Lifestyle Magazine

By Bob Lipinski

With winter a faint memory and spring rapidly disappearing, the “dog days of summer” will soon be upon us. It’s party and barbecue time for all summer’s holidays and special events. Now even though I generally drink more white and rosé wines in hot weather, there’s nothing like a chilled glass of chardonnay or a large, bowl-shaped glass filled with a full-bodied cabernet sauvignon.

When pairing food to wine remember that wine is constant, and you can’t change what’s inside the bottle. But you can change the ingredients, texture or flavor of the finished dish to complement the wine. With an oaky, buttery, somewhat toasty chardonnay, I generally look for foods that share some of the same taste components. Examples might be fish cooked in or served with some drawn butter like lobster, steamers, scallops and crab; or fish that has seen time on the grill or in the broiler and its top is nicely toasted or browned. Salmon is another winner because of the rich, buttery texture, which pairs nicely with chardonnay. Fish contains oil and wines (white and red) with good acidity cut the fat in seafood. Think for a moment why you add lemon juice to fish — to balance the oils. (If you said because it lessens the fishy smell or taste, you are eating old fish.)

Tip: If you really want to serve a full-bodied red wine with a medium-well or well-done piece of meat, immediately brush the meat with extra-virgin olive oil when the cooking is complete and spoon over diced tomatoes that have been marinated with extra-virgin olive oil and lightly anointed with lemon juice.

Full-bodied red wines like cabernet sauvignon are a natural for heavier, full cuts of meat, like steak, ribs, veal or pork chops. However, a full-bodied red wine served outdoors during an afternoon barbecue in August tastes horrible when its internal temperature reaches 85°F. Warm red wine feels heavy in the mouth. The heat accentuates the alcohol and makes the wine appear flabby and makes the acidity seem to disappear. So, simply chill the wine for around 30 minutes before serving or place into a chiller (minus the ice) and place on the picnic table.

When pairing red wine to meat, it’s important to know how your guests like their meat cooked. We know that rare is juicy with succulent flavors, and at the other end of the spectrum, well-done is dry with little or no juice. A young, dry full-bodied red wine (cabernet sauvignon), which is often loaded with tannins (causes your mouth to pucker), dries your mouth and is probably not suited to meats cooked longer, but is perfect for juicy rarer cooked meats. So with well-done meats choose a fruitier red (pinot noir) and with rarer cooked meats choose a fuller-bodied red (cabernet sauvignon).

Barbecue is 25% inspiration and 75% perspiration.

That’s it for now; just remember to save a seat for me.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know about Vodka, Gin, Rum & Tequila” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com or boblipinski2009@hotmail.com.

By Bob Lipinski

Spring fever — everyone (at least in New York) has it after a long, dreary and cold winter, punctuated by snow, ice, shortened days and the doldrums of being cooped up indoors, trying to keep warm. I’ve had my fill of stodgy winter vegetables, not being able to go outdoors and feel the warmth of the sun on my face and patiently waiting to put on short-sleeve shirts.

We need a Spring Fever Tonic to fill us with song, frivolity and a change of scenery (no, not a trip to Tahiti).

Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!” — Robin Williams

A plethora of young, fresh, fruity wines, with lively acidity and perhaps some dancing bubbles to tantalize and awaken your taste buds and spirit, comes to mind. Keep the oak-aged chardonnay and big, full-bodied cabernet sauvignon wines for cold weather.

During the winter months, I secretly began to write down beverages I would drink and recommend when cold weather finally ended. I want to share that list with you.

glass-flowerswNV Ferrari Brut — Trento, Italy
Pale yellow color with a refreshing, light aroma of citrus and some bread dough. It’s quite dry with overtones of green apple, lemon and pears. Great with fried calamari!

NV Lamberti Prosecco — Veneto, Italy
Very aromatic and fruity with classic flavors of apple, peach and citrus. Also present are hints of chamomile and ginger — delicious. Try it with some panettone.

