Stacey Matthews

The Matthews Group wins Award for Number One Rental Team at William Raveis Real Estate

Stacey and Pels Matthews winning the Award for Number One Rental team Companywide at William Raveis Real Estate

Why not find your ideal summer rental from the team that has the top accolades for rentals in Litchfield County. The Matthews Group, known for their sales of  exceptional luxury homes in this area, are also known for the spectacular properties they list for rent. They offer summer retreats with many amenities that are the pefect country life paradise.

Here are a selection of wonderful summer rentals that are still available for the season.

James Taylor built It! This lovely five bedroom home in Washington has both provenance and unique country charm. There is a light-filled gourmet kitchen with cathedral ceilings that is perfect for summer entertaining.. A heated gunite pool featured below is in a beautiful buccolic setting. The property abuts the Steep Rock Land Trust. For more details and pricing, please click here.

Below is a Washington shingle-style home, a stunning country retreat on 10+/- private acres. A vaulted great room and chef's kitchen make this a wonderful interior space for entertaining. Some of the wonderful amenities include an exercise room, sauna, Har -Tru lighted tennis court and a heated pool/spa. The home is located in prestigious area near to Steep Rock hiking and close to the town center.

The Pool at the Washington Shingle-Style Home. For Pricing and more information, click here.

Historic Rock Gate Estate is the perfect property for a relaxing summer in the countryside. The carriage house is on the Washington Green, built in 1885 and designed by Ehrick Rossiter! There are 3/4 Bedrooms with 5 full baths. There is fabulous stone terrace off the back as well as a pool, barn and a private yard.

The Rock Gate Estate has Historic Architectural Details. For more images and pricing, click here.

This West Morris home has a unique rustic elegance with spacious, well-lit rooms. The interior is newly finished in a modern eclectic barn style with 5+ bedrooms, gourmet kitchen and light filled open floor plan. The house comfortably sleeps 14. The outdoors boasts a Gunite heated pool with cabana, a fire pit, stone terrace and access to the Bantam River.

The Kitchen is Spacious with Views of the Property from Every Window. For more details and pricing, click here.

Summer Camp for kids and adults! Below is a 5 bedroom main house plus a 2 bedroom guest house in A++ Washington location. There is a Gunite heated pool, a pond with boats/fishing, a media room with foos ball, In the barn, there is a climbing wall, basketball and ping pong and an extensive gym. Outdoors is a paddle ball court, play house, golf cart and an in ground trampoline. An expansive high end kitchen opens to a stone terrace with a BBQ.

The Pool Area. For Pricing and Details, Clcik here.

This Cozy rental is in the Warren estate area and near Lake Waramaug and the Hopkins Inn. There is a 3 bedroom main house and 3 bedroom guest house. The home is beautifully firnished and has an open kitchen layout, large foyer and a huge stone fireplace. Outdoors, there is a stone terrace with views, a large lawn, stone walls and a heated gunite pool.

The Pool is in a Stunning Setting. For more details and pricing, click here.

This modern barn style house on Nettleton Hollow has privacy with long views. The home has an open floor plan with 3 bedrooms including a 4 bed bunk room. A luxurious master suite is at opposite end of the house. A retractable glass walled dinning room for indoor/outdoor entertaining in any weather is a superb feature. There are xpansive views, lawn and open areas. What a superb country getaway!

The Dining Room with Spectacular Views. For more details and pricing, click here.

Uber Charm exudes from this sophisticated Bridgewater antique. The home is completely renovated with a 5 bedroom main house and a 2 bedroom guest house. Outdoors there is a heated gunite pool surrounded by all flat land abd impeccable gardens. The property is featured below.

Great Pool for Family Fun in the Summer. For rental details, click here.

There are breathtaking distant views from the Washington retreat seen below. The home has 5 Bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, a large country kitchen and open living space. Outdoors, there is a large deck. a 60 ft. pool, a barn with indoor basketball court and  a 2 car garage. A long private drive offers complete privacy in a top location. You can hike to Steep Rock Land Trust from the property.

What a Spectacular Country Setting around the Pool! For rental pricing, click here.

The all newly renovated house below has 5/6 bedrooms, 4.5 baths and a gourmet kitchen and is in an excellent location. There is an open floor plan, a dining room that seats 25 and a lovely screened porch. The property is minutes to the Mayflower Inn and Spa and all town amenities. The heated pool has a Jacuzzi. For family fun there is a game room with apool table, foos ball, xbox, tread mill and a rowing machine. All utilities are included in the rental price.

