Thursday, November 17, 2011


Our Atlanta friend, Susan, found herself in Madison on a one-day pitch to a local company. We've known Susan, Randy and their son, Andrew for more years than any of us are willing to admit. For years our Thanksgiving ritual would include Susan's family. We even drove down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and vacationed together for several summers, but we hadn't seen each other for several years. When Susan found out she was going to be in Madison she called us up and told us to pick out a good restaurant. We'd meet for dinner and a drink or two. Well into our entrĂ©e and just before dessert and a trip through the bitters wall at Merchants Susan started to regale us about her favorite Southern magazine, Garden&Gun. Neither Rick nor I drink much anymore, but Susan can still put down a few. We thought possibly it was the wine talking and this was another attempt at Susan humor. No. She was dead serious. This was a real magazine with a real readership, why very few of us in the north haven't heard of this is a bit of a mystery. We acted as if we were from Missouri, the show-me-state, we'd wait to see it to believe it. Low and behold, one week later, there in our mailbox was a manila envelope with Susan's Atlanta return address and a copy of Garden&Gun enclosed.  It turns out it's a very slick magazine with a lot of Southern charm.
Where else can you find an article on culinary foam being compared to "that stuff you see on leaves in the woods, called cuckoo spit" or the reminiscences of an eleven year-old boy shooting his first dove, cutting its breast out and toasting it on a triscuit. I'm not sure if the writing is tongue-in-cheek but much of it is rib splitting hilarious. I've not seen Garden&Gun on my local Barnes&Noble shelves but even as a snobby northerner I'm sold on this southern rag.

Rick loves to lounge in bed with a huge stack of shelter and food magazines piled on the bed and a 16 oz. thin-rimmed glass filled with iced tea or Diet Pepsi sitting on the bedside table in easy reach. It helps if it's drizzly outside or if a nice blanket of falling snow can be seen through the window. Back in early spring of 2000 we were having just that sort of day. While thumbing through the April issue of Architectural Digest he yelled for me to come in from the next room because I had to look at Stephen Shadley's restoration of Director Wallace Neff's Spanish-style Beverly Hills residence for Diane Keaton. Anything interior or fashion design baring Diane Keaton's name is worth looking at. I was on the bed in a minute.
As I was devouring the article Rick began his favorite Diane Keaton story. "When I was twenty-one I moved to New York City and fell in love with it and the life it offered.  Theatre, music, art, dance, design, it was all there at my feet and I took advantage of as much as I could.  At the time there was a small supper club named "Reno Sweeney's" that featured edgy performers like Hollywood Lawn of Andy Warhol fame and up and comers like Peter Allen (one of Liza Minelli's husbands and the inspiration for "The Boy From Oz").  One night I went to see a not so well known actress who had put together a cabaret act. That was the night I fell in love with everything Diane Keaton.  I had a huge fight with the friend I went with because he thought she was "bland and talentless". Needless to say, I won that argument. Not only do I find her captivating and immensely talented, I think she is incredibly smart, terribly funny and smashingly stylish. Not normally one to fawn over celebrities, I made an exception that night. I stayed to watch her whole show and afterwards I found the courage to go up to her and tell her how great I thought she was."
The stylishness of Diane Keaton was all over this restoration. The image we fell in love with was an exterior space where Shadley had extended existing timbers out over a patio to create a pergola. He placed two wooden plank tables end-to-end to create one twelve foot long eating area and surrounded the table with a collection of ten vintage metal lawn chairs, the finishing touch - a 1937 western painting by Pete Martinez and a beautiful vintage arts & crafts sconce. The simplicity of effort creates the most seductive of eating environments we'd seen. It's amazing how 12 years later Ms. Keaton and that image still make us swoon.

The first thing I'd go after are the chairs. Ebay, Etsy and all the rest have gobs of vintage lawn chairs available, most in the $25 to $60 range. For me, a little rust is a good thing. If the chairs are too pristine they don't bring the necessary character and charm to the table. After the chairs it's time to go after the table.
There are plenty wooden dining tables both contemporary and vintage out there. You can spend a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand dollars for them like this one from Scout Chicago. If these prices are too steep I'd consider making one myself. Go to Craig's List and look for barn wood. If you're anywhere near a rural area there always seems to be a farmer out there with a dilapidated barn willing to sell a few good planks for the top of your table. Make an apron for support and attach the planks to the top. For legs, go to your local hardware or Home Depot store and buy flanges, threaded pipe and metal caps, four sets for a short table six for a longer one. Screw the flange to underside of the table; it's best to have reinforced the underside with a heavier wooden cross brace. Then screw in your pipe legs and add the caps as feet. You can finish the barn wood by sanding it, staining it, or polyurethaning it, or you can leave it in its natural state. The choice is up to you. If you can't afford a Pete Martinez painting go with planted shrubs or hanging baskets of flowers for color. Now bring out the fiestaware, some candles and you're ready for dining al fresco with the fabulous Diane Keaton.

Here's the deal:
1. Register your American Express card online at:
2.Shop and spend $25 or more using your registered card at Pleasant Living on Saturday, November 26, 20011
3. Get  a $25 statement credit on your cards account.

It's like getting a free gift for Grandma. Check one person off your gift list - for free. Well, you've got to go through the registration process and time is money but it's pretty simple and only takes about 45 seconds to complete the registration. We'd really like to see you and we'd even do the gift-wrapping on any gift that will fit in one of our gift boxes.


Diane Keaton, 1986
Photographed by Annie Leibovitz
Represented by Danziger Gallery, New York City


  1. With names like Clyde Edgerton and Roy Blount, Jr. on the masthead, I think you're correct on all counts: Garden & Gun is slick, charming, and tongue-in-cheek.

  2. I've heard about this magazine from other bloggers but have not seen an actual copy. Since you read lots of shelter magazines, have you noticed that over the last few years they seem to have dropped the concept of "Christmas issues." Used to be that HB, HG etc. would always do some holiday-themed homes, gifts, food etc. and it seems to have disappeared. Don't know if it's a nod to our more multi-cultural society or what. Any thoughts on this?

  3. I had not notice this until you brought it to my attention and I cannot explain the phenomenon but I am now aware of it. I did receive my copy of "Country Living" which did have a Christmas theme. And of course Martha Stewart but I miss those themes.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Rick & Lee