2014 Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay — Sonoma, California
I have been a fan of this wine for many years, and it continues with this bottling, bouquet and flavor of peaches, lemon, vanilla and hints of butter. Grab some cold lobster salad.

2013 Fazi Battaglia Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi — Marches, Italy
An intensely perfumed aroma of apples, honeysuckle, lime, oranges and peach with a bitter almond aftertaste. Serve it with spaghetti alla carbonara.

2013 Bodegas Arzuaga “Crianza” — Ribera del Duero, Spain
Ruby-colored with a full bouquet and flavor of blackberries, coffee, chocolate and brown spices. It’s perfect with some black beans and rice.

2013 Francis Ford Coppola Pinot Noir “Director’s” — Sonoma, California
Cherry-colored with a strong bouquet of cranberry, raspberry, cola and spices. It’s medium-bodied with dry flowers and berries, and even more berries. Serve this beauty with a piece of grilled salmon.

NV Standing Stone Vineyards “Smokehouse Red” — Lake Seneca, Finger Lakes, New York
Lovely ruby color and so full of spices, cherry-chocolate and cinnamon. It’s dry, with mouth-filling flavors and a hint of smoke in the aftertaste. Pulled pork anyone?

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know about Vodka, Gin, Rum & Tequila” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com or boblipinski2009@hotmail.com.

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By Ellen Barcel

Now that the nice weather is just around the corner, you’re probably thinking of enjoying outdoor living. Landscaping involves plants, but you also need some beautiful hardscaping, that is, a porch, deck or patio. Each has its pros and cons and works well in different situations. Here’s an overview of each.

Porches

Porches are generally raised structures, which run across the front of the house, usually with a cover. Porches are frequently made of wood but can also be made of concrete and brick. Since they are raised, they can have a storage area underneath them. This storage area can be open, closed in with a low trellis or completely closed in with a door. Porches add to the curb appeal of the front of a house as well as adding living space. Add a small outdoor table, a pair of chairs and some plants and the effect is quite charming.

Porches look particularly nice on Victorian and colonial style houses. Porches with a cover have the advantage of allowing for outdoor living even on a rainy summer day. The cover also helps keep blown debris from collecting on it. If you are concerned that the porch cover may block some of the sun from the room behind it, there is an easy solution — consider adding a light tube or skylight to that room. Porches need a railing around them, so no one accidently slips and falls. Hanging baskets of colorful flowers can be suspended from the porch cover. Porches may need to be painted or stained periodically, depending on the choice of materials.

Patios

patiowPatios are built at ground level and lead out of the back of a house. They have basically the same benefits as decks do. One advantage of patios is that made of cement, stone, slate or other hard material, they need virtually no maintenance. If a weed barrier is placed under the stone or slate, you don’t even need to spray to keep weeds from popping up between the stones. Since patios are at ground level, they do not need a railing around them. Don’t forget to add some lighting so you can enjoy your patio in the evening. Patios can be built so they blend into the deck of an in-the-ground swimming pool if you have one.

Decks

Decks are generally open wooded structures, usually accessible from the back of the house. Think lounge chairs and flower boxes when you think of decks. This is a great place for outdoor living, enjoying meals outside, reading a book or even watching TV. One advantage of decks is that there is a certain amount of give in wood, meaning that standing for any length of time is easier on the legs. Since decks are elevated, you get a better view of the surrounding yard, kids playing, etc. Decks are ideal especially if you live in a split level or high ranch house. As with a porch, decks need a railing around them so no one slips. Deck railings are a great place to grow colorful annuals in appropriate flower boxes.

deckwThe main disadvantage of a deck is that the wood needs to be treated periodically so it will not decay. If this is not done, you will find yourself doing more frequent repairs. However, you can get around this by using man-made “wood,” which lasts much longer.

However, before you make any decisions on whether you want a porch, a deck or a patio, check with your local building department. In some areas, you need a building permit no matter what you add; in some you need a permit if the structure is physically attached to the house or has a concrete footing. In other cases, a patio set in sand doesn’t require anything and doesn’t affect your taxes, while one set in concrete may require a permit and may add to your property taxes. There may also be limits on sizes of the additions. For example, a porch may only be allowed to extend so many feet out from the main structure. So get all the facts.

