The Definitive Guide to the Quiet World of Salt Water New England.     Photo by Muffy Aldrich

Monday, March 27, 2023

Sharing Garden Plants (repost)

Photos by Salt Water New England

I know from where almost every plant has come in my gardens.  The vinca, snowdrops, weigela, and lilacs came from my grandmother, the ever-spreading violets came from my oldest friend, the golden glow were given to me by the owners of the Granite Hall Store on the Maine coast.  And I would regularly visit (and put the money in the box - the honor system) the corner seasonal plant stand down the road, and who in turn donated everything to a local church fund.

And early spring is when I give away quite a few as well.  Some friends pick them up when they visit, and others I transport and help settle into their new homes.  I can drive down certain roads and see the offspring of plants in which I had served as a link in their propagation.

Separating is important to keep gardens from getting overgrown and sharing helps spread plants that will thrive in our climates and microclimates.

Composting (repost)

Photos by Salt Water New England

Every day, food scraps that can't be saved, fed to the dog, or given to the chickens end up in the composter.  And about twice a year, the compost piles is harvested and the rich, intense matter is added to the garden beds or other places of need.

Garden Tools (repost)

Photos by Salt Water New England
When asked about essential garden tools and the best places to get them, readers have suggested the following:
I may be frugal in a lot of ways, but I have learned that you have to invest in a good pair of loppers and shears. (Bob NOLA)
Felco pruning shears (they even have a left-handed version!). I bought mine at Amazon but that's because I live in rural NC and nobody around had them. I get my heirloom seeds a good hardware or garden store (there are 2 in the town where I work). I still have some garden tools from my husband's grandfather (including a lovely hoe, which I admit I use more to poke a bonfire than I use in my raised bed vegetable gardens). Ergonomic trowel (from a box store) probably one of my favorites but sadly it doesn't last very long. If I could find the new design in high quality construction, I'd be thrilled! (Hoya)
A good pair of gloves with a nice gauntlet is helpful. Saves arm and hand scratches. good pruning shears are a must. (mary anne)
My favorite tools are my Felco 2 pruners, a Smith Hawken telescoping ratchet lopper, and a circle hoe.  (Joyce North)
I ran a small field-grown, perennial nursery from our home. My customers were always asking for recommendations of tools and such. My list is surprisingly small and affordable.
  • Felco Bypass Pruners
  • Felco Bypass Loppers
  • Small “nippers” for delicate trimming.
  • Kitchen string
  • Auger attachment for cordless drill which is perfect for mass planting of bulbs.
  • Deluxe soil knife w/serrated edge, replaces my late father’s hunting knives. Can be found at:
  • Atlas Gloves, the best overall gloves out there. They are machine washable and inexpensive.
  • Heavy duty, leather work gloves for all seasons and available in women’s sizes. Can be found at:
  • Muck shoes, high & low
  • Hoe, edger, and pointed shovel, inherited.
  • Hula Hoe, perfect to maintain inside edging.
  • Spear & Jackson Spade from England. This was my splurge, and well worth it.
  • Good, sturdy wheelbarrow    (Laurie Ann)  

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Taken at the Start of a Newport to Bermuda Race

Photo by Muffy Aldrich


The New Yorker Review of “The Kingdom of Prep: The Inside Story of the Rise and (Near) Fall of J. Crew”

A reader sent this review, written by New Yorker staff writer Hua Hsu, of the book “The Kingdom of Prep: The Inside Story of the Rise and (Near) Fall of J. Crew.”

One of my earlier statements on this blog was " J. Crew is a company that non-preppy people think of as preppy.  J. Crew was born out of opportunistic marketing towards people 'from away' rather than any DNA forged in producing great clothes."  

This has saved me some time over the years, as it has allowed me to assume anyone who conflates J. Crew with preppy is safe to ignore.  However, others may find this article, and the referenced book, useful and/or entertaining.
J. Crew's prowess was in marketing to people 'from away', including using Wheeler Island (which is amongst the islands that five generations of my family grew up spending time on and around and shown in this picture I took back in the late 1980s) for one of their earliest catalog covers.  