A Perfect Pool, A Perfect Spot for Summer Relaxation. For more images and rental details, click here.

We were very honored to win the number one rental team award and we look forward to helping you find the perfect rental this summer!

If you wish to look at all our rentals, please click here.



Copper Fern Terrariums to Brighten the Home in Winter

Succulent Air Plant with Sea Glass

The Copper Fern offers the most exquisite terrariums created by Audra M. Viehland. She makes each one unique by sourcing vintage and antique pieces as well as distinctive objects picked up during her travels. As featured in the photo above, Audra sometimes uses sea glass that she has collected over the years from the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana.

Globe with Succulents, Air Plant and Turquoise

All my friends know my passion for indoor plants and incorporating them into interior decoration. Each terrarium created by Audra is a stunning blend of nature and artistic design, perfect to brighten the home during the winter months.

Arrowhead Plant with Shell

Above is a closed terrarium, the first of which was developed by botanist Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward in 1842. While studying insects, he left a jar with plants overnight and the fern inside grew to be a beautiful plant. These plant decorations became popular in the Victorian Era and were called Wardian Cases at that time.

Succulents with Toy Car and Fool's Gold

Open terrariums are best suited to dry plants such as succulents as they keep the air free from excess moisture. These also work work well for plants that need direct sunlight.

Chinese Evergreen with Brass Buttons and Red Air Plant

Audra has wonderful insight into the appeal of keeping a terrarium in the home, " It brings a bit of nature indoors year-round. And similar to keeping a garden, house plants, or flower arranging, caring for a terrarium can be a simple way to de-stress."

Rosemary and Lavender Blooming Air Plant

Audra in Bologna

Audra takes custom orders and uses a variety of plants from succulents to ferns. She uses closed or open containers and has even incorporated a vessel provided by a customer. She brings her artistry and unique style to each and every terrarium.

For orders and inquiries about Copper Fern Terrariums, please email

Please note: All terrarium images are the work of Audra M. Viehland





Unlocking New Milford: Discover the Charm of this New England Town

On the western border of CT and nestled in the Housatonic Valley, the town of New Milford is often termed the “Gateway to Litchfield County”. Incorporated in 1712, the area is rich in history and was the original home of the Paugusett Native Americans who fished on the Aspetuck and Housatonic rivers still popular today with both residents and visitors. The town was active during the American Revolution and became a business hub for industries including buttons, furniture, pottery lime and tobacco in the 19th and 20th centuries. New Milford is actually the largest town by area in the state at approximately 64 square miles and includes the communities of Merryall, Northville and Gaylordsville.

Today, the town has blossomed with a variety of unique restaurants, artisanal gourmet shops, specialty boutiques for adults and children, galleries and more… Most people think of New Milford as the place to go for the big box retailers, you know the store you want close but not too close. However, there are lots of special places in New Milford. Here is a sampling of the businesses I love to frequent.

Poached Pear Salad at Lucia's Restaurant

Whether it is authentic Italian cuisine, gourmet Paninis, organic farm to table fare or Thai exquisitely spiced food, New Milford offers a wide range of dining choices. Lucia Ristorante, which was featured in the New York Times, has exceptional dishes that feature homemade pastas including pappardelle, spaghetti and cavatelli. Chef and owner, Antonio Caldaria delivers unmatched flavor with his Gnocchi Piemontese with prosciutto, fresh peas and mushrooms in a pink champagne sauce. Tonio’s Panino is not your average sandwich shop with wonderful vegetarian, chicken and meatball parmesan paninis as well as an amazing caprese sandwich with fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato. Buon Appetito to all!

The Menu Board at Tonio's Panino

Farm Fresh Food at The Green Granary

If you lean towards organic fare, visit Epicuria located at the garden center ‘The Green Spot’. Epicuria has a variety of healthy salads and sandwiches as well as their renowned chocolate covered strawberry smoothie. You can eat al fresco in a sumptuous garden while the weather is warm. Epicuria is a gourmet take out and catering business as well. The Green Granary on Railroad St is an organic, non-gmo and sustainable café with a mission of farm to table food. Try their vegetarian, western or avocado omelettes, all made with organic eggs. Yum! They have outstanding chocolate chip cookies and this is my favorite food group! I am a chic chocolate chip cookie connoisseur (friends who know this send me cookies from all over the world). If you crave aromatic, exquisitely spiced food, don’t miss Thai Charm where they make a luxurious Tom Yum Goong soup and red, green and panang curries with your choice of chicken, beef, vegetable or shrimp.