If you don’t have any electric connections outside your house — this is especially true of older homes — have an electrician come and install at least one in the front and one in the back. If you’re adding a water feature, check with the electrician to see if this is enough or if you need a special electric connection designated just for that feature.

Whatever you decide, you’ll find that adding a deck, patio or porch to your home provides you with years of outdoor enjoyment as well as adding to the value of your home.

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Clean lines and an open feel – many home reno clients want those concepts to be expressed in their daily living. Photo courtesy of Setauket Kitchen & Bath

By Susan Risoli

Spring brings a feeling that all is fresh and new. For many homeowners, this is the season for freshening up their living spaces, with a renovation project or a new interior design. This spring some trends are emerging in the ways people want to enjoy their homes.

Denis Lynch, owner of Setauket Kitchen and Bath in Setauket, finds that clients expect to use color differently than in years past. Paul Rosen, owner of Paul A. Rosen Interior Design in Commack, agreed. Lynch said today’s kitchen designs often include “a little splash of color,” expressed in the color of the cabinets or in the color of the hood over the stove. Or the client might ask to make the kitchen island a different color from the rest of the room, “or maybe use color in an accent piece on a far wall.”

But the colors are “nothing too bold,” Lynch said. “People are going for muted colors now.” Rosen said that when it comes to kitchen cabinets, his clients have been leaning toward “light color wood, with glazes.” When it comes to wall paint colors, mushroom, taupe and very light shades of purple are popular now, Rosen noted. So is gray. “Don’t look at gray as being dark,” he advised. “Using multiple shades of gray, that’s very handsome.”

Many homeowners are paring down and embracing an uncluttered way of life, and their home design choices may reflect that. “If anything is trending, it’s that people are going a little bit more contemporary,” Rosen said. “They want very clean, straight, simple lines.” Lynch said he finds the same preference for a simple, clean look is making itself known when clients come in to discuss a new kitchen or bathroom. One way that is evident is “instead of frosted shower doors or shower curtains, they want clear glass doors,” he said. “It also makes the room seem bigger.”

There are also trends in the materials used in home renovation and decorating. An industrial feel, with stainless steel elements throughout the home, is growing in popularity, Rosen said. For the latest looks in countertops and vanities, “quartz has come a long way,” Lynch said. The material is actually a composite of ground natural quartz mixed with polymer resin, via a manufacturing process. “It used to look very fake, like plastic,” Lynch said. “Now it looks more like natural stone, even though it is a man-made product.”

Setauket Kitchen and Bath has been using mostly porcelain flooring, Lynch said, and what is “very popular now” is porcelain tile that resembles wood flooring.

Wallpaper is making a strong comeback, Rosen said. He thinks it’s because “wallpaper stays clean forever. And you can get patterns today that are just phenomenal.” Choosing wallpaper instead of paint, he said,” is a good way to get a nice, dramatic look.”

Some aspects of putting a home together are classic, regardless of trends. Rosen said some types of furniture — such as sectionals — will always be in vogue if the room can accommodate it. As for fabrics, he has found that cottons and linens never go out of style.

Another thing that doesn’t change is the way design professionals interact with their clients. Some people have strong ideas about their home projects. Others need more guidance. Lynch recalled one customer who came into his showroom with “an old glass soap dispenser and asked us to design a bathroom that would coordinate with it.” But other clients aren’t sure what they want. “As a full-service construction company and design center, we take the project from design to completion,” Lynch said. “We have designers on staff, who will talk them through the project.”

Something for interior design clients to remember is that “you have to bond with your decorator, like you’re going on a date with somebody,” Rosen said. He starts the relationship off on the right foot by interviewing a client, to find out what appeals to them about their home and what they would like to change. Decorators can keep the relationship harmonious, he advised, by understanding that each client has a budget to work with. “Nobody ever says to their decorator, ‘Here’s my checkbook. Spend all the money you want,’” Rosen said. “You have to be frank and honest about how much things are going to cost.”

