48 Socially-Distanced Hours in Hudson/Berkshires/Litchfield

simple pretty hudson-berkshires-litchfield

Have you ever planned a getaway around a hotel? I do it all the time. In late July, we booked a quick trip to the Hudson Valley/Berkshires/Litchfield area primarily so I could stay at The Inn at Kenmore Hall, which has been tempting me since its opening in mid-2018. The reason? I’ve long-admired Frank Muytjens’ designs and aesthetic. (At one time, he was head of menswear for J.Crew.) Muytjens and his partner, Scott Edward Cole, have created an comfortable but elegant bed-and-breakfast, lending their personal touch to the historic Berkshires property, and creating outdoor spaces that take advantage of the site’s majestic views.* (I was constantly taking mental design notes over our stay.)

inn at kenmore hall | simple pretty

fell hard for this space

inn at kenmore hall | simple pretty

the glorious morning view

An abbreviated synopsis of our escapades …

Day One: Late-morning arrival and late-afternoon check-in means time to explore straight away. After securing the rental car, we headed south from Albany. Our first stop was Hudson, where we walked Warren Street, popping into Finch and Clove&Creek, before making our way to Talbott and Arding. (I was eager to see their brand-new location on Allen Street. Selfishly, I miss the charm of their cozy original space, but at the same time am happy they’re growing and thriving.)

talbott and arding | simple pretty

treats at talbott & arding

As many Hudson shops are closed mid-week, we grabbed a sandwich at Olde Hudson and soldiered on. Next stop, Millbrook, home to the brand-new garden and home shop Orangerie, whose greenhouse and gardens did not disappoint. (There was a photo shoot taking place the day of our visit, so I’m guessing that a shelter mag feature is forthcoming.)

orangerie, millbrook | simple pretty

orangerie in millbrook

Goals for the day secured, we wound our way back north, stopping whenever the view demanded it, including a stop to poke around Millerton’s shopping area. Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted, given a tour of the house and property, unpacked, and then headed to Lenox for an early dinner at Bistro Zinc.

Day Two: Our day started with breakfast delivered to the door of our cottage. (I’m still thinking about the doughnuts that were a surprise extra to our order!) Motivated to stay outdoors as much as possible, we decided to visit the gardens (and house) at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s home in Lenox. It was a warm and sunny day, perfect for walking the wooded property, taking in the contemporary sculpture exhibition and chatting with local group of artists who were on site painting en plein air.

garden area at the mount | simple pretty

a fitting edith wharton quote given the current circumstances

Our tour complete, we started the day’s explorations, including the find of the trip, Stockton’s Lost Lamb Patisserie. Owner Claire Raposo, a 21-year-old graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Paris, had me completely charmed with her petite boutique full of tasty pastries and treats and darling branded accessories.

the lost lamb patisserie | simple pretty

the lost lamb’s wall of branded merchandise

Cookies procured, we then continued on to Great Barrington, serendipitously discovering a brand-new wine shop, Départ (and a quick pop-in to Rubiners) before heading to Connecticut for lunch on the lawn at The White Hart Inn (takeaway sandwiches from their Provisions shop) before heading to New Preston to have a thorough exploration of the visual and retail wonder, Plain Goods.

plain goods shop | simple pretty

plain goods (obsessed)

Circling back home, we ended the day at the Prairie Whale, with pizza and wine in their —  surprise! — summer pizza garden.

pizza garden at the prairie whale | simple pretty

prairie whale’s pizza garden

Day Three: Our leaving-day breakfast was served on the Inn’s patio/terrace and yes, there were more doughnuts! We packed our bags, headed back to the Lost Lamb for a couple more cookies (where we were met with a healthy waiting-for-opening-time queue) and hit the road. En route to Albany, we stopped at Bartlett House in Ghent before returning to Hudson for lunch (hotdogs at Buttercup, though I regret not trying the lobster roll) and one last shop wander, including a favorite interiors/antiques/inspiration shop, Red Chair on Warren, The Secret Gardener, Nine Cakes (more cookies!), Florent (natural skincare), as well as a peek into James Coviello and Warren Battle‘s jewel-box of a summer pop-up.

garden furnishings at red chair on warren | simple pretty

patinated garden furnishings at red chair on warre

Getaway complete, we returned to Albany, boarded our flight, and it was back to reality. Until next time …

all photos, layout and type by jane potrykus

*you can read more about the property’s history, take a virtual tour from the Inn’s early days and of course, follow along on Instagram

48 Socially-Distanced Hours in Atlanta

Buoyed by the success of my April Charleston trip, Atlanta beckoned.* It’s been ages since my last visit, and I’ve long admired the creative spirit of the town, which at present revolves around bakeries and the design genius of Family Brothers (admittedly, those categories can intersect). Curious about how it went? Follow along:

Sunday The first stop, post hotel check-in, was Atlanta hot-spot Ponce City Market (PCM), a mixed-use space that was formerly home to a Sears retail shop and warehouse (read more about the property’s history here.) The site now bustles with activity from the food and retail operations, apartments and a rooftop amusement park (with city views and a serious weekend queue).

