Awesome Appliances These appliances anticipate your every need — plus a few you didn’t know you had. They’re also a beautiful addition to your home. MAGNETISM AT WORK You can get professional performance in your home with a new Viking cooktop (left) that uses the same efficient technology used in commercial induction equipment. Induction elements generate a magnetic field, which reacts with the iron in the base of the cookware, instantly transforming the pot or pan into the heat source. When the cookware is removed, the cooktop surface is cool to the touch almost immediately. From Baron’s Major Brands, with four locations: Concord, Laconia, Salem and Plaistow. www.baronsmajorbrands.com VERY COOL Why not enjoy the breezes — and the view — while you cook? This outdoor kitchen (above left) is built with a Marvel refrigerator and ice maker, both designed especially for the outdoors. The commercial-grade, built-in refrigerated Marvel wine cabinets (above) fit neatly under your countertop and protect your wine collection at proper storage temperature. From Eastern Marketing Corp. (800) 966-8300, www.easternmarketingcorp.com THE BIG CHILL The glass-doored stainless steel PRO 48 Sub-Zero refrigerator is pushing food preservation to new heights. The glass doors offer visibility with the safety of triple-pane UV resistant glass. The dual refrigeration, two compressors and three evaporators keep food fresher longer and prevent odor transfer. From Clarke Distribution, Milford, Mass., where there is a showroom and cooking lessons are given. (800) 842-5275, www.clarkecorp.com PLEASE TOUCH Not only does this Thermador electric cooktop give your countertop a clean, seamless look, the ingenious ZoneSmart automatically senses the size of your pan, then selects and activates the appropriate element. It even knows to turn itself off when pans are removed. Plus, the “bridge” elements can accommodate odd-sized or oblong pans — giving you more choices to match your cooking style. See it in action at the BSH home appliances showroom located in Canton, Mass. (877) 881-4270 Bed, Bath, Beautiful Bored by the same old choices for bedroom and bath? Take a look at these bright and bold possibilities. With eye-catching color and sleek design, they replace the predictable with pizzazz. Unexpected color combinations including orchid, mint and gold make these sheets and quilt vibrant and versatile. Mix and match with so many options. 100 percent cotton, 250 thread count percale. Imported. King quilt, $310; king sheet set, $175. Company C, Concord (800) 818-8288 www.companyc.com By combining the sleek contemporary stand with the rustic look of the rough-cut granite, this Stone Forest vanity can be a perfect fit for almost any style bath or powder room. The top and bowl are seamless, carved from a solid block of stone unlike most natural tops that require a separate bowl to be dropped in or under mounted. $1,940. Dream Kitchens, Nashua (603) 891-2916 www.adreamkitchen.com Streamers of brightly hued grosgrain ribbons form this festive shower curtain. Finished with a 3" cotton twill header with 12 buttonholes, the whimsical design coordinates with a bright palette of matching towels. $78. Garnet Hill, Franconia (800) 870-3513 www.garnethill.com The Art of Ikebana “If a man finds himself with bread in both hands, he should exchange one loaf for some flowers; since the loaf feeds the body indeed, but the flower feeds the soul.” Anonymous The word ikebana means “living flowers” or “bringing flowers to life.” The Japanese have a saying that, if we take the life of a flower, we have an obligation to make it look more beautiful. Using flowers to commune with beauty and the spiritual side of nature remains one of the most appealing facets of Japanese culture and continues to grow in popularity around the world. Sogetsu ikebana stems from the idea that ikebana can be arranged by anyone, at any time and with any materials. Historically, Buddhist monks, Samurai warriors and male teachers controlled the knowledge for hundreds of years. The rigidity of the art form, originally from China, has relaxed over the last hundred years and now allows for freer expression of the form, especially in the Sogetsu School as taught by Antoinette Drouart at her Ikebana Flower in Nashua. There are a few basic rules to be learned to create the different styles, but even beginners can create beautiful arrangements and enjoy the beauty of the Asian aesthetic. Materials: one low, flat container, several branches, vines