Part of what his clients are paying for is that “I am the insurance package that helps you not to make a mistake” in home décor, Rosen said. Thanks to their specialized knowledge and skills, “Decorators can mix different patterns very cleverly, like putting a plaid and a stripe together.”

By Ellen Barcel

Most Long Islanders know that there are certain fruits that grow well here. Come spring, the strawberries are ripe for the picking. As the summer progresses, blueberries, which love our acidic soil, are ripening. Later in the season, both grapes and apples are ripe. However, consider trying at least one unusual fruit in your garden this year.

1 — As you look through your gardening catalogues or other research material, read the descriptions carefully. Especially note the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s hardiness zones in which the plants will grow. For example, I’ve seen some really unique fruit available in catalogues, but they only grow in warmer climates. Long Island is hardiness zone 7. Fruit that is only hardly is zones 8 and above, will not survive our winters. Note that plants that do well in zones 2 or 3 to 6 usually will not do well here since either they don’t do well in our summer heat or they require a really cold winter to thrive.

2 — Check out whether the plant is self-fertile or needs more than one to pollinate it. Some need a second of its same variety while others need a different variety.

3 — Check the soil pH in which the plant will thrive. If your soil is too acidic you need to add lime. If yours is to alkaline, you need to add something like Miracid or Holly Tone to make it more acidic. Once you begin changing the soil’s pH, you need to do this ever after, or the soil will revert to what it would be naturally. Read the package and test your soil.

4 — Note the size of the plants. A row of eight-foot-tall blueberries can make a lovely living screen while a dwarf variety (like ‘Dwarf Tophat’) can be grown in a container on the patio for a tiny garden. If you are making a living screen, remember that since virtually all of the fruiting plants are deciduous, you’ll only get the benefits of the screen in warm weather when the plant is growing.

figwNow, for some unusual fruits to look into:

  • Gogi berries (Lycium barbarum) are considered to be a superfood because they are very high in antioxidants. The plants grow in zones 5 through 9 and will reach eight to 10 feet tall. They do well in full sun and partial shade. The plants produce white, lilac and purple flowers before the berries themselves form in July. The plant continues to flower and fruit until heavy frost. The plant has no known pest or disease problems and is self-fertile. The berries, which are slightly tart, can be eaten right off the plant or used to make juice, wine and even dried to be used as a snack in trail mix.
  • Honeyberries (Lonicera caerulea) do well in zones 3 to 8 and produce blueberry-like flavored fruit, also high in antioxidants. The fruit can be eaten fresh or used to make preserves. The plants can live up to 50 years. Honeyberries need another plant to pollinate it; so when you select plants note which other varieties are good choices. ‘Berry Blue’ reaches just four to five feet tall and blooms in spring followed by the fruit.
  • Figs are traditionally associated with warm climates, but a number of varieties have been developed that are hardy in our area. ‘Chicago Hardy’ grows in zones 5 to 10 and ‘Brown Turkey’ is zones 5 to 9. Both are self-pollinating. Figs are great to eat right off the trees, can be dried or used to make preserves. These are not the old fig trees you’ve seen wrapped up in winter, but cold hardy. However, just to make sure, I keep mine small, growing them in large pots and bringing them into an unheated garage in winter.
  • Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) is a small specimen tree with large leaves. It grows in zones 5 to 9 bearing fruit in late summer. So, here’s one that adds to the landscape besides giving you tasty fruit. Since it grows well in a soil pH of 5.5 to 7, it’s unlikely that you’ll need to adjust your soil pH for the tree to thrive.
  • Native plum (Prunus americanus) does well in zones 3 to 8 but requires two plants for pollination. This is a tall shrub, eight to 10 feet at maturity; so it can be used as a specimen or use a few to make a living screen. It does form thickets, so this can be a factor in your choice. On the other hand, it produces food not only for you but for wildlife as well.
  • Dwarf citrus trees  such as Dwarf Meyer Lemon, Dwarf Key Lime and Dwarf Calamondin Orange are tender in our area, growing in hardiness zones 9 to 10. But, if you don’t have a greenhouse, you can grow any of these as houseplants in the winter in large pots, bringing them outdoors in the summer. Although the plants are dwarf, they produce edible fruit. Citrus trees do best in an acidic soil, 5.5 to 6.5.

