Serenbe Style and Soul

with Marie Nygren

Monthly Archive: February 2013



February 2013



Engaging Your Senses

Written by , Posted in Miscellaneous

During my most recent trip to Paris, for the meeting and discussions about the sustainable food movement (see blog post Travels, talks, and food, February 7), I was compelled to indulge my fascination with the Lady and the Unicorn (La Dame a la licorne) tapestries at the National Museum of the Middle Ages (Musee national du Moyen-Age, formerly known as the Musee de Cluny) at the Hotel de Cluny in Paris.  The set of six tapestries, woven in Flanders of wool and silk, dates back to the 15th century.  The tapestries, found in poor repair in 1841, were restored and have been at the Cluny since 1882.

The tapestries are said to depict the five senses.  The sixth, stitched with “a mon seul desir” is variously interpreted as “To my only desire,” “My heart’s desire,” and other interpretations.  To me, the sixth tapestry is about intuition.

In each, there is a woman, a unicorn, and a lion; other creatures and people show up in the various scenes.  These are extraordinary works of art, and on the occasions when I’ve been in Paris, a visit to the Cluny is a must.  I am enthralled with the handiwork, the colors, and most especially the content.

Click on a tapestry to read about that tapestry from the museum’s website.







A mon seul désir.

What is your interpretation of the sixth tapestry?
A mon seul désir

My captivation with the tapestries has me wondering about the magic, if you will, that is the gift of the senses and how they help to make us more aware of the world.  I try to live a life fully engaged, which to me is living a sensual life – or being in the world with all the senses awakened and aware.

Admittedly, being fully engaged with one’s senses can be challenging and even a bit distracting initially.  What is something you can do or experience that engages each of the five senses (taste, sight, smell, touch, hearing)?  Many possible responses might involve some or most of the senses, but very few I can think of engage them all.

My next post will share one of the few answers I’ve ever come up with to that question.  In the meantime, as an exercise, try being more aware of your senses in all you do.  I think you might be surprised what more you notice when you are more alert.



February 2013



Hopes and aspirations

Written by , Posted in Miscellaneous

Probably like many of you, once the holidays are over and the decorations are packed away for safekeeping until next year, I am fully into the mode of the new year and the promise that it brings for new experiences and transformations. It’s hard not to want to “do” it all now, “fix” it all – whatever the desired fix is – and jump headfirst into making it the year I envision for myself and my family.

My aspirations and hopes for 2013 are many and varied. Some are personal and for only me to know; others, though, I’m happy to share. In doing so, perhaps we can work together and achieve some pretty remarkable feats this year collectively and personally.

I hope to sell out every Southern Chefs Series class, the proceeds of which will go to Wholesome Wave to establish chapters in other Southern states. Visit Wholesome Wave Georgia’s website to read what our local chapter is doing; you’ll be proud! It’s remarkable and inspiring what Wholesome Wave is doing to make healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables accessible and affordable to our neighbors in need. I’m proud to lend my assistance to furthering their mission.

I hope to increase my support of local businesses and encourage others to do the same. Small businesses need us as much as ever. As a small business owner, I know how impactful it is when consumers choose to give me their business. So as often as possible, I will only shop local and contract for services with area business owners.

I aspire to see the magic and beauty present in every day. It is there for all of us to see, but in the craziness that we can let life become, it’s easy to miss.

I aspire to be thankful for every day.  One of my favorite poems is “i thank You God for most this amazing” by ee cummings. (There are some YouTube postings of audio recordings of him reciting this poem; one can be found at Imagine how much more kindness we might all experience if we share this aspiration.


The rock labyrinth at Serenbe using the pattern from

Notre Dame de Chartres outside Paris     

Please consider joining me. I plan to share with you my journey in this acknowledgment of magic and beauty. Here’s to a remarkable year.



February 2013



Travels, talks, and food

Written by , Posted in Miscellaneous

Steve and I were invited to be guests of Prince Louis Albert de Broglie on his property in the Loire Valley of France to talk about the sustainable food movement. Our group also included Lori and Chef Michel Nischan (owner of the renowned restaurant Dressing Room, in Westport, CT and President/CEO of Wholesome Wave) and two other couples.  

What a glorious garden!

Our destination, the captivating Chateau de la Bourdaisière in Touraine, is owned by Prince Louis and his wife, Princess Françoise.  He is known as le prince jardinier (the prince gardener) for his love of growing fruits and vegetables.  The Chateau, with its National Conservancy of Tomatoes (boasting 650+ varieties and an annual tomato festival!) and historical vegetable and medicinal gardens, has become a destination for visitors.  

Bounty for the day’s meal

We were guests at the Chateau for three glorious days of gardening, cooking, and talking about changes happening and needed in the sustainable food movement.  Our purpose for going and the subsequent discussions made for a wholly enlightening experience.

Some time ago, Prince Louis recognized his country was experiencing the loss of heirloom varieties and set out to address the issue, establishing the Conservancy and historical gardens at the Chateau. The Prince’s passion is one we see in Paige and Justin of Serenbe Farms and Rebecca and Ross of Many Fold Farm. It was exciting to be part of discussions which serve to strengthen connections among passionate people around the world.  

Cooking for new and old friends

Though Chef Michel and I were the guests with professional cooking experience, wonderfully, we all participated in preparing fresh-from-the-garden meals shared family style. Michel assigned duties in the kitchen, and, over glasses of wine and amid stimulating conversation, we worked communally to prepare delicious, wholesome meals.  This was a memorable coming together of interesting people and demonstrated what I’ve known all my life – food connects us.

Whether dining in a 15th century French castle or at one’s dining room table, it’s the interactions we have with one another and with the food nourishing us that bring joy and meaning to our lives.