Archive for ‘Gardening’

May 22, 2013

Supermarket Magazine Analysis — Food For Thought !

by Teréza Eliasz-Solomon (HeiressMommy™)

food_for_thoughtI have a firm and absolute rule about the magazines in check out lines at Supermarkets – that is no one who shops for me [not family, friend or employee person] can relay tabloid information to me or in my company that was culled from a shopping excursion.  I do not read nor am I ever tempted by the salacious cheap offerings that one is forced to stare at while waiting to pay for purchases. Now I have a valid analysis of what type of clientele a certain or other market caters to according to check out material and of course, it is simple business structure that denotes such choices … you know how it goes – you stock what will sell. Still, I find it REALLY interesting that the food stuff, other products and magazines line up so nicely to express who shops where.

It is true – I admit it – there are areas of life where one could say I am a snob. By which I mean demanding of certain standards and quality. Nothing wrong with this in my opinion as it takes only an understanding and appreciation of things to gain such sensibilities. Obviously, funds are needed to acquire many of the things that are best made but here too a sense of REAL value must prevail. One of the struggling issues of our times – something our amazing First Lady Michelle Obama has addressed in her Let’s Move initiative – is that  poorer communities have no REAL access to organic and fresh food;  fast food being cheaper and more readily available to fill a family’s caloric requirements than fresh produce and healthy protein items has left our society overweight and in poor health.

Seems simple and apparent to me through the evidence that our society is being further segregated through the Supermarket offerings of food, other products and yes magazine offerings at the checkout. Without a doubt the well heeled among us always had opportunities for finer dining experiences and such – the difference is others could still eat healthy and with a little effort read that which their wealthier and more educated brethren were privy to on a daily basis. I love capitalism but the the base profit margin standard is enforcing a no holding back attitude as to what and where offerings of products and information are made available … want to be offended, well may I suggest that some corporate office type is even as you read this discussing how “those people” will only buy such  and such, so why bother stocking the better of what we make or sell in their neighborhood. Now a truism is REAL that some self motivation to read better material, eat healthier food and such is at play here – however, not everyone has the impetus or where for all to step away from the easy into the more beneficial options. Is not the goal of a great nation like America to lift the masses through equality – does not this include informing and allowing purview to greater things? Whose responsibility is creating such a Utopia? I think the answer is elected officials in part and also the companies – including and maybe especially news outlets – to prod, instruct, inspire and direct ALL toward betterment.

All right now – back to the magazines. In the better markets, like my beloved Whole Foods and other like minded stores there are Bon Appetit, Architectural Digest, Yoga this and that, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Fortune, Forbes and a plethora of local upscale ___ Today – depending on the best close by neighborhoods. Why even the better newspapers are frequently sold – my favorite New York Times and Wall Street Journal for instance. Conversely at the less quality oriented markets, one finds tabloids galore – The Sun, The Enquirer, Star and occasionally People or US. Now you tell me – is this not simple Finance 101 in that they sell what will sell to who they think buys in their place of business … again I say nothing wrong with that, except the resulting delineation and further class alienation among our citizenry. My very well read and erudite parents often bemoaned this scenario – they explained that at one time the cab driver and the doctor or lawyer in a town read pretty much the same newspaper, heard on radio or saw on television almost the exact same reports and sure the better educated and motivated family – like my own – made it a must to read and hear/view beyond the standard venues. Yet all were given opportunity to know the same REAL facts and as such, their children too. Sadly, not the current societal norm – we are divided into not only the income haves and have-nots but the nutritional and intellectual advantaged and disadvantaged. Troublesome and dangerous I tell you – this has and will further lead to eventual irreparable divisions in this country and throughout the world. The one bright light – although it too seems to be more and more divided – is social media. My prayer and REAL hope is that Facebook and Twitter, et al. will force a communal sharing of the better for ALL!