Whatever you select, do try at least one unusual fruiting plant this summer in your garden.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener.

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By Susan Risoli

Plants, trees and earth. They might look solid and unmoving. But today’s landscape professionals say that when it comes to the ways homeowners experience their outdoor spaces, trends are fluid and evolving.

As landscape design expands to include more options, Long Islanders are pushing the boundaries of the outdoor season as much as possible, said Jason Merz, owner of Metamorphosis Landscape Design in Smithtown. “People want to get as much use of their backyard as they can,” he said. “They expect to enjoy it from March or April through October.” And in general, “people are spending a lot more money on their homes and their landscaping than they were 10 or 15 years ago,” Merz said.

outdoor_lightingwSlaving over a hot stove in a sweltering kitchen? Please. These days, cooks are bringing their culinary talents into the backyard, preparing festive meals in full view of their guests. Merz said his company gets requests for “almost a full-on kitchen outside, as part of the patio.” Sinks, refrigerators, large barbecue grills, bar caddies — “they become great focal points for the backyard,” he said. And outdoor heaters keep the setting cozy in the chilly temperatures of early spring and late fall.

Customers’ imaginations are quite literally catching fire. Merz said recently he has seen more and more people using elements such as fire pits and outdoor fireplaces. He’s also noticed that “a lot more people are looking to use outdoor structures, like a cabana or pool house.”

Outdoor televisions are big this year, Merz noted. “This is one of the hottest things lately,” he said. “People use it to watch the football game while they’re sitting outside.” The TVs are mounted on the house or the roof line, in spots where they can be protected from rain, wind and sun.

Swimming pools are no longer limited to basic rectangular shapes. “We’ve been doing more custom gunite pools,” Merz said, with disappearing infinity edges becoming a popular favorite. When it comes to paving stones used for exterior flooring, homeowners “want to get away from a cookie-cutter look,” he said. “Lots of people like natural stone pavers, like bluestone and granite, around their swimming pools.”

outdoor_kitchenwIncreasingly, consumers want more than just one new backyard feature, asking instead for an integrated design of the entire space. “The trend is, people are calling in and saying, ‘We know we need this project done, but we need a design,’” Merz said. “We provide the landscape design for them, and then we build it.”

Irena Romovacek, landscape designer for Hicks Nurseries in Westbury, has seen changes in the types and colors of plants her clients prefer. In recent years, people are being kinder to our beleaguered planet by using more sustainable plants, “in keeping with nature,” she said. This greener strategy calls for succulents instead of grass, “because grass needs a lot of water and fertilizer to make it look good.”

Hamptons outdoor living might include tropical plants such as palm trees, Romovacek said, because the large palm leaves visually offset and balance outdoor displays of modern sculpture that are often a part of East End outdoor spaces. “And tropicals are fun, they’re exotic, they’re unusual,” she said. “Your friends are going to see it and say, ‘Where’d you get that?’”

marble_poolwColor palettes of plantings have changed. “My clients used to like more reds and orange. Now it’s a cooler palette — more blues and greens,” Romovacek said. But even with these softer schemes, she still creates dramatic interest with the strategic placement of shade, or by using plants with colored stems. She and her colleagues have embraced the shift to cooler colors and changed with the times, she said, designing spaces they and their clients can be proud of. “Some of the best landscapes I have designed are green on green,” she pointed out.

Some people want the colors used for decorating inside the house to be brought outdoors. In this way, Romovacek said, color makes a connection between inside and outside environments. “I ask my clients, what are your favorite colors? What colors do you not want to see?”