Thai Charm Dinner with Aromatic Spices

There is much more to tempt your palette at the specialty food stores, cooking schools and premier caterers In New Milford. At Villarina’s pasta there are a host of homemade pastas and you can pick out Italian sauces such as porcini, puttanesca and walnut pesto to pair with them. The have great prepared garlic bread you just pop in the oven and wonderful frozen lasagnas. The Silo, as part of the Hunt Hill Farm offers a variety of cooking classes throughout the year. Upcoming is a Junior Bakers session on October 12th and ‘How to Make a Sublime Vegetarian Meal’ on October 16th. If you want to leave it to the experts and have your dinner party or event catered, Executive Cuisine has a full complement of dinners, hors d’oeuvres and succulent desserts. Sesame & wasabi crusted tuna skewers, garlicky lamb kebobs with tahini and lemon panna cotta with fresh fruit were recently served at interior designer’s event.

Villarina's Homemade Past Sauces

A Delectable Table from Executive Cuisine

An interesting array of boutiques for adults and children can be found in New Milford. Two delightful children’s toy stores, Nordica and Play, are definitely worth a visit and not just for birthday presents! Another great family activity is a visit to Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market which is held every Sunday through November 29th from 7 am to 2 pm. You can look at vintage clothing while the kids can check out the toy collectibles.

Games, Puzzles and More at Nordica Toy Store

A Wonderful Selection at Play Toy Store

Swank on Bank, a fashion boutique, located on Bank Street directly across from the movie theater, has one-of-a-kind apparel, jewelry and accessories. , I love the super soft cotton tee shirts! After shopping, Joe’s Salon is a great place for a blow dry, color or cut. They were voted one of the top 200 salons in the US by Salon Today. They also have an excellent spa for facials and massages.

Chic Denim Vests at Swank on Bank

An Open, Airy Interior at Joe's Salon

Across the street from Joe’s Salon is the Harts Art Galley which recently opened and exhibits mixed media, paintings and photography. Their new show, entitled ‘She’s a Changeling ‘opens October 3rd. If you take a stroll around the corner, have a look at the newly renovated and restored United Bank building which is now called 19 Main. It will be a rental space for weddings and other events starting with an upcoming wine tasting.

Photography by Evan Abramson at Harts Gallery

The United Bank Building is now 19 Main

I am thrilled to ‘unlock’ some of the treasures in New Milford. Try them for yourself and let us know your thoughts in the comments box. All the businesses mentioned are linked to their websites so you can view directions and contact information.



The Allure of Leitz Luxury Accessories

Exquisite Pink Leather Handbag

"It's not what you spend but how you wear it that counts. The key is often to dress up inexpensive basics with accessories. Something like a beautiful designer bag or belt can make everything else look richer and more luxurious."
Chloe Sevigny

Those words ring true for any of us lucky enough to have discovered the amazing leather collections of Washington-based husband and wife team Sherry and Eric Leitz. Their stunning pieces meld a little bit of rock n roll style with luxurious materials and design. As a team they started making by hand one-of-a-kind vintage studded belts and cuffs out of their NYC apartment. What started as a hobby has now turned into a full time business which they run out of their home in the country. Their current collections include handbags, wine carriers, bracelets, belts and other distinctive accessories for men, women and children.

The secret is out and this Friday and Saturday you can shop these collections at KMR Arts, 2 Titus Road, Washington Depot, CT 06794. This not to be missed 'Pop Up' Shop will take place Friday, August 28th 11 am- 5 pm and Saturday, August 29th, 11 am- 5 pm.

Eric and Sherry Leitz

Eric Leitz is an FIT Graduate who started his career with Giorgio Armani and went on to launch Ralph Lauren Purple Label Men's Clothing. He has dressed celebrities from the worlds of film, music and politics including Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Janet Jackson, Will Smith, Dustin Hoffman, Whitney Houston as well as Presidents George H.W. Bush and son George W. Bush among many others. Sherry Leitz explains that her role has been to "encourage, inspire and support my talented husband so his creativeness was able to flow and grow into this amazing leather business." Sherry brings her experience of being a custom clothier dressing high level executives in NYC to their company in addition to being a full time mother to their two beautiful children.

