5 Simple Joys: Seattle

I’ve always been a fan of the weekend trip: sufficient time to visit favorite spots, but not lingering to the point that you feel you’ve seen everything and wish that you’d booked an earlier return flight. (My motto: Always Leave Them Wanting More.)

And so, after years away (we last visited in 2011), I found myself booking an October weekend in Seattle, my curiosity piqued by Instagram’s serving up so many tempting places to see. From touchdown on Friday afternoon to wheels up on Monday, I covered as much ground as possible — mostly by walking, and given the rainy weather all weekend, I was elated when the sun peeked out for a few brief hours on Saturday.

My 5 Simple Joys from that weekend (instagram handles included for your ogling pleasure):

1. London Plane

My very first stop after hotel check-in — I determinedly walked through a heavier-than-usual Seattle rain to get there — London Plane is an assortment of all of my favorite things assembled in one place (that would be pastry, coffee, flowers, and stationery, lest you’ve forgotten). A bountiful, beautiful display of seasonal flowers await you at the entrance and set the scene. Just past that is London Plane’s coffee bar, perfect to grab a latte to go and perhaps a sweet (but please allow yourself a moment to admire the beautiful calligraphy delineating your choices). Have time for a longer stay? London Plane’s restaurant offers two levels of seating (upstairs gives you a bird’s-eye view of the space) and I can vouch for the deliciousness of their brunch offerings (yes, I made two trips). Not to be missed if you’re anything like me. // @londonplaneseattle

2. Flora and Henri

Once my long-time sources for simple, high-quality children’s clothing, Flora and Henri, established by Jane Hedreen in 1998, has recently been updated and repositioned as a full-on lifestyle store. In my opinion, this makes the shop an even more appealing destination: the airy new bricks-and-mortar space in Pioneer Square is a joy to wander, with items that are simple, functional, and beautiful, with the bonus that you have not seen them at every other retail shop. (In fact, many of the brands were new to me: a delight.) Especially strong were the selections of sweaters and books, which makes sense given Seattle’s weather tendencies. // @flora_henri

3. Le Pichet

I will admit upfront that dining, for me, is best when I can eat at the bar (even better if there is a selection of red wine from France). And so Le Pichet had me at hello. Charmingly cozy on a rainy evening. I stayed true to the classics, ordering a fresh salade verte with hazelnuts followed by bavette grillée, but I chose decadence for dessert: Le Pichet’s specialty, chocolat chaud, served in two dishes: one bittersweet chocolate; one whipped cream. Perfection.  // @lepichetseattle

4. Red Ticking

Pam Robinson has assembled the interiors shop of my dreams. Treasures abound, from the back of the shop,  given over to cubby holes filled with stacks of vintage floral and striped fabrics, to the center table, laden with beautiful dishes and housewares, to the perimeter, home to an abundance of accessories, from cushions to artwork to lamps to baskets to gift-worthy foodstuffs. Every item is artfully arranged and displayed, and the space is simply heaven. You’ll want it all, but it’s even worth a visit solely to window shop. // @redticking

5. Kurt Farm Shop

It is with sadness that I tell you about this delightful little shop, as Yelp reports it has now closed. No matter: Kurt Timmermeister’s charming jewel box of an ice cream shop was merely an introduction to learning more about Kurtwood Farm, Timmermeister’s Vashon Island dairy farm. (The shop’s closing will allow Timmermeister to devote more time to his farm and to photography.) For a taste of what you can expect, treat yourself to Farm Food, two seasonal booklets (Timmermeister describes them as serialized cookbooks) that celebrate life on the farm. // @kurtwood_farms

simple pretty seattle -- 5 simple joys in the city

photos taken and edited by jane potrykus

n.b. out of enthusiasm (or utter lunacy) i have started *another instagram account devoted to my favorite finds in the cities that i visit. please give @simpleprettycities a look + let me know what you’d like to see next

5 Simple Joys: Calendars and Planners 2020

2020 calendars and planners | simple pretty

1. Moontree Letterpress Leaf Identification Flat Calendar this is the calendar I wait for every year. Artist and designer Rebecca Kutys has an admiral gift for translating our botanical world into simple, charming illustrations. As part of my family room pinboard, it’s a handy, calming resource. (And word to the wise: it regularly sells out.)

2. Molesworth&Bird Hand Pressed Seaweed Calendar a recent addition to my “things I’m obsessed with” list is seaweed: likely due to the sublime subdued colors and soothing shapes. Hanging this calendar is like having twelve seaweed prints that you can enjoy one month at a time.

3. Appointed Undated Task Planner this planner is practically perfect in every way, from the lush fern green color, to the monthly and weekly planning pages, complete with tasks lists and a bit of extra space for notes. The only thing that would improve it for me would be to get rid of the “undated” bit, as I prefer the contrast of typeset perfection with my own wonky, unpredictable handwriting.

4. Shinola 12 Month Runwell Planner my preferred dated planner option, with month at a glance as well as each week spread over two pages, and lined pages for the inevitable notes. (In fact, a notes section is necessary as I keep a list of books read over the year in my planner.) Four color options to boot, including my personal favorites, pink and orange.