A growing interest in outdoor music coming through backyard speakers is another recent trend, Romovacek said, and so is landscape lighting. “For the past three years or so, people are asking for more outdoor lighting, and they’re controlling their outdoor lights with their phones,” she said. Some of it is for safety  — illuminating paths or stairs — and some is used to show off or play down parts of the yard. “It doesn’t have to be a lot of lighting to be successful,” she said. “You just want to accentuate some of the elements in your landscape.” Some clients ask her to use outdoor lights to simulate the soft, bewitching allure of moonlight, Romovacek said, and others have requested lighting displays that change color with the seasons.

By Heidi Sutton & Ernestine Franco

Winter was a long time coming to Long Island this year. The first snow did not fall until the weekend of Jan. 23, and then it fell with a vengeance — some areas of the Island were covered with more than 2 feet of snow. Following this, we went into the deep freeze the weekend of Valentine’s Day, with temperatures plummeting to minus 20 with the wind chill. To really confuse people, animals and plants, the thermometer reached 56 degrees two days later and we had a rainstorm.

So this year, it is not just gardeners who can’t wait for spring. Everyone may be checking out All-America Selections’ recently announced National Winners for 2016 — new varieties of flowers, fruits and vegetables that will do well in any climate throughout the United States and Canada. With fun names like Tomato Candyland Red, Strawberry Delizz and the exotic Mizuna Red Kingdom, these cultivars are the best of the best, beating out thousands for superior taste, disease tolerance, unique colors and flavors, higher yield, length of flowering and harvest, and overall performance.

Here’s what the judges had to say about these award winners:

None of these AAS winners are bred or produced using genetically modified organisms (GMOs). For a complete list of 2016 new plants winners chosen by the AAS by region, visit their website at www.all-americaselections.org.

The oldest known man in the world, Jiroemon Kimura. File photo

By Elof Carlson

The oldest authenticated woman was Jeanne Calment (1875-1997), which made her 122 years old when she died in Arles, France. The oldest authenticated man was Jiroemon Kimura (1897-2013), who lived 116 years and 54 days and died near Kyoto in Japan. That is in keeping with the finding that in all cultures women live two to five years longer than men.

This might be genetic (males are XY; so any harmful genes on the X are expressed in them) or it might be because males have usually done more dangerous work exposing them to carcinogens and mutagens or they tend to abuse their bodies more than women do with tobacco and alcohol. Both factors may play a role.

Mean life expectancy is a measure used by those who tabulate vital statistics. It is usually done on the day of one’s birth. It includes all deaths at any age. This creates a misleading number. Thus the mean life expectancy in the Stone Age when many of our ancestors lived in caves was about 20. This low number is based on studies of skeletal remains in these caves. In one study of 4000-year-old skeletons in the Orkneys just off northern Scotland, out of 342 skeletons, 63 died as teens, 24 died as toddlers, 70 died as children (2 to 12 years old), and 185 were adults (20 and older).  Many of the adults lived to their 50s.

The oldest known woman in the world, Jeanne Calment. File photo
The oldest known woman in the world, Jeanne Calment. File photo

Infant skeletons are underrepresented because they are least likely to be preserved. Infant mortality was common during all civilizations until the germ theory was introduced and the transport of foods in the last half of the nineteenth century reduced both infections (pneumonia and gastritis) and malnutrition, which were the major causes of infant mortality. Half of all children died in their first year for most of the history of humanity.

Today, virtually all of the children born in industrialized countries live to reach reproductive maturity. Even in the 20th century, these reductions in infant mortality are apparent: they were 10 percent of U.S. births in 1907, 2.6 percent in 1957 and 0.68 percent in 2007. The mean life expectancy for U.S. males was 45.6 in 1907, 66.4 for 1957 and 75.5 in 2007.   If one excludes infant mortality, there is still a better chance today of a person of 50 living to be 80 than it was in 1907, but the dramatic decline in death has been in childhood infectious diseases.

We owe that triumph to public health — especially the pasteurization of milk for infants and the use of chlorine in reservoirs to kill typhoid and other bacterial agents in drinking water.

Very likely by the end of this century most babies will have a mean life expectancy of about 90 (for females) or 87 (for males). The five-year gap between males and females is also narrowing, but at a slower rate.