...And Wheeler Island from last week.  

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Cows, Carnage, and I

Mahogany English Slant Desk, Early 1800s - Photo by Salt Water New England

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Sunday, March 19, 2023

The Lifecycle of Clothing Companies (including those referred to as "Preppy" or "Trad/Ivy")

Chart and Definitions Originally Shown on my Blog 'The Daily Prep' Over a Decade Ago

The clothes I like stay the same.  The places I get them change all the time.  

This sentiment is why, fairly consistently, readers send 'Questions for the Community' that are variations of: 
  • "What are the new companies providing classic clothes?" 
  • "What are the great go-to clothing companies today?"  
  • "On what companies have you given up?" and 
  • "What brands that used to be great are now totally inert?"

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Camp Mocs


Camp Mocs for Women and Men

Camp Mocs, short for Camp Moccasins, are a classic casual slip-on shoe for men and women.  Flattering and easier than boat shoes, they are perfect for business casual when new and for everyday wear when older.   They were invented by Leon L. Bean, and L.L. Bean first introduced these shoes in 1936.

With white soles, they can be worn on boat decks.   A red sole is a fine alternative for autumn.  They can be worn with or without socks.     

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Monday, March 13, 2023

This Time of Year...

Photos by Salt Water New England

Women's Khakis

A reader question:

I am hoping for help from the community in my search to find well made all cotton khakis. I am looking for a comfortable fit that will allow me to move easily and yet will not be too big and baggy. I am a slim woman, probably an inch or two shorter than Muffy and of the same generation.  

The khakis I have been wearing were from shops that no longer make the quality and style I am looking for or have closed their doors. I have had trouble finding such pants for many years and now I am down to my last pair.

Where will Muffy and others of the community go for their new khakis? 


Lambswool and Tattersall


Sunday, March 12, 2023

The New England WASP Ethos of Fierce Independence

One of the strongest attributes to the Salt Water New England culture is independence.  Fierce independence.  

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Where to visit in the U.K.?


Dear Muffy,

May I ask the community a question. Bearing in mind the fondness for some things British, have many of the U.S. readers visited the U.K.? If so where and what were their impressions?

Kind regards.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

A Bright March Morning

Photos by Salt Water New England

L.L. Bean Boat and Tote Bags - The Complete Guide (Repost)

Photos by Salt Water New England
I have received quite a few questions about L.L. Bean Boat and Tote bags.  Here are the top ten, and my answers (and some answers from the community).  

1. What is an L.L. Bean Boat and Tote Bag?

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Why People Love Preppy Clothes. Why People Hate Preppy Clothes.

There is a group of clothes that I find perfect.  These include pure cotton khakis and baggy oxford shirts in a handful of colors, Scottish Fair Isles, British rain coats, tweed coats, D-ring motif belts, Maine made bluchers and boat shoes, toggle coats, tartan cashmere scarves made in Scotland and Aran sweaters made in Ireland.

These clothes blend into the New England coast.  They are ideal for getting in and out of boats, for students throwing on as they run across the quad with wet hair on the way to class, for casual business meetings that turn into hikes across Cambridge to find some obscure used bookstores. The pink and green match the beach roses along the New England coast, the blues feel like the ocean, and the Donegal sweater I am wearing right now has the rugged complexion of the rocky Maine coast.   

These clothes also fit my highest compliment, which is 'class-feral'.  They are the Herreshoff yachts or Sarouk rugs of clothes; they wear well.  They also, rather than highlight the wearer, improve the scene.  

Many would describe these as 'preppy' clothes.  I think of them slightly differently, as "the thing before preppy."  My parents wore such clothes as early as the '50s and '60s.  I “never didn't” have these clothes.  (For context, I grew up around New Haven, where my family has roots that go back to its founding in the 1630s.  One of my great grandfathers, Deacon Samuel Heminway,  paid the first Yale tuition in 1702, and another, John Brockett, laid out the Nine Squares of New Haven in 1638.) But we never referred to them as preppy.