P.S. In my year (2013) end memoir, Heiress Mommy … A Modern Super Woman Life! I will share the REAL plan that my husband and I are working on to purchase his beloved paternal grandmother, Walerya’s, Michigan farm and turn it into a cooperative community food center and agricultural/nutrition teaching venue for inner city Detroit and other local youths and their families … this will be one part of our soon to be established Eliasz-Solomon Family Foundation.

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July 28, 2012

Le Petit Trianon And Why Architecture DOES Matter!

by Teréza Eliasz-Solomon (HeiressMommy™)

Un endroit tres special … toi seul –  For Queen Marie Antoinette that was Le Petit Trianon and for others no more than a small room or alcove. No matter the style, location or size a special place that one can call their own seems as important to happiness as love. It seems that the French Queen was in that sense very much the same as anyone else in needing and seeking that sort of  joy and security. In that pursuit she embraced and redesigned extensively the Versailles addition that was originally designed as a gift for Louis XV’s maitresse-en-titre, Madame de Pompadour, who died before its completion and so it was subsequently given to her successor, the most famous French mistress, Madame du Barry. It was the  following French King, Louis XVI who gave Le Petit Trianon to his teenage Queen whose legacy has been defined by both truths and misrepresentations. In fact, Le Petit Trianon was criticized by her French peers as being too foreign – often being called “Little Vienna” or “Little Schonbrunn” – a reference to her powerful mother, the only female ruler of the Hapsburg dynasty, Maria Theresia‘s palace – where Marie Antoinette herself was born. As history informs us, Marie Antoinette was both loved and despised during her life – thus finding both a place for celebration and solace in her beloved  Petit Trianon. [By the way, during my visits to France I visited all of Versailles – including Petit Trianon and more … I will detail this and more of my travels, including photos,  in upcoming blog posts and my now REALLY soon book: Heiress Mommy … A Modern Super Woman Life!].  There are American Castles – places of grandeur designed as testimony to great wealth achieved mostly during America’s Gilded Age – I have visited many, including Newport’s famed The Breakers and Vizcaya in Miami. For myself, it began with my own childhood playroom and later a study that was my singular separate space and then of course as an adult my own homes provided more special areas I considered important – a gym, a garden or private dressing area. My husband and I recently have become able to look forward to being multi residential  – both of us are thrilled and full of wonderful anticipation at the prospect of working with architects and designers to create special unique spaces for each of us and our children. In each life – no matter where in this world – there is a necessitous impetus to create or find that area where comfort,  security and peace can be experienced. The task at hand has been and is ever more to make public and private places that every citizen has access to in order to achieve a balanced life to whatever extent possible.

I often reference all my parents taught and gave me in my blog posts – again, I must acknowledge their teaching that one should take full advantage of public spaces – making an effort to see and experience museums, parks, public libraries and all venues available wherever one lives or visits. I too want my children to make a conscious effort to seek out places of both grandeur and simplicity. For some there is no personal directive toward this lesson but it none the less should be, if not intrinsically known, then taught via public service outreach and/or through education [in schools, etc.]. We must provide public spaces – which serve as social gathering places. Throughout history into current modernity there have been parks, town centers and squares that afforded populations a place to congregate and more – often serving as markets, meeting venues and places of both worship and justice [or lack there of] and  punishment. The suburbs, unlike cities have not provided many gathering public or communal spaces … grant it quite a few are near parks but the very act of needing to drive for access denies the basic intent – that is to dwell freely in a shared area with neighbors or simply to easily seek solitary refuge. Rural areas provide, while not as plentiful as cities, meeting places on account of the basic need to join with others in common spaces – living far apart almost demands a town hall, a fairground or place of worship to gather. Of course, city, suburb or farm/ranch the new town square is social media – while to some extent a place of shared experience or reprieve from others, the internet is not architecture and therefore provides nothing to soothe the soul or attend to our other senses. Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention that my husband and I take great advantage of the internet in pursuit of homes, vacations, design, etc. – there is without a doubt the most amazing access to all the world’s beauty, art and architecture via the internet. The problem lies in that being the only and singular outlet for some – whether by choice or circumstance. To never walk through a museum, sit in a public park, stroll around a town square or trek through a national preserve is to be denied a human basic experience – the outdoors and the interior places created by joined human effort are equally important venues that are almost a biological imperative to sustain life. We have seen people flock to common spaces for triumph celebrations like national holidays and also to share in tragedies like 9/11 – this need appears to be intrinsic and almost part of our DNA. Vigilance must be maintained to how and why and where architecture can make a difference in all lives.