While there are many attempts through diet and food supplements to extend life, the more likely outcome has been to have more people who live into their 80s and 90s. Centenarians are still relatively rare in industrialized nations. No one knows what makes a person live to 110 or more years (so rare that they are news stories when they die).

When my wife Nedra’s second cousin Grover Dawald (1884-1990), had his 105th birthday in Rochester, Indiana, he received a card of Congratulations from President George H. W. Bush. He was still living at home and danced on the day of his last birthday.

Elof Axel Carlson is a distinguished teaching professor emeritus in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology at Stony Brook University.

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An exterior view of a local tiny house. Photo by Wendy Mercier

By Lisa Steuer

You’ve most likely heard of this movement. After all, there are HGTV shows dedicated to this idea, and tiny house neighborhoods and associations are popping up around the country. More and more people are becoming attracted to the idea of downsizing and living more simply.

An interior view of a local tiny house. Photo by Wendy Mercier
An interior view of a local tiny house. Photo by Wendy Mercier

To be considered “tiny,” these houses are typically between 100 and 400 square feet. And while some people can’t imagine living in such a small space, others are attracted to tiny houses for many reasons. For instance, tiny houses cost much less to purchase — typically between $30,000 and $60,000, on average — and with such a small space, it’s much cheaper to cool and heat.

“So there’s a significant money savings that allows people to live a lifestyle that they want to live,” said Tim Tedesco of Stony Brook, who built a tiny house that he is selling. “So this allows them to live a lifestyle that they want to live while having their own place. They’re sacrificing space, but at the same time, they’re living a more minimalistic lifestyle.”

Tedesco, who does custom furniture and interior work with his company Tedesco Home Renovations, built the house entirely by himself in about four months. The outside of the house has solid cedar siding, giving it a colonial look, and there is natural cedar trim around all the windows. The house is 18 feet by 8 and a half feet wide and is on wheels. The house, once sold, will need to be moved to a location, since only the building is for sale and not the land.

“With such a small house, you can spend more on the items that you’re purchasing, like the siding,” Tedesco said. “If you’re building a tiny house, you don’t need as much and you can buy high-quality stuff. That’s what I did mostly on the house — buy better stuff, but less of it.”

The tiny house trend
is getting bigger.

In fact, the only used item on the entire house is the front door, Tedesco said. It’s an antique door with a full brass handle, adding even more to the unique, older look to the house.

Once you walk in the front door of Tedesco’s tiny house, you are in the living area with the couch on one wall. There is a staircase that goes up to the loft on the other wall. Under the staircase, there’s storage space. The living room contains a built-in desk underneath two windows, giving a view of the outside when you’re sitting at the desk.

An exterior view of a local tiny house. Photo by Wendy Mercier
An exterior view of a local tiny house. Photo by Wendy Mercier

In the back of the house is the kitchen and the bathroom. The kitchen has small-sized stainless steel appliances. There is a decent-sized utility closet in the back that could be used for additional storage or could be used to fit a stacked washer and dryer if the owner wishes. The house has hardwood floors, LED recessed lighting and a high ceiling that makes it feel even bigger when inside.

While there is ample storage space, according to Tedesco, the owner would most likely have to own fewer things, downsize or maybe rent a storage unit. “It forces you to be selective with what you choose to have in your daily life,” Tedesco said.

The sleeping loft is above the kitchen and the bathroom, and has solid windows for walls. “So if you’re lying up there and open the blinds, you can see the trees and it’s really beautiful. You feel like you’re almost outside,” said Tedesco, who added that a couple could live in the house comfortably.

“As far as having another person in there, space is not really an issue as long as you have enough storage for clothing and personal items. You just have to work a little bit harder to downsize on your personal items. Some people have an easier time than others,” Tedesco said.

In fact, many people who are attracted to the tiny house movement like the idea of owning less.

“People just want to have less and be able to enjoy their life more,” Tedesco said. “I’d rather spend my money on experiences rather than stuff.”