While the initial draw was Root Baking Co (weekends only, and as we arrived just before Sunday close I was just happy there were still cookies available), it was equally fun to check out Archer Paper Goods, a perfect little paper provisioner which at the moment boasts an enchanting pencil shop in the front window.

After the crowds of PCM, it was a nice change of pace to settle in at the hotel and meet an old blogging friend, for the first time in person, for low-key drinks and dinner.

Monday The morning started with a leisurely stroll though Piedmont Park, passing the Botanical Garden (closed Mondays), and eventually necessitated an Uber to The Buttery. Warning: The Buttery is outrageously adorable and well worth the time and effort. Inside, you’ll find a full pastry case (a late-breakfast doughnut and takeaway cookies for me) and assorted snacks and provisions and cocktail mixes** In cooler  months, The Buttery also offers hot dinners for pick up.

Late morning found us at Westside Provisions District where we spent the bulk of our time perusing Sid Mashburn and Ann Mashburn‘s flagship retail shops; Le Jardin Français, an amazing florist; and a peek at Perrine’s Wine Shop. The center hosts some great restaurants, too. If we had more time, I would have loved to return for dinner at Marcel or JCT Kitchen.

We then headed east to Inman Park in search of a good lunch spot. Serendipitously, we chose Victory Sandwich (a full bar and perfectly crafted petite sandwiches – I recommend the Tea Bird). After lunch, we followed the BeltLine pedestrian trail down to Krog Street Market for a food-hall wander before heading back to the hotel to escape the southern sun for a bit.

At dinner time, we ventured back to PCM to try H&F Burger. (The original plan was to eat at Holeman&Finch’s Public House, but it is currently closed as it relocates to Midtown.) Luckily, Mondays are much quieter and we were able to command prime seating with no wait. (The burger was delicious). To cap off the evening, we noticed signs in the market leading the way to the BeltLine. Taking the BeltLine again made for an enjoyable, easy walk back to the hotel. (The Uber rides had convinced me it was far away: it was not.) It made me happy as we got to see not only more of the city, but more of its people. The final leg of our route took us through Piedmont Park, which ended the day much as we started. It was a glorious spring evening, the park was full … and in the moment, it reminded me a bit of London.

Tuesday En route to the airport, we stopped for breakfast at The Little Tart Bakeshop. (surprise! another bakery!) The caffeine and pastry breakfast went down with time to spare, so we used our last moments in the city to walk from Little Tart’s Grant Park location to its newest spot in Summerhill (we passed the Atlanta Zoo on the way). Both locations are darling, but in my view, the advantage goes to Summerhill as there is a soft-serve shop, Big Softie, next door … mark that for my next visit, Atlanta.

*the South is getting priority at the moment because soon, I will have zero interest in paying to be hot. 

**delivery within a four-mile radius, and for the locationally-challenged, shipping is available for non-perishable goods. May I suggest the Margarita Mix.

photo credits: top row (l to r) ponce city market, archer paper goods, the buttery; middle row (l to r) ann mashburn and le jardin français; bottom  row  (l to r) victory sandwich, h&f burger, little tart

all photos and layout by jane potrykus

48 Socially-Distanced Hours in Charleston

As soon as the CDC announced travel was low-risk for fully vaccinated people, I knew our inaugural adventure would be to Charleston. Not only because late-April weather is bound to be better in Charleston than Chicago, but because I had been torturing myself at Instagram by following the Post House Inn account since it opened in August 2020,  and knew this was my moment to strike. (Also: it was our 30th wedding anniversary and I really wanted to have a “real” celebration if I could.)

Fearful of overstaying our welcome, we kept our trip to under 48 hours on the ground with a tightly edited list of spots to visit. Want to know my favorites? Read on:

post house inn: room 4 in the late-day sun

Post House Inn  Stop one was (of course) the aforementioned Post House Inn … we arrived late afternoon, checked in and realized that my Instagram obsession paid off: the inn is delightful, the rooms simply but appealing decorated and I felt at home right away. As we had a bit of time before dinner, we went for a wander around the Old Village district of Mt. Pleasant, where Post House is nestled. (I hadn’t been there in ages, since the days of visiting Patriot’s Point when our son was young.) It was nice to have a leisurely stroll, admiring southern homes in full-spring flower with the scent of jasmine filling the air, then circling back to the hotel for a French 75 cocktail followed by dinner al fresco. Our server, Zoe, was a relocated Chicagoan and we hit it off straight away — she expertly guided us through the wine options and also smartly pointed me towards the burger for dinner, which was an excellent decision.

all set for al fresco dinner (graphic design courtesy of über-talented charleston studio stitch design co)

post house inn’s burger: perfection

I can’t say enough nice things about Post House Inn: the design is top-notch of course (I knew that going in) but the food was great, too, and best of all, the staff was friendly and helpful and really went out of their way to make us feel at-home during our short stay. (And yes, I bought the Post House tote bag I’d been eyeing for months as a souvenir.) Already thinking about my next visit, as room 3’s wallpaper needs to be experienced.