Friday, March 3, 2023

Summer Cocktail Party Attire

Photos by Salt Water New England

Summer cocktail party season is almost upon us.  For men and women, what do you wear, and were do you get it?  A flurry of reader questions.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

My Mother's Burberry Trench Coat - When do you save sentimental items?

Me, wearing my mother's Burberry (then Burberrys) trench coat, when I was about twenty.  Photo by my father.

I hate the notion of excessive storage.  My attic and basement are nearly empty, and drawers are kept to a minimum.  The youthful urge to fill has abated, and I find wide, empty surfaces the greatest luxury. Unfilled shelves represent opportunity, not signs of some intellectual wanness.    I am always culling.  

But sentimental items can make me tap the brakes on what is otherwise a smooth process and punt the decision.  

My parents bought high quality clothing and so decisions around those items often go unresolved.  I still have my mother's Burberry trench, in good condition, but a bit tight around the shoulders.   So there it hangs, punted again.

My questions for the community are:

What items do you keep for sentimental reasons? 

When such items are authentic, do you risk getting them tailored? 

How do you dispose of "classic" items when/if it is time?

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

The Quintessential SWNE Breakfast, Lunch, Grazing, and Dinner?

Dear Editor,

The quintessential SWNE diet consists of…? 

Thinking fondly of my late grandmother who lived well into her 90s, whose diet consisted almost entirely of wheat thins and tomato sandwiches and whose exercise routine was a daily walk down the street to Todd’s Point Park in Old Greenwich. 

What do you eat? When do you eat? and how do you eat it? 

Looking forward to your response. 

Monday, February 27, 2023

Random Photos from our Archives

My Father, Early 90s, Connecticut Shore

My Mother, 1960s, Connecticut Shore

Saturday, February 25, 2023

The Importance of the Right Smells

The right smells and the wrong smells are critical.  Smells are just as important as visuals in making a place feel comfortable.

Some smells are just wrong.  And I will get a lot of pushback here, but perfumes and colognes are a no.  When getting my car emissions checked recently, it took several days for the cologne of the car mechanic doing the testing to go away, during which time,  I went through several wool sweaters that picked up his scent that had lingered in the car, even with leather seats.  Days of airing out.

There is an amalgam smell that I just shorthand as smelling like "away."  Time spent in airports, commercial airplanes, and other venues leaves garments similarly in need of immediate washing or airing out.

Anything artificially scented, especially when used to (try to) cover up another smell, is problematic.  Dry cleaning comes to mind.   For one reason, masking smells make it harder to monitor our environment.   If I am shopping for fresh produce, I want to be able to smell the produce,  not the person who walked by five minutes ago.  

Smells that are designed to fool us, like air fresheners, seldom do.   Scented candles and potpourri are designed for someone else.  The only thing worse than how hair product looks is how it smells. 

When shopping, unscented products are the only choice.  I will switch brands if the unscented version is not in stock.  

And nothing beats hot soapy water.  I love doing laundry.  

There are other smells that are glorious, of course:

  • Wood Smoke
  • Good Leather
  • Fresh Sheets
  • Tack Rooms
  • Pipe Tobacco (I know, I know)
  • Apple Pie
  • Wool
  • Salt Air
  • Low Tide (I know, I know)
  • Mulled Cider
  • Golden Retrievers  (pre-rolling)
  • Clean Cars
  • Beach Roses
  • Air from the North

While walking down the road, smelling someone's wood smoke is as enjoyed as much as another's perfumed laundry fabric softener is not.  

Every few years there are new studies on the toxicity of artificial scents.    These just confirm our instincts that smells should be treated as authentically as everything else.

Spring Shirts

Photo by Salt Water New England