One of my favorite recurring features in Vanity Fair magazine is “My Stuff”, probably because 1. it tends to feature interesting people; not just the celebrity du jour 2. I love details! and 3. I enjoy playing “could we be friends” based on those details. (For example, I’m convinced Sofia Coppola and I would get along: we’d just talk about our shared love for peonies, prosecco, and Paris.)
This blog has served me well. Ten years ago, prompted by my voracious consumption of the burgeoning lifestyle blog concept — and huge credit here should go to Maria Vettese, whose elegant and eloquent writing at Port2Port gave rise to a whole generation of bloggers — I decided I had something to add to the conversation. I started by speaking of the joys and irritations that arose from living in suburbia while feeling part of a much bigger world. Expressing those thoughts forced me to be both observant and critical of that world. Through editing, I not only refined my aesthetic but became comfortable and confident in it. Blogging allowed me to continue to have an identity of “Jane” and not just “___’s mother”. Over the years, I’ve connected with like-minded and wonderful people from all over the world, many of whom I’ve met “in real life”, and am grateful for their friendship.
But I feel that it’s time to move on. Not only am I no longer a young woman, but much as an internal voice led me to start blogging, that same voice is now gently (but persistently) telling me it’s okay to stop. To let go. To be. To enjoy what’s next.*
And so I have come to the end, dear readers, and would like to close by sharing “My Stuff”.**
Thank you. It cannot be said enough.
* as it’s 2016, and you can’t completely escape a life online and still feel connected, I’ll still be Instagramming flowers and shops, and Twittering political frustrations (an unending supply, it seems), and Tumblr-ing fashion photos, but all of these outlets will most likely become more “Jane” and less “simple pretty” as time goes on.
** with apologies and gratitude to the art department at Vanity Fair for my conceptual appropriation/homage.
image credits: flowermuse.com (peony), foodnetwork.com (french 75), jane potrykus (photo + petersham nurseries), barneys.com (rose 31), repetto.com (repetto), brad barket/AP via npr.org (jon stewart)
des gâteaux et du pain, paris
May is one big buffet of bittersweet this year. Right on schedule, nature is exploding in a barrage of pinks … we spent a sunny weekend in Paris … it’s light until 9pm. But at the same time, high school graduation is NEXT WEEK. And the emotions of goodbyes are washing over me. With some very trying times over the extent of our London experiment, the expression “the days are long but the years are short” has never seemed more apt. Yet time marches on, and so with celebration (and trepidation) we move forward, while trying to stay present. I drink in the beauty of gardens, and roses, and peonies — and enjoy a pastry or two, forever seeking the wonder in it all.
A few of my current favorites:
- Beautiful dappled shadows …
- Afternoon fix.
- Georgian charm
- come visit our new garden space …
- Nasturtium babies.
- May at Spring
- Naming new ink colors …
- No leaves on the trees …
- a SUPER duper SNEAK PEEK …
- Simple morning sketch …
- Ending the best mother’s day …
- green pinny
- Soft shells from Maryland …
- Love, Nina I raced through Nina Stibbe’s cleverly-written book about her experiences as a nanny for a London household. Hoping that the TV show, adapted by Nick Hornby is equally entertaining.
- Love and Friendship can’t wait to see Whit Stillman’s take on Jane Austen. (Metropolitan is one of my all-time favorite movies.)
- Ducksoup Cookbook simple, seasonal food, beautifully photographed with an inventive format. And I still haven’t eaten here. That needs to change.
- The Course of Love the second novel from Alain de Botton. As I was captivated by On Love (his first), I can’t wait for this to hit my iPad on the US release date.
- Tame Impala introduction via my buddy, and reinforced by Togetherness, “Currents” is infectiously good psychedelic rock.
- Prince always
photo at top: des gâteaux et du pain, 89 rue du bac, paris. pastry as art gallery (as only paris can do) with sublime vanilla sablés, and – surprise! – open sundays. (jane potrykus)
The National Stationery Show wraps up in NYC today, and while I wasn’t able to attend in person this year, I’ve been tracking the goings-on from afar. A standout was the introduction of new planners from two of my favorite stationery companies (and people), Sugar Paper and Appointed. If you love a good planner — and dream of an elegantly organized life — as much as I do, you’ll want to track these down when they arrive in stores.
Sugar Paper A wildly successful multi-year stationery collaboration with Target taught Sugar Paper’s Chelsea Shukov and Jamie Grobecker a lot about the world of planners. They’ve taken the best details and feedback from their Target line and developed an in-house Sugar Paper agenda for 2017. Covered in chambray, the agenda boasts gold-fold accents — including a much-obsessed over gold for the wire ring — and has tabbed indexes by month, as well as sections in the back to track birthdays and thank-you notes. While simple and chic on its own, team Sugar Paper has also added Italian leather accessories — including an agenda cover in pink, with personalization available! — to make your workday just a bit prettier. Pretty is good: pretty and organized is even better.
The Sugar Paper agenda launches fall 2016.
