Modern/Vintage...

posted on: Friday, 28 September 2012

The dichotomy of modern/vintage is me to a tee. I yearn for modern but I am steeped in a constant retrospective. I look back and smile. I like minimal, yet things bring me pleasure. You know that bit in 'Out of Africa' where Meryl Streep simply must have her Limoge? She must be surrounded by her 'things' before she functions in her new environment. Incidentally - her Danish accent in that film is spot on. It makes me miss my Mum even if she is sitting right there next to me, watching the film!

...beautiful meryl streep...
We are working on a design for the L'Apothecary brand and I find myself trying to describe the relationship between modern and vintage, as it appears in my mind's eye. Not an easy feat! My house is the same; I would love to have white, simple, clean lines. Yet, we live in a 17th century cottage where not one wall in the entire place is straight and where the ceiling is not much higher than my head. It cries out for old. Modern would be incongruous here.

via skona hem
Ditto my own style; I try to find the balance between 'enough' and 'too much' when I am getting dressed. Hate to be dowdy, love to be just right. I get delicious guilt sweats when I buy new, but also love digging out an old favourite. Having (and wearing) clothes for a long time proves their worth, surely. Ultimately the thing I love the most when I see it is simplicity. Whether old or new, it's that eye for detail; the perfectly simple and beautiful that I am drawn to. Oh so elusive!


On seasons...and where there is room for me

posted on: Tuesday, 25 September 2012

I am distinctly aware of the seasonal shift; mornings are darker and there is a chill now that definitely wasn't there a few weeks ago. We came back from holiday late in August to sunny days, where bare legs were still a possibility. Now, the weather is starting to close in and I am mentally preparing myself for the long British winter. Elements of it I love; the Sunday roasts, fire-lit evenings, the glut of autumnal apples from our small orchard. But the dark mornings and the cooler days, along with the rain, can make it a hard season to endure. I think I was made for living in the sun. Now as the seasons ebb from summer to autumn, I notice that my mood also shifts. More inward-looking and with the addition of extra time on my hands; it's a pensive but good time.

via cox and cox
My life experiment continues. Breaking from the normal work patterns has been just...wonderful! Not because I disliked my job, but because my need to be good at it (and juggle everything else) was so wearing. A spate of hard work can be good for the soul; to maintain it for ten years is a mistake. Well, it was for me anyway. So now there is time. I am making the most of every moment.

I wanted to write about what is happening with L'Apothecary. As with all new things, we have needed time to bed in and to develop. Paula has been working on new blends; oils that have skin-solving attributes and in-built natural goodness. Our lab is bursting with different sized brown bottles and new packaging possibilities. My mind is inventing product names and descriptive blurb as I go about my daily life. I notice that when it's your own business, the whole emphasis is different. How can I capture it? It's always with you. Always in your head.

via cox and cox
When I started with this business I didn't know where it would go. It was impossible to judge. There are days when I think that in every household there should be a bottle of L'Apothecary oil, for use wherever it is needed! Other days I wonder if I am deluding myself that I could break into this industry and have a place in it. A good friend told me there is room for me in the beauty market - and I like that sentiment....

via elsa may

Things of beauty...

posted on: Friday, 21 September 2012

A week spent trying out new stuff. My husband has been away and so I have been flying solo;  always a learning experience to live life as a single parent. It makes me very grateful that it is temporary as we impatiently wait to welcome him back tonight. Meanwhile it's been a week of early morning beach walks, solitude, a decadent matinee, getting used to the cooler evenings drawing in.

The novelty of not working is really starting to hit home. It is SO different to when I had time off last year, altogether triggered by different, less happy events. This time, I am luxuriating in the fact that I have time for myself. I have made a conscious decision to cram these months full of my choices; it's all about me! Oh and them too, but in those precious hours when they are at school, I have time to fill. It's been just exhilarating! No pressure and no guilt - a revelation...

via crush cul de sac



...I saw the fabulous Kim Cattrall perform as Shakespeare's Cleopatra this week..

...well, hello...








...satchel love...Mulberry's Tillie...





...how cute?

...loving the sparse...

via crush cul de sac


...via Me & Em 'comfortable luxury'...

...mildly obsessed with antique linens...

