NSS 2016: The Ultimate Planner

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 weekly planner, 2017 | simple pretty

sugar paper

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 weekly planner, 2017 | simple pretty


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

Susan Branch: Author Extraordinaire

susan branch: the fairy tale girl and martha's vineyard, isle of dreams books | simple pretty

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 | simple pretty

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.


susan branch, author extraordinaire | simple pretty

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.

susan branch, author extraordinaire | simple pretty

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.)

susan branch, author extraordinaire | simple pretty

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.


geranium watercolor by susan branch, author extraordinaire | simple pretty

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.

New from Laura Stoddart

laura stoddart bloom notebook | simple pretty

‘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 …

laura stoddart in bloom cards | simple pretty

‘in bloom’ note cards

laura stoddart 'tea time' list pad | simple pretty

‘tea time’ list pad

laura stoddart at top drawer london, january 2016 | simple pretty

laura stoddart at top drawer london / january 2016

laura stoddart at top drawer london | simple pretty

preview of the line at top drawer

image credits: laurastoddart.com (product photos), jane potrykus (top drawer photos)

25 Years

25th anniversary inspiration board | simple pretty

Today my husband and I celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary … and as someone who writes a lot about fashion, and flowers, and stationery (and has a terrible sweet tooth), I thought it would be fun to put together an inspiration board for my wedding, if I were getting married today.*


* safe to say, this go round there would be no navy chintz Laura Ashley bridesmaid dresses, but the rest of my original choices were solid, looking back.

image credits: oscar de la renta courtesy photo for voguerunway.com (dress), fiftyflowers.com (rose), cwarrendesign.com (invitation), cakebloom.com (cake)

layout and type by jane potrykus

xo david

Simple Pretty Boston: Charles Street Top 5

top 5, charles street boston | simple pretty

Boston is one of my favorite cities: it’s eminently walkable, full of interesting shops and restaurants, and even boasts a charming public garden right in the middle of town. In fact, it feels a lot like a miniature version of London.

Whenever I’m in town, Beacon Hill is one of my favorite places to wander. The neighborhood offers an abundance of interesting destinations in a relatively small area: whether you’re in search of home décor, a cozy sweater, or a good glass of wine, Charles Street has you covered.

To get you started, here are my Top 5 spots on the street:

  1. Good // no. 133 @shopatgood   good, charles street boston | simple prettyPaul Niski and Kate Brizius’s shop Good is a longtime favorite of mine — the original jewel box location, which opened in 2001, made the most of its tiny space. (I inevitably found myself drawn to the jewelry, and the display wall of John Derian decoupage.) A move down the street to a larger space in 2012 allowed Niski and Brizius to expand their offerings while maintaining their expertly-honed aesthetic. Clothing (including tees from Small Trades), and some of my favorite books and magazines have joined the assortment, nicely complementing the wider range of home wares. The displays are perfection: the space feels like a shop/gallery hybrid. Do not miss it.
  2. French + Italian // no. 119 @frenchanditalianfrench + italian, charles street boston | simple prettyI’ve long had to obsess over French + Italian owner Aimee Lombardi’s chic fashion sense from afar, as the shop was located in Marblehead, MA, and I was not. (Big assist to Instagram.) Designers carried range from A.P.C. to Acne to The Line — a minimalist’s dream lineup, all expertly mixed and matched by Lombardi. Not to mention, the store’s business cards and signage are graphic design catnip. The Boston location opened in late March, and I’m so happy there’s now a way to get my fix in person!
  3. Danish Country // no. 138 @danishcountrydanish country, charles street boston | simple prettyThe older I get, the more I appreciate unique furnishings, an antidote to a world that suffers ever more often from “sameness”. Jim Kilroy’s shop was a great spot to wander for a bit of decorating inspiration while in town. Eventually, when I have a house again, it will make a great resource for shopping!
  4. Dress // no. 70 @dressbostondress, charles street boston | simple prettyAnother long-time favorite, as I’ve been a Dress customer since the original boutique opened on Newbury Street back in 2001. (They relocated to Charles Street in 2013.) The mix hits the right side of preppy, with simple basics that are neither loud nor boring. I can never have enough jeans, tees, and sweaters, and true to form, over spring break, I walked out with a fabulous stripey tee from Current/Elliott.
  5. Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro // no. 25 @beaconhillhotel 
    beacon hill bistro, charles street boston | simple pretty

    steak frites for lunch

    So many things to like about BHB: when you walk in, on the right there’s a cozy bar which feels like the local watering hole; on the left is the excellent restaurant, serving simple, delicious bistro food from breakfast to dinner. Upstairs are 12 comfortable guest rooms: book one and you’ll feel like you’re staying at a quaint bed and breakfast in the city (the hotel’s front desk also services the bistro). Located in a perfect spot to explore Boston, it’s also a very welcome sight when you return from a long day of walking.

Bonus: Rouvalis Flowers // 40 W. Cedar Street @rouvalisflowersrouvalis flowers, beacon hill boston | simple prettyNot on Charles Street, but how could I put together a travel guide without a flower shop? Rouvalis has been around for more than 40 years, and there’s nothing better than a good old-school place to pick up a pretty bouquet.

denotes instagram user name // all photos by jane potrykus

there are plenty more amazing spots on charles street, including tatte bakery, black ink, paramount, savenor’s, e.r. butler, upper crust …. add a comment with your top 5!