Friday, October 30, 2009


This week, I am loving...

1. Orwell Clutch Pink Sheep Purse, Tsuru Bride 2. Whale Rollimal, US Wood Toys 3. Grey Poupon Fox, Sleepy King

4. Dirty Laundry Guest Book Kit, Melangerie NYC 5. Favorite Print, Treat Zone 6. Cupcakes Calendar 2010, Yee Haw

7. Lushy Purse, Pink Lemonade Boutique 8. Picturing My Love Brooch, Fluffington 9. Gentlemen's Brothel Bar Soap, Miss Ballantyne


Now let me make this clear...I am no gardener. Something to do with having little patience and a fear of creepy crawlies I would say. So with that understood, I have little awareness of the essential products used by the green thumb brigade. An article in Britain's Country Living Magazine caught my eye about Nutscene Twine and I just had to delve deeper. This is a small private business that has cornered a niche in the market and kept it's roots firmly planted in hand made.

Nutscene began it's history in 1922, with Robertson Ireland of Dundee patenting it's first Green Twist twine made from jute, used as gardening string.

The original Green Twist twine.

Present day, Green Twist

At the turn of the 20th Century Dundee was the jute capital of the world. The raw fibres arrived from India and were then woven into ropes, sailcloth and carpets. The current Managing Director, Shona Young explains the name, "It's real name was "not seen" twine, because it was designed to blend in with the foliage. But on the patent application it had to have an original name, so they changed it to Nutscene". These days, the jute is grown, spun and dyed in India and arrives in giant balls at the factory in Kingsmuir, Scotland. The small family of workers turn them into smaller spools and balls using the same 1901 American winding machines that originally did the job in the 1920s.

There is a distinct air of cottage industry to this product, with just 20 ladies and gents working to meet the high demand for this product which is used everywhere from the gardens of Buckingham Palace , the Chelsea Flower Show and domestic gardens all over the world. By looking back into their history and rediscovering vintage adverts used by Nutscene from the 1930s to grace their packaging, and creating vibrant coloured versions of the original twine, they have invigorated the market for this classic and practical product. The 'Tin O' Twine' is their ingenious and practical answer to keeping the coloured twine dry whilst ensuring it stays untangled while being used.

In 1999, Nutscene developed their range of gifts for gardeners. Hessian aprons, handy wooden twine stands, the Snippet Twine Dolly (finalist in the Biggart Baillie Innovation Awards 2008) and much more. I love the simplicity of their creations and the heritage that they represent.

Hessian Half Apron

Hessian Full Apron

The Snippet Twine Dolly, cuts the twine without the need for scissors, leaving the gardener with a free hand whilst tying up plants.

Now where's my trowel?

Friday, October 23, 2009



The purpose of my blog is to share the things that inspire me with the emphasis on design and detail that is beautiful and unique. My ultimate goal is to take these things and turn them into the basis of a Boutique, in the near-ish future.
Currently, and for the past 17 years, I have been passionately committed to the world of food and restaurants. It would be fair to say that it is in my blood. Pops has a deep love for all things culinary and my first waiting job was in a restaurant in Vermont, The Three Clock Inn, where my brothers and I have all done a stint, and where my father has been dining since I was born. Going back to the Three Clock, is like coming home.
So, with my current job finishing in just over two weeks (after 11 years), and my move to Vermont imminent (in time for Thanksgiving) I though I would share some of the most inspirational Chefs I know about, to give you a taste of just how incredible this world of ours is.

Fergus Henderson, Chef/Proprietor of St John in London's Smithfield Market, specialises in cooking British Classics with an emphasis on "Nose To Tail Eating".

The St John Logo, says it all.

There are no unnecessary frills, instead just perfect simplicity in the clean white space he has created as the background to allowing the food to take center stage. The setting of this restaurant is crucial, as Smithfield Market is one of the oldest meat markets in the world (where meat has been sold for almost 1000 years). For more of its history, start here.

The hallowed halls of Smithfield.

Enjoying a morning pint, after a hard days work at Smithfield
(images from Time)

This is a carnivore's paradise, particularly if you like the more unusual cuts of meat and offal. His signature dish is roast bone marrow with a parsley salad. This year he was deservingly awarded his first Michelin Star.