or greenery, and several flowers. Shears sharp enough for trimming branch materials, kenzan (needlepoint flower holder) and towel. Start with materials at hand and the container filled with water and kenzan in the correct position. A towel beneath the container will keep it in position. Lesson one: The Basic Upright Style Height, width and depth are the three elements that form ikebana. These elements are expressed with three main stems, or shushi, and include the shin, the soe and the hikae. The relative height and angles of each of these main components is very important to the overall success of the arrangement. In addition to the shushi, supporting stems called jushi can be added to balance the arrangement. In ikebana the angles of the branches are measured in a specific way. When a line breaks the water perpendicularly, its angle is said to be 0 degrees. In our example the shin is 10 to 15 degrees, the soe is 45 degrees and the hikae is 75 degrees. A low, flat container is used and the flowers are fixed in position with a kezan. The diameter of the vase plus the depth of the vase is called “the size of the vase” and is the determining factor in the length of the stems. For a small-sized flat container the shin length is equal to the diameter plus the depth. The soe length is 3/4 of the shin. The hikae is 1/2 of the soe. A combination of branches and flowers are usually used in this style. After careful observation, the shin (main stem), the soe (another branch) and hikae (a flower) are selected and measured. Extra twigs and leaves are removed to minimize overlapping of branches. The kenzan is placed (as seen in the diagram) and first the shin, then the soe and finally the hikae stems are pressed into the kenzan, all the while carefully checking alignment, position and the asymmetrical balance. The water in the container should be visible as reflection is an important aspect, too. Jushi (secondary branches) are added in odd numbers and varying heights to create a sense of fullness when the arrangement is viewed from the front and side. Work is carefully examined before it is said to be finished. Antoinette Drouart Ikebana Flower 95 West Pearl St., Nashua (603) 595-8877 www.ikebanaflower.com Starstruck New Hampshire has long been a celebrity-deprived zone where stars rarely come, except to hide out (or dry out), but lately it’s been raining stars. When Tommy McCarthy built his new Irish pub, The Shaskeen, on Elm St. in Manchester, he pulled a few strings from his own musical past and, faith and begorrah, international Celtic music stars the Chieftains turned out to perform for his grand opening. They brought along Michael “Lord of the Dance” Flatley. “It’s a bit like going to Black Brimmer to find the Rolling Stones setting up their amps,” remarked one cold bystander as they roped off Elm St. to accommodate the crowds. Then, in Portsmouth, Alan Alda of “M*A*S*H” and “West Wing” fame reported for duty to wow the crowd at the first evening of The Music Hall’s “Writers on a New England Stage” series. His presentation touched upon his own recent brush with death and with the challenge that anyone faces when trying to take stock of one’s life in a memoir. And talk about product placement: world famous actor Alec Baldwin did a friend a favor recently and posed wearing one of her distinctive T shirts. The Liv’n Out Loud! line of clothing is produced in Hampstead (www.livnoutloud.com). Blips Keene Sentinel editors came out in favor of a push by a local school class to promote a bill to the N.H. Legislature designating the pumpkin as the state fruit. Sounds like the product of a slow news week, but New Hampshire’s official amphibian, the red spotted newt (who happens also to be this magazine’s mascot), has a similar pedigree and says he has no problem sharing the spotlight with a pumpkin. When a character on the Fox TV series “The O.C.” recently plugged Dartmouth and dissed rival Cornell, cheers erupted in the TV room of the Big Green’s Collis Center. And in a recent edition of college paper The Dartmouth, reporter Jessica Peet reveals “secrets of Hollywood’s Dartmouth Mafia.” Apparently so many nostalgic Dartmouth alums work in Hollywood that TV and film plugs abound. Peet listed a few in the Nov. 11 edition (available online www.thedartmouth.com). PIPE DREAM: Singer-songwriter-concept-artist Kathy Lowe (www.kathylowemusic.com) has outdone herself with her new album, “Above Water,” singing tribal lullabies into a million-gallon water tank. Get high on Lowe.