Challenge, Day 4

Two days to go and I’m out of fresh vegetables and fruit. Day 4 Breakfast: Store-brand rice crispies with soy milk. Canned pears. Day 4 Lunch: Scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, whole-wheat toast. Tomato soup made by blending the contents of … Continue reading

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The Snap Challenge, Day 3

The headline in today’s business section is “Twitter Prepares to Feed New Hunger for IPO’s.” My thoughts are about different kind of hunger, that of the millions of Americans who have to feed themselves for less than $5 a day … Continue reading

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The SNAP Challenge, Day 2

So far, this is fun. I’m realizing how much money we waste on name-brand food. With a few exceptions, lower-cost products, prepared well, taste just as good. As a design journalist I’ve done several articles on food packaging. And the … Continue reading

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Taking The SNAP Challenge, Day 1

Can two people eat for five days for less than $50? SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. The SNAP Challenge is a nationwide program during October, “Hunger Awareness Month,” that encourages participants to experience … Continue reading

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Fifth Avenue Vest Pocket Gardens

Yesterday, late afternoon. A walk down Fifth Avenue between a museum visit on 84th Street and a design lecture on 64th Street. Twenty blocks of glorious little gardens. A tiny plot around a street tree. Strips no wider than 9 … Continue reading

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Straw Bale Gardens

Last week I visited friends in Huntington, New York, where we enjoyed a vegetarian potluck while listening to the gentle waves of Long Island Sound lapping on the shore of a small private beach. “Do you know anything about straw … Continue reading

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A Big Fish Story

Tuesday was family day at the beach, Tiana Beach on the stretch of Dune Road between Westhampton Beach and the end of the road. The weather was perfect, the beach was uncrowded, and the water was fine. Where to have … Continue reading

Posted in Dining In and Out, The Hamptons, Travel-USA Northeast | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gone to Pot

All kinds of interesting plants are growing in pots on the deck. Many of them are here via Kent Russell, “The Garden Guru,” who spoke at a Garden Club of Irvington meeting in April. He brought a truckload of container … Continue reading

Posted in Horticulture, In My Garden, What's Blooming Now | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Edible Gardening for Dummies

1. Get weekend house (otherwise known as husband’s rabbinical parsonage) with weedy front stoop and small but very sunny back deck. 2. Go to 99-cent store and buy a few seed packets and a bag of potting soil. Find and … Continue reading

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Finally!

This morning, last night’s light dusting of snow melts to reveal the season’s first crocuses poking through. Finally!

Posted in In My Garden, What's Blooming Now | Tagged | Leave a comment

I’m Dreaming of a White… Spring

Although there’s still snow on the ground here, it’s almost time to start thinking about new shoots that will soon be poking their way through the earth into the early spring sunlight. My friend, photographer Rebecca Swanson, photographed these beauties … Continue reading

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The Blank Canvas

Last summer, my husband Julius Rabinowitz accepted the position of spiritual leader at Beth Jacob Synagogue in Norwich, Connecticut. Mazal tov! It’s been a busy and challenging few months. Norwich, I wondered, when he first told me about the offer, … Continue reading

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The Healing Power of Art

My friend, the painter Leona Frank, of  Westport, CT, writes: “I want to share some exciting news with you. I learned on Thanksgiving that five of my flower paintings will be acquired by Bridgeport Hospital (Yale New Haven Hospital) for … Continue reading

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The Way to See — and Live with — Art

At The Salon: Art+Design at the Park Avenue Armory last week, more than 50 galleries from around the world—mostly from France—presented room settings with beautifully arranged  furniture, sculpture, paintings and drawings, lighting, mirrors, books, jewelry. This is the way to … Continue reading

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God Is In the Details

Was today the most colorful day of the year, or was it yesterday? Or maybe it will be tomorrow. It’s the season of clean-up (especially after Hurricane Sandy), and noticing the miraculous details—seed heads and the last blossoms among the … Continue reading

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Tuteurs, Obelisks and Obsessions

A field trip on a drizzly day last spring to the Cloisters Museum and Gardens in Upper Manhattan has kept me busy all summer. The Cloisters, devoted to the art and architecture of Medieval Europe, is surrounded by walled gardens … Continue reading

Posted in Garden Design Projects, Horticulture, In My Garden, What's Blooming Now | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Garden Party in The Hamptons

A beautiful Saturday evening in late summer, a lovely setting, reflections in the pool, a sunset over the water, clinking wine glasses, and good conversation. In the Hamptons, a region noted for spectacular gardens, this was a garden to remember, … Continue reading

Posted in Beach houses, Conservation, Garden Photography, Horticulture, Private Gardens, The Hamptons, Travel-USA Northeast | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Berkshire Botanical Garden—a Painterly View

In West Stockbridge, MA, the Berkshire Botanical Garden—a short distance from the Norman Rockwell Museum, Chesterwood, and other attractions—beckons. The entry garden is one of the most glorious mixed borders anywhere (and where I first saw and fell in love … Continue reading

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