The unique, Fergus Henderson

Rick Stein, the self taught chef specialising in seafood is based in Padstowe, Cornwall. He is a Chef's Chef, burly and direct with something of a temper, but passionate about the fruits of the sea that are freshest in his home town. To many Britains he is a "TV Chef" almost in the vein of the late Keith Floyd, after years presenting travelling cookery shows for the BBC, but he is in fact a prolific Chef/Proprietor in his home town with 4 restaurants, a bakery, delicatesen and hotel in the small town of Padstowe. His first and most famous establishment is The Seafood Restaurant opened in 1975.
His reputation is built on his passion for fresh fish, simply cooked. His style is based on classic cookery, designed to bring out the best in the ingredients with little embellishment, to create the maximum impact of flavour in what he cooks.

Rick Stein, in chef mode.

From the simple and sublime, to the (almost) rediculous...

Ferran Adria, Chef/Proprietor of El Bulli in Spain has the notable position of owning the World's Best Restaurant. This is the stuff of total fantasy and amazement and cannot be done justice in just a few lines. Suffice it to say that, it is impossible to get a table (1,000,000 applications are made for 8,000 seats) with reservations based on a lottery system and this venerable institution only operates for six months in a year.

The Wizard, Ferran Adria
(image from The Guardian)

Often described as Molecular Gastronomy, Adria dismisses this categorization, instead using the term Deconstructivist to describe his unique style. His 30 course gourmet tasting menu is the stuff of legend. He states that his goal is to "provide unexpected contrasts of flavour, temperature and texture. Nothing is what it seems. The idea is to provoke, surprise and delight the diner."
The website for El Bulli is just as elaborate and technical as his food. In it, he sets out is 23 principles The Synthesis, that shape his style and set out the foundations of El Bulli's approach to food. Starting with Number 1..
"Cooking is a language through which all the following properties may be expressed: harmony, creativity, happiness, beauty, poetry, complexity, magic, humour, provocation and culture." - via El Bulli

For a unique insight into the world of this Chef, pick up "A Day At El Bulli", an incredible book that follows Ferran Adria minute by minute, through his culinary day. The pictures are out of this porn.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


This week, I am loving...

1. Florida Everglades Crocheted Afghan, Popsicle Stick 2. Call Your Folks, Print, Recovering Lazyholic 3. One Word Tags, Every Jot and Tittle

4. Scooter Book Bag, Retrofied 5. Oilcloth Storage Bin, Sewing Momma 6. Modern Wholecloth Patchwork Quilt, All The Numbers

7. A Letter To You, Print, Lola's Room 8. Letterpress Fortune Teller, Sycamore Street Press 9. Green Owl Mask, Pretty Lil Things

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Not wanting to be too ahead of myself with the Festive references, but I have a passion for wreaths and personally don't think they are just for the Holidays. Last year we put one up on our door, and have still not taken it down! I thought we could get away with it as it is a Bell Wreath from Habitat, with my addition of a coloured bow that can be changed to reflect the seasons.

Meribel Bell Wreath, Habitat

In Britain Christmas Wreaths are most often made from Holly, but in the States Balsam is the modern norm. We decorate our barn in Vermont with a huge classic wreath with red ribbon and I love the simplicity of it.

A little history here...The Wreath has its' origins beginning in Pagan times, used during the Winter Solstice to represent the triumph of life and nature. Evergreens were perfect due to the fact that they thrive in the colder months. The circle form represents the circle of nature with seasons following each other in a never ending cycle.
The Christian symbolism of wreaths is referenced in the Bible, linked with joy, honor and victory. The Christmas wreath in this context represents a circle that has no beginning or end, a symbol of God's eternity. The use of Evergreens symbolize God's love and mercy. The Green colour symbolizes hope and new life. For more history try here as a start.

True to form, if given an option I look for something a little more individual and creative in my wreaths. I focus on the decorative aspect rather than the symbolism. My two favourite designers of wreaths from Etsy have taken the form and created fairytale versions for any season and occasion. I truly can't choose a single favourite, they are all delicious.