Appointed Designer Suann Song’s year-old line of notebooks and accessories, all manufactured in the US, hits my aesthetic sweet spot. So I’m very happy to announce that 2017 marks the addition of a weekly planner to the Appointed lineup. Suann extensively researched (and prototyped) the design, and her thoughtfulness shows. The weekly notebook planner is the perfect minimalist’s resource, with details like grid paper (for neater handwriting), easy to review month-at-a-glance pages, a list of key holidays for reference, and a section at the back for notes. The cover is made from water resistant book cloth, offered in a choice of three colors.
Appointed also launched a binder version of the planner at the show: the binder system allows for the ultimate in customization, offering inserts for day views, budget, project and meal planning, as well as dividers to keep everything perfectly in its place. Suann has a knack for melding simplicity to functionality, and I’m excited to see where she takes the utilitarian luxe® desktop as Appointed continues to grow.
Appointed’s planners are available to pre-order now; shipping starts June 1.
image credits: sugar paper product photos courtesy of chelsea shukov; appointed product photos courtesy of suann song. layout and type by jane potrykus
Some people have all the luck. And then some people have both luck and talent. Susan Branch is one of those people; a natural artist who writes like a close girlfriend and lends an undercurrent of sweetness to everything she does.*
heart of the home – 30th anniversary edition (coming this fall)
My introduction to her work was her very first book, Heart of the Home (which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year with an updated, expanded reprint). Looking back, it reads like an early iteration of a lifestyle blog: the recipes are presented as mini paintings, handwritten** and illustrated in watercolor, with tips and advice sprinkled in to boot. I was newly married when I discovered it, and was very grateful for those tips and advice, as it made cooking and keeping house seem like such FUN. As someone who never had an older sister, I was glad to have such helpful, positive advice.
why i might feel we’re on that first-name basis :)
I fell for Susan’s style (and yes, it just feels like we’re on a first-name basis) and gobbled up each of her new cookbooks as soon as it was published. She sent out newsletters, too, equal to her books in charm. As a self-annointed super-fan, I was excited each time I saw her return address in my mail box. Over time, those infrequent snail-mail newsletters became more frequent email updates, as she started to blog. And then, Susan gave those stories a permanent, printed home. Her first book, A Fine Romance, highlighted all that she finds romantic and exciting about England, including a delightful visit to Beatrix Potter’s home. I find myself going back to it for a dose of positivity whenever I’m having a London pity party.
a quick snapshot of susan’s approach to life
Her readers’ enthusiastic response to A Fine Romance inspired her to continue on: This new set of books, released approximately six months apart, chronicles Susan’s adult life: her first job (and how she met her first husband), her natural enthusiasm for all things house and home, discovering her talent for illustration and painting, the highs of friendship (and unbelievable right-place-at-the-right-time adventures), the lows of heartbreak, and the joys of starting anew all the way across the country. (Also, the I-totally-get-it reason that she no longer travels by airplane!)
As someone who struggles immensely to write in a way that feels approachable and readable, I admit I’m a bit irritated to find out that Susan is a gifted writer, too. I found myself racing through each book: The Fairy Tale Girl, which ends in heartbreak, left me impatiently and eagerly awaiting book two, Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams, and its happier storyline. (As a person who’s forever searching for the perfect house, the story behind her loving care for and restoration of her very first cottage on Martha’s Vineyard was an inspiration. She’s definitely a lemons-to-lemonade kind of girl, and I hope to emulate that spirit when I have my own house again.)
a favorite quotation
I can’t recommend these books (or her blog) highly enough. (And Amazon readers agree.) Susan is on a book tour at the moment: if you’re lucky enough to live near a bookstore that’s hosting an event, go. And hooray, she’s also coming Across the Pond in September! As (non) luck would have it, I’ll be in the US dropping my son off at university — and sobbing madly — while she’s here. But don’t let that stop YOU.
her first painting: geraniums
p.s. I’m purposefully not giving away too much of the story so that you’ll appreciate each serendipitous detail all the more.
p.p.s. Thank you Susan Branch for sending me copies of these books all the way to London: I’m sad that our paths won’t cross in September. Rain check?
* She’s freakishly lucky. Wait until you read about all the people she’s met randomly.
** As a handwriting nut who always wishes her own handwriting were better, I spent hours trying to emulate Susan’s style.
photo credits: amazon.com (fairy tale girl and isle of dreams ccovers), susanbranch.com (heart of the home cover)
iphone snapshot excerpts from the fairy tale girl and martha’s vineyard, isle of dreams by jane potrykus, for review purposes.
‘in bloom’ notebook
Filed under “Patience Rewarded” is a lovely assortment of new paper goods from Somerset-based artist Laura Stoddart. Launched back in January at Top Drawer London (I was giddy with anticipation in the run-up to the show), the scale of her new drawings differs slightly from her earlier style (the people are slightly bigger these days), but the overall effect retains Stoddart’s signature whimsy. My favorite item from the launch is the “In Bloom” notecard set as I love her way with flowers, but the other ranges, “Tea Time” and “Odd Dogs”, are equally English in feel and beautifully illustrated. Glad to see you back, Ms. Stoddart. (Please) keep it coming …
‘in bloom’ note cards
‘tea time’ list pad
laura stoddart at top drawer london / january 2016
preview of the line at top drawer
image credits: laurastoddart.com (product photos), jane potrykus (top drawer photos)