5. Monograph Weekly Calendar a new-to-me brand that I’ve gone bonkers for this autumn. Along with a planner, I’m constantly making lists to keep my week in order. (Paper forever!) This version is appealing as it gives Sunday a space all its own —  not lumped in with Saturday — and the set up works well with how I think about the week ahead. (Perhaps hard to find in the US — though there seems to be a NYC store — so may I also suggest Sugar Paper’s new notepads, which offer six different ways to attractively and efficiently wrangle your day and/or week.)

photo credits: 1. moontreeletterpress.com 2. molesworthandbird.com 3. appntd.com 4. shinola.com 5. societyoflifestyle.com | layout and design by jane potrykus

5 Simple Joys: Boston

So … after three and a half years … I’m back? Hear me out. The faster the Internet proceeds, the more I pull back. (Age, and a general sense of contrarianism could have something to do with it.) But I still feel the pull to share, and the passion for sharing favorite spots discovered over my travels is strong as ever. In the last month, I was asked — again — when I was going to get around to my travel book. My response was something along the lines of “Does the world need another city guide book?” and I think that answer to that is a resounding NO.*

Instead, what I’d like to propose is a recurring series featuring simple joys.** The sublime snippets you remember from travels. The quiet experiences that stay with you long after the bags are unpacked and the laundry is put away and you’re back into that … routine. Embracing simple joys allows the infusion of pleasure into the ordinary. And so, I’d like to launch this series with five simple Boston joys.

1.  Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Many facets of the Gardner Museum appeal (the art, the building itself, the story of the 1990 theft of thirteen works, for starters) but as far as I’m concerned, the courtyard garden is the draw. Visit during the autumn when you can gape at the glorious chrysanthemums-on-steroids. They’re magnificent.

2.  Craigie on Main Burger

Over a recent day-trip to Provincetown, the return ferry ride was spent chatting with a group of Boston area cyclists. They were understandably food-focused, having just spent the day riding from Boston to P-town “for fun”. I decided to work them for info, and asked if they would recommend a favorite restaurant, and also, their choice for Boston’s best burger. Craigie on Main was the answer for both options. Information in hand, we arrived at Craigie on Main just before opening time (5:30 pm) and noticed a healthy queue outside (a very good sign). When the doors opened, everyone rushed to the bar. As soon as we were seated the bartender asked “Are you having the burger?”  and we immediately replied yes. Little did we know that speed was of the essence, as only 18 burgers are served each night, so it was important to stake your claim. Now you know.

3.  Bodega

In an attempt to expand my Boston circumference of confidence, I decided to wander Mass Ave after the usual Newbury Street stroll. As I walked, I noticed a shop on one of the side streets with the most unusual frontage. The windows were lined with household goods like laundry detergent and canned goods. At first glance, it appeared abandoned, but lovingly, meticulously so. Upon entering, the tiny entry space gives the sense of being in a movie-set Bodega, but then the automatic doors open which give way to the airy, of-the-moment clothing store, and you think to yourself, “brilliant”, even though you are decades past the target audience.

4.   Bar at the Beacon Hill Hotel

Never has a hotel bar felt less like a hotel bar and more like the local watering hole. The regular cast of characters tend to highlight your presence-as-sore-thumb, but after your first drink (have a Harpoon IPA), you won’t mind …

5.   Trophies under the Longfellow Bridge

So weird! So unexpected! So utterly charming! Why/who/what/all-the-questions as to the presence of an assortment of sports trophies “installed” under the bridge that connects Beacon Hill to Kendall Square. Even more so as the “exhibit” returned after a reconstruction project completed in 2018.

photos taken and edited by jane potrykus, with the exception of photo 5, found via the boston globe at twitter

*That said, I would buy one if it was appealingly packaged. Because yes, I am a sucker for good design.

**Pretty joys may follow.

My Stuff

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.

jane potrykus: my stuff | simple pretty

* 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)

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Favorites: May 2016

des gâteaux et du pain, paris | simple pretty

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:

Instagram

  1. #laboratorioparavicini
  2. Beautiful dappled shadows …
  3. Afternoon fix.
  4. Georgian charm
  5. come visit our new garden space …
  6. Nasturtium babies.
  7. untitled
  8. May at Spring
  9. Naming new ink colors …
  10. No leaves on the trees …
  11. a SUPER duper SNEAK PEEK …
  12. Simple morning sketch …
  13. Ending the best mother’s day …
  14. green pinny
  15. Soft shells from Maryland …

To Watch

  1. 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.
  2. Love and Friendship can’t wait to see Whit Stillman’s take on Jane Austen. (Metropolitan is one of my all-time favorite movies.)

To Read

  1. Ducksoup Cookbook simple, seasonal food, beautifully photographed with an inventive format. And I still haven’t eaten here. That needs to change.
  2. 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.

To Listen

  1. Tame Impala introduction via my buddy, and reinforced by Togetherness, “Currents” is infectiously good psychedelic rock.
  2. 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)