From Knock Knocking...

Faux Bois Wreath with Vintage Deer

Frosted Fuschia Wreath

Ice Cream Parlor Retro Wreath
Thankful Pear Wreath

Tinseltown Wreath

Easter Parade Wreath
I have to say here, that the photography (courtesy of Sam Yarbrough) and presentation of the wreaths in The Chicadee Shop is just amazing. Shows you how talented these independent artists are when it comes to promoting their wares.
UPDATE: Melissa from The Chicadee Shop is offering free shipping on one wreath within the US, to anyone who mentions they found her through Apothecary Fox. Yippee! Thanks Mellissa x

With Wreaths like these, I am sure you will agree...they are not just for Christmas

Monday, October 12, 2009


Sorry for missing this out last week, but this week, I am loving...

1. Vintage Canning Jars, Sparkkle Jar 2. Folklore Pincushion, Bread and Roses 3. Scottie Dog, Vintage Chenille

4. Mini Goals Chalkboard, Mary Kate McDevitt 5. Retro Roller Skate Teacup, Folded Pigs 6. Letterpress Cupcake Box, Simple Song Designs

7. Merit Badge for 'Being as Sweet as Pie', Lee Meszaros 8. Little Miss Fox Brooch, Crafty Folk 9. Regal in Green and Gold Corsage, A Alicia Accessories

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I grew up just outside the small, and perfectly formed town of Weston, Vermont. Here is where you will find the original Vermont Country Store, owned by the Orton Family. They are specialists in the niche market of being "Purveyors of the Practical and Hard-To-Find". From kitchen gadgets, toys and hardware, to clothing, lotions and potions, the store holds thousands of vintage classics. More than that, it is a perfect example of the tradition of Country Stores in New England. With creaky wooden floorboards, antiques and curiosities hanging from the rafters and the most passionate and informed apron-clad staff, you could spend all day soaking up the spirit of this place.

Vrest and Ellen Orton opened The Vermont Country Store in 1946. Vrest had his roots in the traditional Country store, his father having owned the Orton General Store in Calais, Vermont from 1897. The Vermont Country Store is the first restored and fully operational country store in America, and is a jewel in the landscape of Vermont. Lyman Orton and his three sons are experts at discovering forgotten items and reintroducing them to the market. Their mail order catalogue "The Voice of The Mountains" is still a black and white publication that evokes the era of the products it showcases.

Since I was little, my favourite place in the store is the Candy section, naturally. The apothecary jars filled with many coloured classic hard candies, assorted licorice and chocolate of every kind, are just too enticing to pass by. I prefer to use the paper bags with pencils to tally up my goodies, but you can always just weigh out your picks.

My top tip is the pastel melty mints, kind of mint chocolate but in delicious shades of pink, green and yellow. Yum!

The Apothecary is a treasure trove of long forgotten tinctures, soaps and cosmetics given a new lease of life and introduced to new generations!

Interior images from Facebook

The Vermont Alliance of Independent Country Stores is a vibrant membership list of the best examples of this form of retail. If you are in our neck of the woods (Southern Vermont), make sure you stop by in Weston, and at the H.N.Williams General Store in Dorset to see the very best in the business. For further reading on the history of the Country store, start here, and here.

HOUSE CALLS: Megan Price from Mr PS

Megan Price is the talent behind the quintessentially British Mr PS. Taking her inspiration from travels at home and abroad, and a love for food and drink, she creates delicious vintage inspired images of the Great British past times of taking Afternoon Tea, trips to the Seaside, the Greasy Spoon Breakfast, and Tea of course! Her screen printed images are created in a rainbow of colours, in the form of Prints, Tea Towels, Mugs and Totes. So let's take a tea break and let Megan tell you about her work...

Describe the work that you do.
"I design and screen-print home interior accessories. At the moment this includes my signature range of tea towels, as well as mugs, shopper tote bags and screen-print artwork on paper."

What was the career/education path you took to get to this point?
"As soon as I started screen-printing whilst on my Art & Design Foundation course I was hooked. My degree is in Visual Communication Design: Illustration, but I have also studied Printed Textiles, and Design Technology. So I have a good skills base to draw upon when it comes to new work and commissions."

