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.

New Kartotek Cards

kartotek 'you can do it' greeting card | simple pretty

you can do it

Pretty paper never fails to cheer me up. These cards, among a set of new releases from Copenhagen-based studio Kartotek, did the trick this week. See the full assortment here.

kartotek 'it's your birthday' greeting card | simple pretty

it’s your birthday

kartotek 'hello little one' greeting card | simple pretty

hello little one

images via kartotekcopenhagen.com

find a kartotek stockist near you here

March Update (aka One Year In)

It’s hard to believe (and on the other hand, quite easy to believe) that we’ve crossed the one-year mark of Pandemic Life. New routines have been necessarily established, horizons have shrunk and and with them, expectations, which are now sometimes as simple as “Is it cocktail hour yet?” while we await our turn for the freeing arm jab.

True to my procrastinating tendencies, sensing we’re now in the late-stages of the pandemic, I’ve switched into high gear, prodded further not only by the improving weather but also by reading Ann Patchett’s recent paean to getting rid of “stuff” in the New Yorker. Her successes could be my successes (in true American fashion, it did involve a bit of retail therapy at the Container Store) and I am shedding the weight of accumulated things while also organizing, à la Martha, the items that remain. (Perfectionism? Check.)

In this spirit of organizing, I’ve also become obsessed with baskets. I’ve been seeing fantastic baskets everywhere this year, from Howe London’s square and round log baskets, to Maison Bengal’s wonderful assortment in Hogla (seagrass) and jute, to Tara Guerard’s delightful new bicycle basket line, May Cabas, inspired by Parisian market baskets and appealing straight to my romantic visions of being, well,  anywhere-but-here.

Finally, some cures for any twinges of melancholy: I’ve taken comfort in the many vicarious experiences on offer during this year at home. One such example is Stanley Tucci, whose new CNN series Searching for Italy seems tailor-made to the moment, guiding us breezily and warmly through the regions of Italy through food and people. (The CNN website helpfully has put together an index of the places visited for when we all are ready to get there ourselves.)

Another is British floral designer Sarah Statham (@simplybyarrangement at Instagram), who put together an exquisite booklet, The Flower Fettler’s Year, chronicling her past year in flowers. I ordered a copy, and it arrived, beautifully packaged with a set of postcards, wrapped carefully in marbleized paper. (pictured at top) What a treat it was to sit, read, reflect, and realize that though we are very far apart at the moment, we are connected, too.

Here’s to more of those connections as 2021 unfolds.

photo at top by jane potrykus

January again …

shepard baking co sweets | simple pretty

It’s January again. A time for new habits, whether it’s dry-January (truth be told, this is not the year for that), or exercise, or just general self-improvement. Like most of us, I’ve already radically re-jiggered my life thanks to lockdown, and so I view this new year as a time of re-commitment to the re-ordered world.

Here are a few things I’m relying on as we roll into 2021:

  • I am cooking more than ever before … and in order to minimize shopping trips, I need to be more organized than I was in my pre-pandemic “let’s run in and pick up a few things for dinner” life. I’ve found Appointed’s weekly meal planner (a free download +  there is an abundance of elegantly-designed options to choose from) to be an invaluable planning source.
  • I’m also cutting back on sugar after the bacchanal of Christmas, but was delighted to try Shepard Baking Co’s package of meltaways and caramels (pictured at top) over a December pop-up and am hoping to get to the new Wicker Park location of Lost Larson very soon to try their cinnamon roll, with a ham and cheese smørrebrød for balance.
  • What would a new-year’s resolution be without a commitment to exercise? I bought a mini-trampoline back in 2017, but what really got me hooked on the workout was The Ness launching a digital platform right as lockdown started. I’ve followed them on Instagram forever and promise that it’s as fun as it looks, and is a fantastic workout to boot.
  • ‘Tis the season of thank-you’s, but why not start a new tradition and send someone a letter, right now, just because? If you say “but I need new stationery”, may I suggest these adorable Miffy-themed notecards from Papier as an option.
  • Find small ways to celebrate the everyday moments that are passing us by as we wait for the vaccine. I listened to a podcast with Darcy Miller in the run-up to Christmas and was happy to be reminded of her extensive array of ideas and projects to add a little creative fun into our “what day is it” existence.
  • Speaking of podcasts, I’ve recently added Lindsey Tramuta’s “The New Paris”  to my subscription queue … and it’s a great slice of French culture through American eyes.
  • And yes, Instagram. Embarrassed by how much time I spend (waste?) there, but happy to have an outlet to the world beyond my sleepy little town. I’m newly addicted to Museum of Restaurants as it’s led me down so many happy rabbit holes, including two intriguing spots in Berlin, Sofi (pastry!!) and Otto (packaging!!). Wanderlust forever.

photo at top by jane potrykus

Apropos of Nothing

petersham nurseries | simple pretty

Hello … it’s become increasingly apparent that deciding to re-launch this blog does not pair well with a pandemic, especially when said re-launch was to focus on travel, and sharing my favorite spots from cities we had hoped — and planned — to visit. But we’re not going anywhere, and I doubt any of you are rapt waiting for my latest “tree of the day” photo or are hoping that I’ll snap yet another photo of Lake Michigan, in attempt to accurately capture the color it is that day. (Truly, one of the small gifts of the pandemic is that the lake does change color, and that fact alone saves the monotony of a daily walk in never-changing surroundings from becoming Groundhog Day.)

At the same time, I’m still putting together Google maps for all of the cities I plan to visit once this is over*. And I still keep 1,000,000 tabs open in my browser of things I think someone else might like knowing about. So, apropos of nothing, here we go …

  • I’m still wearing lipstick … but getting lazier by the second … so my latest get-ready plan involves wearing Gucci’s “René Pink” tinted lip balm as both lipstick and blush, à la Dick Page.
  • Probably too late to order these for 2020 (unless you’re in the UK), but I think these minimalist foil cards from Keep Collect are perfectly suited for this pandemic year.
  • If I only knew how to knit or had the patience to learn, my first “real” project would be this.
  • Perhaps the loveliest advent calendar I’ve ever seen (and a Vienna shop worth visiting … someday soon).
  • I’ve gone deeper than ever into nature this year … perhaps what has drawn me to Superfolk’s stunning collection of nature-themed artwork.
  • Monocle magazine is launching Konfekt, a female-focused quarterly dedicated to “chic, understated glamour”. I cannot wait for my copy to arrive.
  • Obsessed (obsessed!) with the new Charleston hotel/restaurant Post House Inn. It may hold the top spot on my “When I’m out of here” list. If you’ve solved teleporting, do get in touch.
  • Domenica More Gordon’s magnificent collection of dog-themed bags, on display at (and being auctioned through) Tokyo’s Arts&Science. (The auction ends December 13.)

And finally, though it’s fun — and yes, privileged — to sit and click through links for escapism, there are so many people who need help this year. I hope you will consider finding a local food bank who could surely use a donation … No Kid Hungry is another worthy option. Thank you and cheers to 2021: may it be a better year.

* when you get around to traveling and you wonder if I have a map for your destination, get in touch. London, Paris, Boston, Charleston, Birmingham, Seattle … the list is ever growing.

photo at top of Petersham Nurseries … still my favorite place in the world … hoping to return to the land of prosecco-rose petal cocktails and mistletoe very soon.