...old school methods...



Have a wonderful weekend...

'The rules' and how girls learn to dress...

posted on: Tuesday, 18 September 2012

I have to admit I consider it an anthropological study to look at what women wear. That set of outfit choices as they got up this morning; what generated it and what it resulted in. I find myself making assessments as soon as I meet people, which sounds judgemental. It's not; I am simply interested in the sheer variety. Having a daughter has increased this instinct as the same applies every time she gets dressed. She's at an early age so I can hardly have a view on what she wears other than: is it appropriate or not? I have decided that I have a thing about inappropriate. Yet with young girls' clothes - there is so much that is inappropriate. Why is that?

via elsa may

So we go back to basics - her wardrobe is full of Breton stripes and liberty-esque prints, topped off with red Converse. Can't go wrong with Converse...

A friend overheard me referring to the 'dressing rules' to my daughter and inside I cringed at my prescriptiveness. Don't wear sequins in the day time. Only wear sports clothes when doing sport. Wear natural fibres. Less is more. Shouldn't I be one of those mothers who declare that their daughter can wear whatever they like? 'Express yourself, let your imagination run free'. Yet in real life that attitude doesn't seem to be a keeper. So I have become the custodian of the outfit, rightly or wrongly!

When I was growing up, the single most pervasive message my Mum gave me (after all it's mothers who teach daughters how to dress, surely?) was to be different. To stand out. I lived in fear of being the same as all the other children, although looking back, my circumspect 11-year-old-self did not carry off any outlandish outfit choices. One wonders what Olivia Palermo's mother taught her?! I am intrigued to know...

I fear it is fickle to suggest that clothes matter this much and of course, in all reality, they don't. They are just the outward message and it's our missive to get beyond that and get to know people for their inner qualities. But I still do love the art of dressing, I can't help myself.

via elsa may

Hey Monday...

posted on: Monday, 17 September 2012

Poor, neglected blog; I have been remiss. The fact is, I have so many thoughts in my head, so many potential blog posts, that I am having trouble getting some semblance of order. I read once that you know you live in a digital world if your thoughts form as blog posts or tweets rather than free-flowing ideas! I think that is where I am at.
via pretty stuff
The new school extravaganza continues, each day feeling more 'normal' but at the same time generating new experiences for my children to cope with. I am learning more about them than I have for years and I find many of my impulses are to try to adjust to this new rhythm of family life. Having a child at senior school requires a different form of parenting; it's a type I need to learn. But all in all - they are doing fabulously well. I couldn't ask for more.

L'Apothecary returns too after the summer hiatus; plans and ideas forming into real products. It's been great to have a break and to relax into the business. I know starting a new business should not be a relaxing time, but we have taken stock and understood what works and what doesn't and so that feels so...right. Good times ahead.

What started as a mild interest has developed into a full-blown obsession with reinventing my home. The prospect of a few months off has gone to my head and I want to reinvigorate the spaces that for years have not been noticed.

via journeys of mangonett
Along the same lines of reinvention, I have started doing Tai Chi which is described as 'moving meditation'. The purpose for me is to make every movement deliberate and definite so that my whole body relaxes. It's quirky for sure, but I really enjoyed the calmness of it. While I am forming the new me, I also booked myself a single ticket to a matinee of a Shakespeare play! I have never been to a play alone before, but feel ridiculously energised by the idea. The day times are opening up for me, with newness and freshness. My view: everyone should take a break from their corporate norm, it feels great.

Thank you so much for your lovely comments to my last post. What I found really touching was that commenters said they could feel my 'voice' coming through. It's quite special that anyone considers I have a voice in the first place and even more so, that it can shine through in what I write. So thank you.



Words...

posted on: Thursday, 13 September 2012


A couple of things lately have made me think about writing. This blog post by Tania my writer friend (I hope she won't mind my calling her a 'friend' as that is what I consider her, despite the fact we have never met). Also, after reading 'The Happiness Project'. Both pressing me to consider what it is I like to do. It led me to a type of confession: I like to read and write. The geekish, bookish truth I am afraid. Despite the fact I stopped studying books some twenty years ago, I still love everything about the written word. So there it is.