Leitz English Bridal Leather Wrap Bracelet available in double or triple wrap with gold or silver studs.

A Rich Selection of Colors can be found in the Handbag Collections

Oak bark tanned all natural English Bridal Leather Wine Totes in Single or Double Size. They are made to order and can be monogrammed with hot foil stamp.

Black bridal leather with gray interior and natural stitched handles

We asked Sherry what made the handbags so unique and beautiful:

"All of our handbags are completely made by hand using a single piece of leather by Eric here in Connecticut. We buy our hides from which the bags are made here in the U.S. All leather goods are dyed, painted, stained and saddle stitched by Erics own hands. They also can be personalized using real gold, copper or silver leaf foil."

Saddle Tan Custom Studded Handle Tote Bag with baby blue lining. Available in a variety of color combinations with gold or silver studs. 

I’m so happy to see Eric and Sherry using their vast retail experience towards launching their own brand. I have never seen another leather product like this that is truly HAND made, one at a time. I have several bags and absolutely love them. Just got the new pink one! Pels wears the bracelets and belts every day and we love to give the leather wine carriers as gifts.

Stop by on Friday or Saturday at KMR Arts to meet this talented couple and shop for your next fabulous accessory!

For more information, see below:

Instagram: LeitzLeather




Designer of the Month: Linda Zelenko of York Street Studio

Linda has been a friend and neighbor for many years. She has a great design sense and really understands luxury materials and products. She made my kitchen table (see below) which is truly my favorite piece of furniture. I am thankful for it every day. She can custom make anything. I have also enjoyed seeing her take a room that is blah and transform it with her chic touches into something special. The custom leather walls that they make are really astonishing.

Design is at the heart of York Street Studio. Concepts, visual narratives incorporating leather walls and other custom treatments, bold luxe accessories and hardware are all part of the company's exquisite design aesthetic. Linda continues this tradition of forward-thinking product development and pairs it with her extraordinary sense of style.

We recently had a chance to catch up with Linda to ask her about her work, background and design inspirations. Below is one of our favorite photographs of a York Street leather wall treatment. Talk about chic!

How would you describe your design style?

Intuitive modern sensibility with great attention to architectural details. In sleek contemporary spaces as well as in antiques filled environments, an aesthetic that mirrors today's lifestyles in a luxurious yet natural, subtle way is always the goal. With unusual juxtapositions of remarkable materials and textures, my design style in every project, from start to finish, provides a singular vision that encompasses the individual clients needs aesthetically from a functional point of view.

What are the most important elements in design?

Proportion, scale, materials and ight. The proportion of the room dictates the scale of everything and anything that comes in to the space...from architectural details to the scale of paneling.

Your Harry's Chair featured above has an interesting history, would you share it with us?

The chair we all call "Harry's chair" was designed by my father Harry in the mid 50's for my parent's design office.  There was a fire in that office (which had been featured in House and Garden) which forced them to move into the newly built Seagram's building. The chairs were reupholstered in the early 60's in the calf they are still covered in today and were located in my father's office. Those chairs made their way to Connecticut and have been in my dining for the past 20 years! I still produce the chair along with a version for outdoor use as seen below.

Your custom leather walls are the ultimate luxury, do you have a favorite installation that you have done?

All the leather room installations are the ultimate luxury, they take a tremendous amount of foresight and skill to produce. Some may have been more challenging or more intense to produce, like the octagonal leather man cave that was a spectacular project rendered by Stephen mostly or a recent man cave in LA.

As with most other artists and designers, we all have to keep moving forward with our vision and implementation of that idea. In looking ahead, over time, my process may become more refined combined with my approach. I have had to evolve to keep it alive, fresh, and innovative. The project I would reference as the ultimate luxury with the most innovative assembly is a hand stitched leather library I am working on now in Chicago.

Can you tell us a little bit about the background of York Street Studio?