For some time it has been an accepted fact that hospital design affects a patient’s health – not just the obvious cleanliness and well placed equipment/safety consideration but also the colors, furniture styles and art placement can contribute to or detract from the overall outcome of an individual’s hospital stay. There are also the staff and families and friends visiting that can benefit from the architecture of a medical center. Another important  architecture issue is schools – studies have shown that learning is more easily done in well designed areas and less strife and disruption among students is noted when a school is not only efficiently laid out but is attractive and in tune with all the senses. Teachers are equally affected and have expressed an ability to demonstrate more patience and energy in their dealings with students when the building/their work place is attractive and healthy.  Sadly, public schools are falling victim, like most municipality financed venues, to budget cuts these days – penny wise and dollar foolish for sure as how and where our children learn is paramount to a successful future., Why should only those of us whose children can financially afford private school have a learning atmosphere that promotes achievement? Yes, it is true – as I am so often reminded by skeptics – that in the “old days” many of our most prominent U.S. and world citizens schooled in less than attractive buildings [to say the least]. As my wise Mother was fond of stating – there were no really “good old days” just old days gone by … those much championed and incorrectly remembered halcyon days were also full of segregated and bland places of public education. Granted some students rose above and achieved greatness – most probably [as is often cited in memoirs and biographies] on account of family, clergy or a special teacher or maybe even something uniquely internal gave that person an advantage despite the surroundings where they went to school. Today is different and it is imperative that everything possible be done to architecturally design places of learning that are stimulating, healthy and attractive.

Major cities in the Unites States and other countries are now creating well designed and attractive affordable public and subsidized housing  … major architects are getting involved in the effort to create better and healthy single living spaces for the financial disadvantaged citizenry among us. One plan has produced integrated and various  level income housing communities, while other initiatives have created buildings with the single goal of affordable small but well designed living units … all geared toward a better quality of life. The outcome has demonstrated not only a better result for inhabitants of these well designed  low income units but for the community in general –  legal, medical and sociology experts have studied and agreed that living in a better environment produces individuals more physically and mentally healthy and there is decreased crime and as such less cost/expense to others. Even public transportation throughout the world has been addressed by architects – the stations are now multiple purposed in many places, offering amenities and services, as well as a safer environment. There really is no part of human existence that can not be made better by design and that is why architecture really DOES matter – in many ways and for many reasons!!!

P.S. A previous blog about our Labarador, Princess Java Argus surely expressed how much we consider her family – as such the plan for our new residence is that she & the second Labrador we are planning to add to the Eliasz-Solomon family, Princess Kava Pompeii have their own separate home [not dog house] with full amenities for times when parties or chaos make it uncomfortable or unsafe for pooches to be in main house …so, it goes without saying, we take architecture seriously!!!

July 7, 2012

Why The Library Is The Most Important Room In Any Home … No Matter Size or Location!!!

by Teréza Eliasz-Solomon (HeiressMommy™)

Most of my childhood photos have me not holding a doll but instead a book of some sort. Books and reading are in my DNA: My very literate father read continuously – sharing scheduled book events with his children and grandchildren – like the summer he and I each tackled Tolstoy’s War and Peace [again]. My clever Mother suggested that if one could not be content alone in a pleasant room, with a good cup of tea and a marvelous book, then one could never truly be a happy person. Both my parents and especially my mother was hesitant to let her children [me] play at the homes of friends where there were no books or newspapers …she found the non readers too unseemly.  I have been that sort of parent as well – in fact, my husband and I packed the hospital bag for delivery of our twin sons with a book that each of us had chosen to read to them in hospital when only a day or two old.  BOOKS = FREEDOM = KNOWLEDGE = LOVE = FAITH = ETERNITY!!!

