|Photo by Al Whitaker|
It’s no secret that I’ve been having a passionate and intense love affair. Friends are aware of it, even people whom I have yet to meet but follow me on social media, have commented about it.
It’s a relationship that inspires, and has ignited a fire within me, one I thought would never burn again. It’s a love affair that has taken on a life of its own, a life that has played out publicly and has been the topic of conversation around the Lake Minnetonka area, which is now why I think it’s time I addressed it.
If you have not been living under a rock you have probably heard or seen that I, Natalie Hagemo am madly and passionately in love with the town of Excelsior. It’s a relationship 20 years in the making, but one which has recently been infused with new life.
If you have ever been in love you know that your senses become amplified. Everything taste, smells and feels better. You find yourself wanting to be a better person, wanting to take better care of yourself and the object of your affection. It is a two way street of enticing adventure.
I’ve had a few experiences recently, which have taken my love of Excelsior to new heights. I met Debra Antone who opened Scusi at 221 Water Street. Scusi for me has become a place of inspiration and self-discovery.
Before you assume I’ve lost my mind, just hear me out. Go downstairs and walk into Scusi and you will soon learn what I’m talking about. This is not your average home décor store.
First as you descend the stairs into Scusi you immediately pick up the amazing scent of their handmade, natural candles. Lavender is my absolute favorite. As soon as I walk in and take my first inhalation I let out a relaxing sigh.
As the scent of lavender floats over you, you begin to hear the soft sounds of Italian Opera playing gently in the background. As your eyes scan the room you will see an ever-changing collection of the most beautiful table settings, linen napkins and table clothes that you have ever seen set below and around crystal chandeliers, unique decorative pieces and even wine glasses from the 1800’s.
Next there is the wishing wall. The beautiful, original brick wall from another era was unearthed during Scusi’s renovation. Antone now has visitors from all over who come to Scusi, write down a wish and slip in into one of the many secret holes in the wall.
On days when I need a bit of an escape from a hectic morning or to escape the less than desirable weather, I find myself escaping to Scusi. Antone has an enthusiasm and giggle that is quite contagious. Be sure to have her share the stories behind some of the items she has collected. I’ve had many conversations with her at Scusi, which have recharged me in many ways.
The best thing to come from my visits with Antone at Scusi is I have learned the art of what I call “Showing myself a good time”. We all have linens, towels, dishes etc that we reserve for guests or special occasions. I’ve recently discovered the beauty of experiencing these things for no good reason other than I like a pretty table setting and a nice smelling candle.
During one of our unusually warmer days I took out my linen napkin and china and made myself a beautiful table setting for one on my deck, where I enjoyed my dinner. I then took my candles from Scusi and had a lovely candle lit bubble bath followed by a walk across the street to the lake where I sipped a glass of wine and watched the sun set.
I’ve since been using my nicer things once reserved for company or special occasions to enjoy time by myself and for myself. Antone and Scusi, like most of Excelsior continues to inspire me to laugh, love and truly live while discovering joy in the simple things. If that isn’t the love of a lifetime, I don’t know what is.