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Rural Rules of Life: Twenty Questions for “FLIP! For Decorating” Author Elizabeth Mayhew

Since she was a teenager, Elizabeth Mayhew, who hails from Louisville, KY, has been spending time in Millbrook, NY, where she came for New Year’s Eve in 1984 to visit her Middlesex School classmate and future husband, Timothy, whom she married in 1993 when they were both 24. During the week, the Mayhews live with their daughter, Madeleine, 12, and son, Charlie, 9, in a classic pre-war apartment on West End Avenue, which is featured in Mayhew’s new book, FLIP! For Decorating (which you can get a feel for in the slide show above).  If you watch the Today show, you probably recognize Elizabeth who started appearing on the program when she was the style director of Real Simple magazine and continues to contribute segments on cooking, organizing, and decorating. Mayhew, who spends most weekends at her house in Millbrook, will at the Merritt Bookstore on Saturday, April 18, from 11 AM to 1 PM, to sign copies of her book, which The New York Times said is “is extremely satisfying, like watching a stop-action film, and very, very useful.”  As opinionated as she is effervescent, Mayhew gamely agreed to answer 20 Questions for Rural Intelligence.

Rural Intelligence Style 1. Where do you go when you crave solitude?

I very rarely crave solitude—I much prefer having lots of people around! On rainy or very cold days, my favorite thing is to curl up in bed with a good book or a good classic movie on TCM. I am very thankful to finally have cable in the country!

2. Where do you go when you crave buzz?

We go to Millbrook to escape buzz! Most of our social time centers around our kids. I love hanging out on Saturday mornings in the spring on the soccer fields at Dutchess Day School —Nigel Pink runs a great kids’ program that begins just as the trees start to bloom (this Saturday is opening day). The kids have a great time and the parents are all so happy to see one another after the long winter hibernation. One could liken the mood on the soccer field to more of a cocktail party—with coffee instead of martinis.

Rural Intelligence Arts3. What’s your favorite library and/or bookstore?

I love the Millbrook Children’s Library. It is a great place to take kids especially on rainy days. I frequent Merritt in Millbrook,  and I love Johnnycake Books in Salisbury, CT.

4. What’s you favorite place for bargain hunting?

Sounds crazy, but I love Target. We don’t have one in Manhattan so I make occasional trips to Poughkeepsie. I also love checking out the tag sales; there is one regular sale on Route 44 between Amenia and Millbrook.

Rural Intelligence Style5. What do you buy for yourself when you need a treat and want to splurge?

I buy plants or flowers for my garden. I love Paley’s on Route 22. Once in a while I make a special trip to the anemone farm in Red Hook. Also I would drive hours to buy bread from Rock Hill Bakehouse. The bakery is in Gansevoort, NY but you can buy it at McEnroe’s, Paley’s or Adams. My favorite is there 8 Grain bread—somehow that one extra grain makes all the difference. The bread is so good that I mail it to my parents in Florida.

6. What’s your favorite way to spend a Friday night?

Friday nights we are usually driving up from the city. The best scenario is that we leave early enough to have dinner at Puerta Azul on Route 44. We love the food, especially the guacamole made fresh table side and the live music.

7. What’s your favorite way to spend a Sunday morning?

In my garden with a cup of coffee and a shovel.

8. What’s your favorite one-hour drive from your house?

To any part of Lenox, MA

Rural Intelligence Issues 9. What’s your favorite historical site?

Edith Wharton’s home, The Mount

10.  Where’s your favorite place to hear live music?

Not really high on our list, but we try to see the Eric Hill Band whenever he has a gig.

11.  Who do you trust to recommend wines?

Peter Morrell who has a house in the Millbrook area,  John Dyson who owns Millbrook Vineyards, David Bova who runs Millbrook Vineyards.

12.  What’s your favorite hardware store?

How about home store? Punch in Millbrook or Millerton, and Hammertown Barn in Pine Plains or Rhinebeck. I also love the Shekomeko General Store when it’s open.

Rural Intelligence Style13. Where do you shop for clothes?

There are only two places I buy clothes in the area:  J. McLaughlin on Route 44 and Citrus in Millbrook.

14.  What three things do you always do with out of town guests?

Go for a long walk in the woods to a picnic site that we built on top of a hill. Take them for a ride on our tractor. Give them a loaf of the best bread ever (see #5).

15.  Who are your local heroes?

Stephen Kaye. He is a gentleman farmer, who grows potatoes and raises beef for some of the best restaurants in New York. Plus he recently started a new local paper called the Independent (the local Round Table folded a few months ago).

16.  What newspapers, blogs or websites do you read every day? I look at NY and on weekends I read the Independent (see above) and Rural Intelligence of course!

Rural Intelligence Arts17. What’s your favorite theater?

The Moviehouse in Millerton—I’ll always remember seeing A Room With A View there.  I love that they serve hot tea, coffee, and biscotti.

18. How many Facebook friends do you have? How many them have you actually met?

I have around 400 Facebook friends and I know all of them.


Rural Intelligence Style19. Where’s your favorite place for breakfast?

The Millbrook Diner.

20. What five things are you most looking forward to do this summer?

Grilling outside at our picnic site, working in the garden, making a trip to Tanglewood, playing tennis, and attending the Annandale Troupe‘s summer camp Shakespeare performance ( my son is attending.)

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 04/16/09 at 10:48 AM • Permalink