When looking for new homes or deciding to build my husband and I immediately knew that a library was to be a most important and an absolutely must have part of our family realm. We have driven realtors, architects, interior designers and decorators to near madness with our home library demands – even the twin’s nursery and playroom were to have a small library section or space for their infant and childhood book collections. Being Jewish, a standard baby shower was not culturally acceptable [a bit of superstition] but my wonderful close gal pals insisted on a small fete/intimate gathering …when asked for any gift preference, I requested that each contribute a book or two, inscribed with their names and wishes for my soon to be baby boys [being book  junkies themselves and darlings – my sweet lady friends obliged].

We are minimal TV viewers in our home and except for our now three year old Labrador, Princess Java Argus [yes Odysseus dog’s name] – I do not permit anyone [our children] any TV viewing under three years old. I mention this because not watching a great deal of TV allows one and maybe even forces an individual to read. Grant it – our homes and cars have the nearly constant companion of NPR/BBC radio and music but audio does not interfere with reading in any way or form. Our family plans now that we are new parents [twin boys, with possibility of more]  is to have themed vacations – along with visiting each continent, national parks and all major monuments – we are determined that we and our children travel to ALL the great libraries of the world. My husband and I are determined that our children visit their own home libraries daily – no matter the size or design or location, I believe everyone should have that as a destination place in their home as well.

Books and periodicals, newspapers and magazines can teach, instruct, enlighten, educate, inspire, heal – everything about life can be read somewhere. Books are companions without need of flattery – the attention demanded by the written word is subject only to our own desires and needs. No economic status or level of education should dictate the love of books nor the ability to obtain them …tragically, here in the United States there is an effort to denote those of us who love books as elitist and even more troubling is the decision by many U.S. cities and boroughs to close libraries. Who has not heard an interview with a successful individual who is convinced only the public library of their youth saved them from a life of ruin – are we now going to eliminate the venue in some cases singularly affordable for those seeking to read and learn? Our Founders feared an illiterate citizenry – in fact Franklin, Jefferson and others wrote and designed libraries and schools. This past month my beloved NPR  ran a series “An Informed Republic” that details the Founders concerns about “mobs” being uneducated and thus unable to perform as a democratic involved  nation.

My hope for my 2013 book “Heiress Mommy” and any future books either I or my husband, Chester M. Eliasz-Solomon write is that each sits on whatever shelf, stool, box, ledge or even floor of someone’s residence – luring them to enjoy, learn, be inspired and comforted by the words!

P.S. Being bibliophiles is quite costly for my family – we so love to own each and every tome that strikes us as interesting. Indeed both my husband and I have night stands piled high with reading material ..proud to say each of us finishes two or three and sometimes even four books a week, along with an eclectic group of daily/weekly newspapers, periodicals and online material. Following is my own [ those I have read/am reading May to September] Summer 2012 MUST read book list ( I have grouped by category/genre). Enjoy!!!

 I. Women Leaders Biographical Genre [looking for guidance for my own new roles]:

II.  All Things French  [preparation for the year we plan to live in France with our children before full time school begins]:

III. Politics/History

IV. ALL Books by Nora Ephron

V. Books by Frances Osborne

VI. Novels

VII. For us writers – a handy guide:

VIII. For my new “dynastic” role:

IX. Health and Exercise [because it ALL matters]

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Oh yes, I was going to re-read  two wonderful books by Gregory Maguire :

… but those are  much too close to home as we still have those nasty miscreants we need to deal with [more details in my own book:  Heiress Mommy, 2013].

P.S.  This post is dedicated to dear supportive “goddess” gal pal, Anna B. – my confidant & book store companion, with deep love!!!

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