York Street was established in Brooklyn in 1988 by Stephen Piscuskas, my late husband. We relocated to Litchfield County in the 1990's. York Street has always maintained making product here in the USA. York Street progressed from a fine craftsman wood shop to an established brand in high end home furnishings, lifestyle products and increasingly, luxury interiors. The transition began with the development of decorative hardware, leather tiles and selected pieces for production furniture derived from some of our most relevant custom work, the company's root. Having left my career as a footwear designer, we combined the woodworking with leather craftsmanship integrating and combining those techniques into architectural details. This led the company into developing products like leather tiles and leather rooms in libraries, man caves and powder rooms. Our projects span across the country. The goal for York Street is to continue collaborating with artists and craftsmen, keep developing new ideas and continue to stay as innovative as possible as we design new products and interiors

You attended the Rhode Island School of Design, what did your education there teach you that is relevant now?

Attending RISD was being among top tier talent on a day to day basis from students to faculty to the rawness that Providence had at that time. Being among that talent there was an endemic pressure to keep up and surpass, it was top tier problem solving and being able to communicate that message in drawing 2-D or 3-D format. Striving to do your absolute best, combined with honing the fundamentals and the key elements of design: scale, proportion, form follows function. The process was the key part of how we developed our concepts giving a strong foundation to generating lots of ideas and taking those concepts in any direction to finite solutions.

This approach and skill set works well for interiors and product development, if something does not work one way it can be worked out a different way, its about finding the solution either interpreting precisely what the client wants or collaborating with them to achieve what they are looking for.

When you design a room, where do you start and where do you finish?

The scale, the proportion, the light are the most important to assess. A room should be able to stand on its own and then one can build layers to create an in depth interior.

Is there an interesting current project that you would like to share with us?

We are presently completing an exceptional interiors project which encompasses the property formerly known as The Birches. This large scale private residence which faces Lake Waramug is a tremendously exciting project presenting many unique and extraordinary design opportunities that attune the York Street Studio aesthetic to the owners' lifestyle.

If you would like more information about Linda Zelenko and York Street Studio, please click here.







Designer of the Month: Susan Bednar Long

Our 'Designer of the Month' is Susan Bednar Long, Principal of S.B. Long Interiors. If you are planning a project, please check out her top quality work showcased in this post and on her website. Sue has been a great friend for over ten years and has one of the best design senses of anyone I know. I also really respect her ability to multi-task, nothing slips through the cracks with Sue in charge! In addition, I relish her blog posts, they always have great design ideas so everyone should subscribe to her blog!

Susan Bednar Long honed her distinctive style during her tenure with two renowned luxury brands including Ralph Lauren where she oversaw the decoration of their flagship retail stores. She was a creative dynamo when at Coach where she spearheaded the launch of their new store prototype and furniture line. Her take away from these projects was clear. "My experiences taught me to layer all of the elements - wallpaper, artwork, furniture, fabrics, accessories, and lighting. Without layering, rooms aren't done."

Sue also spent over ten years running Tocar Interior Design in New York City. Her time, traveling for business and pleasure, became the muse and design inspiration on many projects. I love this quote from her website, "You never know when you'll see something special - from a row of cabanas on an Italian beach to a lobby of a small inn in the Alps - that can provide a novel inspiration."

The first three images in this post feature a chic weekend getaway that appeared in CT Cottages and Gardens.

I had the chance to catch up with Sue and chat with her about design, her style and her recent coverage in Connecticut Cottages and Gardens

What inspires you in your designs?

I love the graphic quality of stripes and often like to incorporate them in my designs in both classic and modern ways. I also like to mix modern and traditional elements in each room.

What past interior designer do you most admire?

I am a huge fan of Bill Blass and all his interiors. His classical and masculine interiors are lovely. I love the mix of dark wood
antique pieces set in a light, neutral setting - the contrast is beautiful.

What do you take into consideration when designing a country home or a city apartment or house?

With a country house I like to know how the clients want to feel in the space and who they will entertain and make sure
the materials are durable and conducive to the season or all year round use. In the city its important to maximize space
and light.

What three words would sum up your style of interior design?

Tailored, modern, traditional.

Tell me a little about your project that was in CT Cottages and Gardens.

The client wanted colorful spaces to contrast their all grey Tribeca apartment. It was fun to consider the colors and how
they ran from one room to the next. I also loved mixing in more modern furniture elements in the classic shingle-style home.
The house was used all year round, so we wanted it to feel inviting in any season. The client wanted a house that was
very kid friendly too - so we used a lot of durable materials.