I was walking on the beach, for it is my favourite place ever, and I remembered that I wrote a piece for a writing competition last winter. I still suffer from the jaw pain that I write of in the excerpt; the modern malaise that I have developed from my lifestyle. I didn't get shortlisted, let alone get placed anywhere in that competition but it got me thinking, I should press publish on this and just see. 

They say do something every day that scares you; publishing this is my 'thing' for the day!


Her back to the wind, she walked purposefully. As necessary gulps of sea air were taken deep in to her lungs, she tried to rationalise where she’d ended up. The children frolicked ahead of her on the dunes, the boardwalk threading its way over the shallow sandy hills. ‘This place is the best place’ she thought, in an attempt to block out the pain she was feeling. Real, visceral pain that served as the constant and unwelcome reminder: her modern lifestyle had made her feel this way. At the beach, the pain lessened, even more so as she glanced to her right, over the salt marshes, glimpsing the village of Bosham across the flats. It always made her think of New England; the same nature, the same landscape. Calm descended on her, as it always did at the beach. To her left, over the dunes and down, the waves rolled in. The tide was far out and the sand revealed deep ripples; testament to the presence of the retreating water.

She recalled her time here as a knowledge-hungry, learning Geography student, studying the effects of Longshore Drift. The consequence of wave action over time. She saw the parallel; living a busy and hectic life for so many years had similarly etched an effect on her over time. Under her feet the dunes were held together by the roots of the Marram grasses; literally holding the sand down, allowing it to keep its form. The dunes undulated and the children loved that they did. She knew that hours would now be spent playing hide and seek; the dunes provided the ultimate hiding place. As they neared the far end of the sand spit, she braced herself for the wind. She wondered how the weather could ever have been warm enough for them to visit the same spot by boat, late last summer. How, at that time they had bare feet and bare shoulders, warmed by the sun and sand-smattered.

‘This place is the place’ she repeated to herself; the best place to rekindle calm, the best place to think, and the best place to make sense of the world. The beach never, ever failed to deliver its promise. She had, so many times here, witnessed car-loads of people; families, captivated by the promise of salty air, stretching their legs after a long car journey from London. Children bounding out in Labrador-fashion to the shoreline beyond. The lure of the bone-coloured sand; fine and seemingly infinite.

Since coming here as a child, life had come full circle she thought; as she now brought her own children, to feel the nature themselves.

They found a nook in the dunes, suitably sheltered to hunker down in a natural dip, but exposed enough to watch passers-by. Dog walkers and beach runners. Those who also craved the gift that the beach proffered: freedom and space and fresh air. There was no better natural place. This is the place.



My curious relationship with shopping...

posted on: Saturday, 8 September 2012

Even as a child, I loved to shop. Is that a confession I should be ashamed of? My Mum used to take me in to Copenhagen when we returned to her native Denmark and I would get to peruse H&M (before it became mainstream) and boutiques that sold to-die-for striped dungarees and polka-dot canvas Mary Jane shoes. Then at University, my friends and I would catch the train to Bath to go to 1990's stalwart Hobbs (more Mary Jane shoes, but black, patent leather this time) and I would still sink my student grant into Saturday-night-out clothes. Nothing like getting ready to go out and having a new top to wear with those trusty Levis 501s.

I have always been the same; mildly obsessed with clothes. I wouldn't say it's even fashion; it's the life-long search for the ultimate classic, timeless piece. Of course now, I have amassed a wardrobe that as the seasons change I find I go back to purchases made years ago. But now, even I have maxed out on shopping. There are only so many items of clothing one can own.

Olivia P...it doesn't mean I don't ache with envy when I see her clothes! Via my design chic
Of course, I acknowledge the frippery of shopping - the constant and on occasion, unnecessary acquisition of new items. For sure there have been times when it has served as a mood-lifter in a way that for some, excess food and other, darker vices play a role. There is a compulsion about it that I recognise. As each season shifts I still get the definite urge to furnish myself with new clothes. As if somehow the weather-change of Autumn signals some primal need to get new boots. The new boots requirement hits me hard every year!