At the time of this interview, the house hadn’t yet sold, but there were interested potential buyers.

“I’ve gotten over a dozen calls in the past two weeks about it, since I listed it for sale. I didn’t list it for any website; it’s Facebook and word of mouth, and I’ve been getting calls about it.”

So, if considering a “tiny” lifestyle, there are decisions to be made, but many advantages to gain.

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By Susan Risoli

People coping with illnesses such as osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis — or those who have undergone a mastectomy — may also contend with pain, disability and a swirl of emotions.

hand_health_wThe best treatment plan is a multifaceted approach, said Marco Palmieri, D.O. Palmieri is medical director of the Center for Pain Management at Stony Brook Medicine. “A pretty high percentage” of post-mastectomy patients experience pain, he said. He and his colleagues recommend a well-structured regimen that could include medications, interventional approaches, physical therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, diet, exercise and, in some cases, treatment by a pain psychologist, Palmieri said.

Interventional approaches may include ablation and nerve blocks. “We block the nerves that supply the area of the chest wall,” Palmieri explained. For postmastectomy patients, he said, pain management specialists would choose neuropathic pain medications first, before turning to opioid drugs, in what Palmieri called “an opioid-sparing strategy.”

A pain psychologist may be called in for postmastectomy patients “who experience mood effects or have trouble coping,” Palmieri said.

Most important is to remember that postmastectomy patients need more than a cookie-cutter pain management plan, Palmieri said. “Not every patient is going to fit into the same treatment paradigm. Some things may be more appropriate for some patients than others.”

An individualized treatment plan can also aid people with rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that is “more of an inflammatory syndrome from other body structures than from a nerve,” Palmieri said. RA treatments at SBU’s Center for Pain Management could include joint injections guided by imaging (x-ray or ultrasound), nerve blocks and ablations, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, “and, sometimes, anti-depressant medications,” he said. Low-impact exercise, acupuncture, physical therapy and speaking with a pain psychologist can also help, he said.

He urges patients with acute or chronic pain from arthritis or mastectomy to understand that “there are options for them. If you come to pain management, it does not mean you’re going to be placed on narcotics.”

For information on the Center for Pain Management, visit www.stonybrookmedicine.edu or call 631-689-8333.

Those who have become all-too-familiar with the effects of osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis, and people who have undergone mastectomy can find relief and renewed health through the regular practice of yoga, said Danielle Goldstein. Yoga helps mastectomy patients “rebuild their upper body strength and work through the scar tissue that forms as a result of the mastectomy,” said Goldstein, owner/director of Mindful Turtle Yoga and Wellness in East Setauket. After a mastectomy, the breath work that is part of doing yoga helps people “worry less, because they’re able to be in the present moment. They develop the ability to not think about the past or the future — even if it’s just for that hour-long yoga practice,” Goldstein said.

 “The practice of yoga is the effort towards steadiness of mind,” she explained. And the physical side of it “will help people feel better, so they can enjoy their life more.” To get started, consult your physician and an experienced yoga instructor who has worked with mastectomy patients, she advised.

Keep moving — that’s Goldstein’s advice for people with osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Yoga will develop strength, she said, “and in combination with diet, the physical practice could help get body fluids moving so they’re not so stuck.” For osteoporosis, yoga postures (asanas) that are weight-bearing — planks, arm balances, bent-knee poses — will maintain bone density, Goldstein pointed out, “and these asanas can be modified for any age level.” Yoga is also great as a combination approach with acupuncture, nutrition, and Western medical treatment, she added.

People being treated or recovering from illnesses can still turn to yoga, Goldstein said. “It is believed that if you can breathe, you can practice yoga,” she said. “Yoga’s for everybody.” She recommended new students get started by calling the studio, speaking to her, and being guided to the best instructor for their needs.

“A yoga practice is sustainable over the course of a lifetime,” Goldstein said. “The practice may change, it may look different, but it’s still there.” And above all, she said, “It should make you joyful and happy.”

Goldstein can be reached at the Mindful Turtle Yoga and Wellness, 631-721-1881.

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