Elizabeth Stuart Design  Easily the serendipitous surprise of the trip. In the planning phase, I had noted Elizabeth Stuart Design as a “to visit” spot as it’s quite close to Post House. In my head, I had assumed it was an interiors shop, where I could pop in for some inspiration and hopefully, find a thing or two that would work chez moi. What I was not expecting was the expansive and simply amazing garden shop. (Amazing!)

There were tables, chairs, glasshouses, and plant containers, all expertly and elegantly displayed. I wanted to linger and drink it in, as it was the closest I’ve felt to being at Petersham Nurseries in a long, long, time. (I was kind of hoping I’d stumble across a bar serving rose-petal prosecco bellinis.)

They had just recently hosted a book signing for Christopher Spitzmiller and the indoor space, which is more focused on lifestyle and interiors, luckily still had the flower arrangements for the event on display. The heightened effect was glorious. I cannot wait to go back.*

glass house

containers for days

the interiors shop (with pretty flowers)

Babas on Cannon  The other main draw for my Charleston adventure was Babas on Cannon … which I have been thinking about ever since my first visit to Babas in January 2020. In what seems impossible, but justified, Babas is even busier and buzzier during Covid. The menu has been edited and condensed (and helpfully written on the front windows); ordering is inside, one-party-at-a-time  (there’s an app to streamline the going-inside bit for locals); food is prepared to-go or delivered to one of the charming outside tables … the effect was winning as ever.

Babas is picking up well-deserved buzz in town, too: a shop owner around the corner from Babas raved about the g&t’s (per her they’re the only g&t she likes) and the ham and beurre sandwich. Following her advice, I ordered the ham and beurre for lunch, and my husband got a g&t (the cocktails all come pre-bottled and sealed). The g&t was so good we came back at cocktail hour so I could have my “own”.**

babas on cannon: (most of) the menu

ham and beurre

gin and tonic for one: perfection in style and substance

* For a deeper dive, if you like gardens as much as I do, you’ll enjoy this video tour of Elizabeth Stuart Designs owner Muffie Faith’s garden.

** I seriously wish there were a way to mail order a case of g&t’s … visions of a garden party wafting through my brain.

all photos by jane potrykus

E. Frances Mother’s Day Cards

queen mom

Newport, RI-based E. Frances has some darling Mother’s Day cards out this year. I spotted these at my local flower shop on one of my (very) regular flower runs, but if you’re not in my neck of the woods, there’s always the E. Frances online shop.

thanks for raising me (my favorite: perhaps a 23yo boy is taking note)

mommy clock (accurate)

images via efrancespaper.com

Easter Musings

speckled praline eggs: Madeleine Floyd artwork

In late March, Chicago hangs on the cusp of spring, with warm days sending everyone into a happy delirium, with not-infrequent slides into chilly temps to keep our egos in check. (In my own yard, the snowdrops are the only flowers in bloom, with the narcissus and tulips just starting to poke through the soil.)

And yet the goings-on keep going-on …

With Easter coming this weekend, spring-themed presents have been in abundance on the interwebs. I treated myself to some egg-shaped decorated cookies from Tatte Bakery for some friends and neighbors (and me), but if I were still in England, 2021 would have been all about the Chocolate Detective‘s bird-themed chocolate eggs, with cartons gorgeously illustrated by artist Madeleine Floyd. (And naturally, I added her to my Instagram follow list, too.)

I’m still chipping away at home projects, and like the weather, am running in fits and starts. The current phase is “procrastination” as I’m terrible at making decisions: I regularly second-guess myself. As such, the new site The Expert has me intrigued, as it allows you to set up a 55-minute consultation with a designer from their impressive roster. Wanting to learn more about the backstory, I listened to the Business of Home podcast’s interview with The Expert Founders Leo Seigal and Jake Arnold (and truth be told, I’m even more intrigued now that I’ve learned they’re Brits … perhaps they’ll persuade Rita Konig to join?!? — with London-travel grounded, a girl can dream.)

Speaking of home design, Rue Magazine has just launched a print edition*, and I’m happy to add something fresh to the stack. While I purchased it primarily for the Post House Inn story (yes, still obsessed), I was pleased with the range of projects selected and am looking forward to where this title is headed.

And to close, travel dreams. Probably not getting to Europe any time soon, vaccine or not, so I’m starting to assemble a domestic travel hit-list, and Atlanta is one of the early favorites. So many great food places that also have brilliant design. Little Tart, Root Baking Co, Star Provisions, The Buttery, and pretty much any place with graphic design by Family Bros. … do they walk in Atlanta? Because I feel I’m going to have to be doing a LOT of walking …

image at top via chocolatedetective.co.uk

* helpful hint: while Rue Magazine’s stockist locator will send you to a variety of locations, Barnes&Noble actually HAD it.