This year, times have changed and I have resolved to stop the shopping. I have enough. There is no need; there is just a remaining but diminishing want. So instead I have taken to shopping vicariously for friends. I have one friend whose busy-ness precludes her from shopping. After all - who has the time? Well, as it turns out, at the moment I do. Scouring the web for things she would like is almost as much fun as doing it for myself. I figure -  this shopping-by-proxy is the way forward.

The key point is: I identify and analyse my need. Why do I want to purchase more? The fact remains that I care what I wear as much as ever, I just see a new approach in actually making do with what I have. I am therefore applying the 30 day rule, as outlined by Zen Habits, if you want it, let 30 days pass before you buy it. The concept being that after 30 days the materialistic need will have evaporated. Let's see!



Musings on opportunity and beauty...

posted on: Thursday, 6 September 2012

Sometimes I am torn about what to write; I have inhibitions about who reads and what they think. I worry about presenting a reality here that is somehow not the reality. As no one's life looks like Pinterest, no matter what they may suggest!

However, I write this a few days into the new school term. Both of my children have surprised and delighted me with their tenacity and bravery at stepping out and doing something new. It is such early days but seeing them go off this week has been heart-warming for me; one of those rare moments of parenthood when you feel you've prepared them well. Of course I can't take all the credit, but I do think that the effort we have put in now shows through. With children, to a point, you get back what you put in. It doesn't come for free, so I am glad that the work and worry and toil to acquire the educational opportunities that they have has, at least this week, seemed worthwhile.

Meanwhile I am at home, very much dwelling on my home. The prospect of a few months off work has triggered the need to create the perfect home environment. I feel like I have one chance at this as before I know it I will be back to the corporate grindstone. I genuinely want my whole house to look like this:

via thursday night dinner
Minimal. Utility. Linen-covered. White.

An almost overwhelming urge to get clear everything away so that only the simple and the beautiful remain. And talking of beauty; it's a topic I have mused about a lot recently.

Having spent time observing 'people like us' on holiday, I can conclude there is a very particular type of beauty when women near 40. There is something of a 'crossing over' that I can sense as I approach my 39th year. I wouldn't however describe it as a decline; more of a shift, an acknowledgement that time has passed and a different beauty is evident. I am fascinated by the concept of ageing beautifully and gracefully.

It makes me aspire to be natural and the only way I can think of to achieve that is to make everything simple. Wardrobe choices are increasingly about the quality of the fabric, the style and elegance, instead of the latest fashion. The thing is: when you see women who have it, you know it - but it remains an elusive thing to acquire! Ever hopeful...

via tire swings and summer dreams

School days...

posted on: Monday, 3 September 2012

So it is almost upon us; what seems to have been brewing for AGES, my two children start their new schools this week. I know this fact has peppered so many blog posts for so long, I am tired of writing it. I want it be to something we have done and looked back on and found: it's all been fabulous. 

via this etsy
A long road to get here though - Boo sitting tests and interviews to get to her chosen school and my son enduring a long and rather drawn-out wrench from a school he loved, to move. Explaining the virtues of academic 'tactics' to a seven year old is tough; it was a decision we made a while back and it has taken so long to bed in. Even now I am waking at 4am wondering if we have done the right thing. You see for both of them, this will be a step up. They have come from a very nurturing place and are moving to somewhere bigger, brighter, more challenging. I have given oodles of thought to whether making things tougher for them is right. But I have concluded; that is what life is all about. I imagine it's going to be tougher for them, actually what I know deep down (in the light of day at 9am and not at 4am) is that they are ready. It's a natural progression. It's their time.

So this week is a gradual (but will feel like sudden) return to early mornings and punishing school runs; I feel like I will be starting these new schools. There is some currency I have found, in being an experienced school mother. For both establishments I will be neither; I will be the newbie who doesn't know where to put herself at pick-up and who will observe the delicate but fascinating interplay of the other mums. School Mums close-up. 

For Boo - it feels like she is setting sail and despite the fact that I know she is ready - well and truly - it's tugging the umbilical, more than I can say. I have watched her grow these recent months and have caught glimpses of the young woman she is going to be. Makes my heart ache with pride. To some degree I feel like much of my job is now done; my role has fundamentally changed to being an advisor and (hopefully) a confidante rather than a director of her life. It's so very poignant but so very satisfying...fingers crossed!

via this etsy
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