Where do you get your inspirations?
"The things around me, the lifestyle I lead; going out for brunch at the weekend, afternoon tea with friends... Over the last few years I’ve moved around a bit, and I spent time living near the sea, but now I’m back in a busy city, so these locations have had a influence."

Describe the creative process in designing and constructing a particular piece.
"Walking, looking, thinking, talking, drawing. Sketching out idea, cutting up bits of paper, laying everything out. Then scanning in and sorting things out digitally. Then laser-printing the final design out, ready to make a silkscreen. Things sometimes change again, and again. Then the colour-mixing and the screen-printing - my favourite bit!"

Where do you create your work?
"I am lucky to have a dedicated studio space to print, sew, iron, store stock, pack... I also have a home office for catching up on e-mails and paperwork. My studio is on 4th floor of an old cotton mill, so it feels appropriate to be making tea towels here. Being so high up means I have great views across the city to the moors, very handy for daydreaming!"
Images from Megan's Studio

Share some of your favourite artisans whose work you admire.
"Everyday I seem to discover handmade items to covet... designers I go back to and check what they’re working on next include Joanna Rutter
Walnut Vixen Necklace, Joanna Rutter

I can’t wait to see the new mug designs by illustrator Robert Shadbolt
Gocco Print Set, Robert Shadbolt

And I recently came across the adorable ceramic work of Anna Hunt."
Ceramic Buttons, Anna Hunt

Where do you sell your work?
"My main online shop is here where you can find the entire Mr.PS range as well as occasional special one-offs. I’m also on Etsy. I wholesale to independent retailers in the UK, Japan, France and North America."

What are the things you love most in your life?
"At the moment I’m enjoying discovering a new region of England, having recently moved across the country. Different cities, galleries, shops, countryside, farmers markets. I try to have one day out a week, although work will invariably take over. It’s great to be able to jump into the car or train and just feel like being on holiday, when you are just free to explore."

What would you do “in your wildest dreams”?
"I’d like to set up an amazing open-access fully staffed and equipped screen-print workshop. Despite all the interest in making and crafting at the moment, facilities can be hard to come by for graduates or people wishing to re-train or just try things out. I’m always being asked how to screen-print, make screens, where to buy equipment."

What is your greatest professional achievement?
"Having gradually built up Mr.PS and now being able to focus on it full time. This year I have also expanded my international stockists to 2 outlets in Japan as well in Canada and Paris."
What is new with you and your work?
"Well, Christmas is coming so there’ll be a new seasonal Mr.PS tea towel out soon. Also, there’s some more mugs in the pipeline, and I’m looking at increasing the tableware range, in terms of ceramic and well as textile."

Do you have a motto for life?
"Sometimes I have to remind myself of this on almost a daily basis, We’ll get there in the end!”

Friday, October 2, 2009


Omlet, is a UK based company that provides everything a smallholder would need to keep chickens, quail, rabbits, ducks, guinea pigs or bees. The trend towards "growing your own" has exploded in Britain over the past few years. This company has created a modern, colourful and fun "Eglu" to keep your little critters in comfort and safety, with style. You can even order chickens to be delivered along with your Chicken House to get started right away.

The website gives you all the information you could need to purchase and care for the correct animal or breed, that suits your space and environment. For a full range of products, go here. Obviously, I would go for the pink version!

Pops and our new Bees

On a personal note, we have always kept lots of animals on our small farm in Vermont, thanks to Pops' passion for animals. It may be a surprise to most who know me that I grew up milking cows at the crack of dawn, mucking out the horses, collecting eggs and emptying the "chicken bucket" of scraps into the chicken coop. There is no substitute for your own eggs. If you have never had them, you could not believe the colour of the yokes, or the taste, compared to store bought eggs.

Our Rustic Chicken Coop, the door to the run is closed with the back of an old Adirondack Chair!

If only we had had one of these gorgeous chicken houses I would no longer be scarred by the experience of being locked in our coop as a little girl. I won't name names, you know who you are!
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