Cedar Rock

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The small red tile is Frank Lloyd Wright’s signature block

This amazing Usonian house is in Cedar Rock State Park in Iowa.  The house and property was donated to the state by the Walters family in a trust to support the home in the future.  It is a marvelous example of how people lived in these homes and how Wright incorporated design into every portion of the house… I can only imagine how FLW would have marveled at current materials since he was so genius, design wise, with concrete, plywood, and tile.  This house was built around 1950 on the “brow” of a hill overlooking a sweeping lawn that sloped to a pastoral river.  The picture on the right is of the boathouse, one of only 3 designed by Wright remaining standing today.  Because this house design did not include any of Wright’s beloved stain glass windows, most Usonions did not, he incorporated backlighted niches in the interior brick walls that displayed colored slag glass from Corning to add that jewel box effect that enthralled the people who are lucky enough to be invited inside.

While you may not appreciate modern architecture, there is always something to be learned from great design and Wright was a master of incorporating form and function into an ethereal cocoon for living.

A World Heritage site worth a visit

imageimageThe entrance waterfall, garden, and an overview of Taliesin, the home of Frank Lloyd Wright from 1911 until his death in 1959; what an architectural treasure.  It was a work in progress for the entire time that FLW lived here.  It is really beautiful even though it is in need of a great deal more restoration.  The acreage that this sits above is breathtaking.

He dammed up a creek to form the small lake and the entrance waterfall which can be heard in the main house.  The rest of the gardens were abundant with columbines, lilacs, hostas, and a variety of trees including some pines that mimic the background of his Japanese screen and can be seen through windows around the screen, enlarging the visual impact.  There is even a long, slim “bird walk” which cantilevers out into the trees on the hillside where the house sits.  Taliesin is Welsh for “shining brow” which is a good description of the house in its setting.

Also on the property is the Hillside School and Studio, where the current architectural students spend the summer and fall, a theatre, the Romeo and Juliet Windmill, and Midway Farms.  All in all, a great way to spend a day.


Emil Bach House, Chicago, IL

imageThis was a great tour.  The house originated from Ladies Home Journal ran a series of plans by Frank Lloyd Wright for various family dwellings… this was the fire-proof plan.  The details of these plans are amazing and could be built for $5,000.  This one cost $11,000.  Black walnut woodwork and trim was parlayed by the owner from the war department; used for gun stocks, it was not available as building material.  Mr. Bach owned a brick manufacturing company, but the bricks for the house were shipped in from Ohio.

First Frank Lloyd Wright Christmas and Garden Tour 2015

image Took a Spring trip to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens to inspire the research for the first Frank Lloyd Wright Christmas and Garden Tour, inspired by our fabulous tree company, NeumanTree, through the Midwest and southern states.  So far, there are 5 Wright house tours, not including drive-by’s, countless garden centers, and lots of Christmas stores.  Can’t wait to get on the road, but there is a lot more planning to do.  Stay tuned for some great ideas and pictures from our adventure.

Ola from Mexico!

View from my balcony
View from my balcony

Here in Merida visiting with M. C. Twinklin’s first live elf, Billy P. and his lovely bride, Lula. While it is too hot for egg nog, there is plenty of inspiration in this magnificent old city. It is the beginning of the rainy season, but everything is already green and lush.

Merida is the capital of the Yucatan. Before arriving here, we toured Tulum and Lake Bacalar, almost to Belize. Both spots were full of old Mexican charm. With a one night stay in Valladolid, we admired their “cenote”, Spanish for sinkhole. Of course, the cenote is very old, with stalagmites and stalagtites in the connecting “caves”, more like a rock outcropping. Many people swim in them, as the water is clear as a bell, fed mainly by underground aquifers. Very lovely.

My home away from home in Merida is the Hotel Reforma, an old hacienda style hotel built in the 1800’s, with pasta tile floors and beamed 18′ ceilings.
With my friends, I will really get a taste of this city’s vibrant cultural pulse, street dancing, music, and just maybe some tequila…..after all, when life gives you lemons, grab a shot and some salt.

We are in search of something original for Christmas while here. Billy says holidays make Meridians want to set off fireworks, though ” blow things up” was his exact quote. Since we cannot return with fireworks, hopefully, we will discover a spectacular find for all to see in the fall.

Elves in Europe

Parkhotel Wasserburg Anholt
Parkhotel Wasserburg Anholt

The elves are off to Europe to find some new and exciting trends for 2014.  Flying out of Atlanta during Snow Jam 14 was quite an adventure, but look what was awaiting us upon our arrival; hmmm, that gives me an idea for a tree theme.  Stay tuned for more! Hope everyone in Atlanta is safe and warm.

HLN to Interview Cheryl Monday December 3rd

M.C. Twinklin’s is tickled red and green to announce that HLN, a subsidiary of CNN, will be interviewing owner Cheryl Gaston in a segment called “Making it in America”.

The segment will air Monday, December 3, 2012 between 4pm – 5pm and feature business owners in the business of making our holidays bright.

Make sure to tune in!