What is your dream client or project?

Someone who lets me design whatever I want!

S.B. Long Interior's projects have been featured in design publications including Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, Luxe Magazine, CT Cottage and Gardens among many others. The firm has a diverse portfolio that includes distinctive residential apartments and townhouses in New York City, country estates in Fairfield and Litchfield County, Connecticut, luxury residences in Highland Park, Texas, resort homes in The Hamptons & Rocky Mountains, personal luxury yachts & cruise ships and prestigious corporate & hospitality properties.

To learn more about Susan Bednar Long and S.B. Long Interiors, click here.

Find deign ideas and inspirations on Sue's blog here.





Designer of the Month: Philip Gorrivan

I have so many great friends who are designers that we are going to start a new monthly blog entitled Designer of the Month.  I hope you will take a look at the works of these designers and check out their websites if you are planning a project. They are all top quality and very talented. I am starting this new feature with Philip Gorrivan as he is a designer I have known for over 25 years (since before he was a designer actually!) I am also very fortunate to have just listed Philip's Washington home for rent during the months of June and July.

In 2001, Philip opened the doors of his company, Philip Gorrivan Design, in New York City. One of the most sought after interior designers, Philip's great sense of style and taste are enhanced by a true understanding of the decorative arts, art history and architecture. Recent commissions for the firm include a residence for a middle eastern royal family, a restaurant in Manhattan, as well as apartments and houses for celebrities and business leaders in New York City, London, Deer Valley Utah, Connecticut and the Hamptons.

The home featured in the photos below and in this month's House Beautiful, happens to be in Washington, CT. The lyrical quality of the design is evident in the chic wall coverings, fabrics and carefully edited decorative objets.

Here is a lovely living space with chocolate walls, exquisite art and fabric that gives a pop of color.

The wallpaper enhances the tones and finishes of the furniture in this stunning dining room. The blue and white pitcher is an elegant accent with a county casual floral arrangement


The photographs show the gorgeous mix of color, fabric, pattern and design elements. Please note all images are courtesy of House Beautiful.




We were able to ask Philip some questions about his life in Connecticut and about this current design project.

You have a house in Washington, what is it that you love about the town?

There is so much I love about Washington; where it is in the Litchfield Hills, the vibrant town and the community. Here, there is no need for house guests as there are the most interesting people among the locals and weekenders who are our friends.

What inspires you?

I am big gardener and my garden inspires as does Mother nature in general as well as travel.

What are the three most important elements of design?

Rooms need narrative, authenticity and of course actual design.

What designer from the past do you most admire?

David Hicks, he had a way of designing rooms referencing the past and with modern style. He had a great sense of the color, balance and scale. I also admire the work of Jean Michel Frank.

What are the different considerations for the interior design of the rooms in an older, historic house?

Whether it is a pre-war apartment, a modern house or a classic country home, you must think about the vernacular of the architecture. You have to be conscious of where you are and what you are designing in. It also is also important to have a collaborative relationship with the client.

What is your favorite restaurant, shop and outdoor activities in Litchfield County?

I love Community Table In Washington, CT. The food is extraordinary and it has a very hip vibe. I also enjoy shopping at Pergola in New Preston which is beautifully edited and curated. For outdoor activities, I am often found knee deep in my garden or running a loop around the country roads near my house. I also love shopping at the Elephant's Trunk flea market in New Milford or antiquing in general in the area.

Tell us about the project that was featured here in House Beautiful. Do you have a favorite aspect of the design?

I love the wonderful wallpaper story and the color palettes. It was also a collaborative effort with the client who had collected great decorative objets during travels and over time. It involved editing and styling as much as decorating. There is a larger narrative to the design but all the rooms communicate to one and other as well as telling their own story.


I hope you enjoy this virtual introduction to Philip Gorrivan and please take a moment to check out his web site, Philip Gorrivan Design.

The Steep Rock Honey Project

The preserve is one of the treasures of the Washington area; a magical place to hike, walk a dog, ride a horse or simply appreciate nature. We are so lucky to have so many talented local volunteers who work tirelessly to maintain Steep Rock for us to enjoy. The chair of the Steep Rock Association board, our friend Kirsten Feldman, has initiated the Steep Rock Honey Project which maintains and harvests raw honey from different areas in Washington, CT.

There are hives in seven locations in the Town of Washington. Each one has its own microclimate, soil and flora. These include Macricostas Preserve, Lake Waramaug, West Church Hill Road, Nichol Hills Road, Hidden Valley Preserve, Plumb Hill Road, Shearer Road and one is planned in the Steep Rock Preserve for 2016. The delicate hint of wildflower wetlands, lavender bushes and a mature linden tree are just some of the different environments that make each batch have a unique taste and aroma.

Just like other members of the community, Kirsten enjoys the beauty and open spaces of Steep Rock. She often rides her horse or hikes on the trails and is inspired in her commitment to preserving them for the future.

We recently asked Kirsten about the Steep Rock Honey project and the first year of selling this unique raw honey:

Steep Rock seems to be a very special place for you, can you explain why?

Having hiked all over the world, I appreciate how fortunate we are to have Steep Rock in our back yards. With the three distinct preserves (Steep Rock, Hidden Valley and Macricostas), I can hike in the woods, along a river and up to three different pinnacles, each with spectacular views. The experience is also different in each season. I never get tired of these hikes and I never take it for granted.

This was the first season of selling Steep Rock honey during the holiday period. Was it successful?

Our first season was a tremendous success. Our initial supply of honey was somewhat limited and we sold out in the first two weekends of December. As our hives mature, we will have more honey to sell each holiday season. We even mailed bottles of honey to a Washingtonian living in Arizona for the winter who wanted a "taste of Steep Rock"! The project contributed over $3,000 to Steep Rock from the small 2014 vintage of honey. Also, because we harvest once per year, our honey reflects a full year of nectar from the Town of Washington. It truly is delicious!

The bottling and logo are very distinctive, who came up with the creative concepts?

I collaborated with Abbie Zabar, a noted author and designer. Our goal was to create packaging that was evocative of Steep Rock and the hand spun, artisanal nature of the product as well as being a special holiday gift. I believe that local honey is like fine wine and we endeavored to present it that way.

What are the future plans for Steep Rock honey?

We anticipate having a somewhat larger supply of honey in 2015 if all of our hives make it through the winter and we don't lose many to bears. While our plan is to sell the honey only during the holidays, honey lasts forever and it can be used for hostess gifts all year long. Our goal is to raise at least $10,000 per year for the trails and to have honey be to Steep Rock as cookies are to Girl Scouts! While we want to satisfy our local customers first, it would be most exciting if we discovered demand for our honey beyond the borders of Washington.

There seemed to be great support among the local merchants, can you elaborate on that?

Our retail partners supported the effort by selling the honey with no profit (retail markup) to themselves. Special thanks to J. Seitz & Co., the Hickory Stick Bookshop, Nine Main and the Community Table Restaurant. As a result, all of the proceeds from sales went directly to Steep Rock. In addition, numerous local businesses purchased Steep Rock Honey as a local corporate gift for their clients. We have had a number of organizations ask us to accept pre orders of the 2015 vintage, which we will do. 

Here is a photo of Kirsten at work with the hives. We are so proud to be a part of a community with so many passionate, creative and committed individuals. It is also truly remarkable that our local stores took no mark up to ensure that 100% of the profits go directly back to fund the preserve. To read more about the Steep Rock Association, click here.

Party at Stacey's: A Holiday Feature in Litchfield Magazine

Photo:Wendy Carlson

I was excited to see the holiday issue of Litchfield magazine and the story on my ladies holiday party with good friends Susanna Salk, Marcia DeSanctis, Jessica Travelstead, Karen Davis and Cara Hodges of Oliphant Design. I had a great evening discussing our memorable holiday stories with the writer Wendy Carlson.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

'One afternoon just weeks before the Christmas season, Stacey Matthews invited professional women of every ilk- designers, writers, and retailers- to her Roxbury home to clink champagne flutes and kick off the holidays. Well, sort of.

"Actually, we do this all the time," says Matthews, of the impromptu soiree. The holiday season, however, can be an especially hectic time for Stacey, who with husband Pels is co-principal of The Matthews Group, part of William Raveis. "It's a total myth that the market is not busy here in the winter. I think a lot of agents like to spend the winter in Florida and perpetuate that myth," says Matthews. "But our weekend buyers tend to get their bonuses in December and January, so they want to buy then," she adds.

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Stacey's Holiday Gift Guide for Men

You're making your list, and checking it twice; gonna find out if he's naughty OR nice. I wanted to select some great local holiday gift ideas for all the men in your life whether they have been naughty or not. Here you will find my twelve fun ideas for the perfect gift for your husband, son, brother or friend. Best of all, they come from wonderful local stores with on-site owners who bring innovative product offerings to our area every holiday season


Men who like performance cars will LOVE the ultimate performance Bixby Bicycle from Shinola. The Bixby is Shinola's "cruiser" bike with a Shimano 3-speed internal hub. The American-made steel frame and fork are designed for comfort, utility and smooth riding, in dry or wet conditions. Style, Smooth and. Efficient; the Bixby has it all. $1,950.

Privet House 13 East Shore Road, New Preston-860.868.1800


For the avid reader, here are three book choices that run the gamut from humorous memories, salacious storytelling and intrigue. Give to your husband or boyfriend or husband to bring on vacation or read by the fireplace at home: Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers & Swells by Graydon Carter features the best of early Vanity Fair. $29.95; So Anyway by John Cleese. This hilarious biography, from the Englishman who brought us Monty Python, is a must-read. $28.00;The Map Thief by Michael Blanding is the gripping story of an esteemed rare map dealer. $27.50. The Hickory Stick Bookshop - 2 Green Hill Road, Washington- 860-868-0525


Bon Voyage! Travel in the ultimate style with these silk and leather toiletry cases in a variety of patterns. Perfect for trips to Palm Beach or Palm Springs and all the places in between. $68. J. McLaughlin - 6 Bee Brook Road, Washington- 203-557-9275


Get Buggy with it. For the Outdoor enthusiast, the 'Cicadas' are framed specimens by Christopher Marley. There are four different specimens, one for each season- spring,summer, fall, winter- and they are prices at $275 each. Pergola. 7 East. Shore Road, New Preston. 860-868-4769



Cheers!For the bon vivant and wine enthusiast, what could be better than this chic, rustic Nantucket Wine Bucket in wicker with a plastic liner $98. New Preston Kitchen Goods - 11 East Shore Road, New Preston- 860-868-1264


Got wood? If you guy is an antique lover or a furniture geek, this ultimate reference book will make him deliriously happy! The Furniture Bible celebrates Christophe Pourny's two decades of experience as a master furniture restorer. $35. The natural furniture tonics from Christophe Pourny are a love potion for all things wood. Made in Brooklyn.Tonic $20 Reviver $22 Privet House 13 East Shore Road, New Preston 860.868.1800




Baby it's cold outside. Keep him warm and stylish this season, this Orange Primaloft Men's Coat at J. Seitz is the perfect 'husband present and a great buy at $148. J. Seitz & Co - 9 East Shore Road, New Preston- 860-868-0119




Here is gift that will be a welcome sweet treat for a holiday host, male coworker or friend. These unique Toffee boxes from Sweeets come in milk, dark or white chocolate, all of which coat almond squares. $19 Sweeets - 13 East Shore Road, New Preston- 860-868-3388






Master Chef. Do you have a guy in the family who won't get out of the kitchen? These cutting boards are made exclusively for Privet House to our specifications by a family-owned and operated lumber mill located in the rolling hills of Litchfield County in Connecticut. Wood grain and color will vary slightly due to the reclaimed nature of the wood. .Assorted Sizes Made in America $95 - $175. Privet House. 13 East Shore Road, New Preston-860.868.1800


If the man in your life has a passion for art, this photograph by Kim Keever is a lush gorgeous landscape. Thisunique artist creates an enormous aquarium by arranging objects and materials (branches, moss, plants, etc.) to create fantastical topographies.Edition of six, price upon requestKMR Arts - 2 Titus Road, Washington- 860-868-7533




I love these classic, preppy and country chic style selections from J. McLauglin. You can find the perfect belt for your man from these choices of canvas embroidered or leather belts ranging from $58 to $95. J. McLauglhin - 6 Bee Brook Road, Washington- 203-557-9275


Baby, what time is it? Men will love the Shinola Runwell Chronograph 41mm, which is the only chronograph watch that tracks the return of American watchmaking with split second precision.$750. Privet House - 13 East Shore Road, New Preston- 860.868.1800