Lifestyle

Escape to the Chateau

Outfits inspired by Channel 4’s Escape to the Chateau. Two dresses and gardening clothes for your visit to Château de la Motte-Husson.

You’ll recall that a bottle of Chateau du Petit Thouars Crémant de Loire prompted me to travel virtually to the Loire Valley this past November. Visiting the makers of my favorite Crémant has been on my to-do list since the holiday season, but Channel 4’s Escape to the Chateau is starting to inspire a full-scale Loire Valley itinerary. I’ve recently added Château de la Motte-Husson to the list of stops.

The nineteenth-century house is a two-hour drive from the Château du Petit Thouars, but stops in Tours, Angers, Le Mans, and Laval are bound to extend the trip north by a few days. The venue is available for hire during the wedding season, but its owners offer other opportunities to see the chateau first-hand. I envision myself taking part in the gardening days and food-filled festivities. The grounds are also outfitted with pods for glamping.

It has been a joy to see Dick and Angel Strawbridge transform this 45-room house. I’m currently on episode 3 of season 3, and there are 7 seasons in total. If you’re in the UK, you’ll be able to watch via Channel 4, but as a resident of the US, I’ve been tuning in via Peacock TV. Dick and Angel are such a creative team! I can’t predict what improvements I’ll bear witness to next, but I’m sure I’ll find myself in awe several more times as the series progresses.

Works Sighted

The Floral Society apron and glove setJ.Crew linen shirtCOS pantsSuperga 2750 Cotu Classic

Sunbody Hats straw hatJessie Zhao silk scarfKayu tote

Alex Mill dressSuperga 2750 Cotu Classic

Aurate earringsMiss Dior eau de toiletteL.K.Bennett clutch

Staud dressSarah Flint heels

Art elements from thechateau.tv

20 Springtime Activities for the City Dweller

A sketch of Kensington Palace gardens. Navy ASOS skirt and black ballet flats by Blue Velvet Shoes.

I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to keep myself occupied during the approaching warm-weather months. According to the calendar, spring will be here in 29 days. There’s no telling what lockdown/curfew restrictions could be implemented this year, and I want to be mentally prepared. I live in the city, and like many other city dwellers, I don’t have access to a private outdoor space larger than a postage stamp. This means that most of the time I spend outside is in the public sphere. If access to the public sphere is restricted, I’m not left with very much. Here’s my preliminary list of things I plan to do this spring at home and/or outside when permitted. A woman can’t live on outdoor dining and online shopping alone.

  1. writing
  2. reading
  3. sketching
  4. practicing calligraphy
  5. making greeting cards
  6. sewing
  7. embroidery
  8. filming and editing short videos
  9. morning walks
  10. meditating
  11. visiting museums
  12. attending educational Zoom lectures/events
  13. Popsugar workouts
  14. Les Mills dance workouts
  15. jumping rope
  16. watching non-English films
  17. making non-English Spotify playlists
  18. listening to podcasts
  19. MasterClass courses
  20. experimenting with low-carb, vegetarian cooking

Works Sighted

Sketching at Kensington Palace (2014)

ASOS skirt (old); Blue Velvet Shoes ballet flats

Pinks and Reds

Pink and red items: skirts, champagne coupes, ring, lipstick, Breton shirt, ballet flats. dress, tweed jacket.

It’s been such a pleasure to visit the Estelle Colored Glass instagram account lately. The company has been promoting their pink and red handblown glass products for Valentine’s Day. The festive colors remind me of celebrations from days long gone. With nostalgia in my heart, I took to the internet in search of additional sources of inspiration.

Estelle Colored Glass Champagne coupes; Monica Vinader ring; Hobbs tweed jacket

L.K.Bennett skirt; Loro Piana skirt; Lauren Ralph Lauren dress

The Breton Shirt Co marinière; J.McLaughlin ballet flats; NARS lipstick pencil (damned)

The Notebook

A selection of notebooks from Appointed, Designworks Ink, Moleskine, Apica, Fieldnotes, and Smythson. Writing accessories.

A notebook is a place for me to deposit all of my thoughts. Naturally, I have a few dedicated to various topics. Every post on this blog has started out as an idea in the notebook I’ve reserved for this purpose. There’s also one for recipes. Another one holds bits of writing pertaining to my current literary project. I was introduced to the art of free writing in January 2017, and I’ve had one for that ever since. I’ve had countless notebooks for class notes. I’ve journaled, sketched, doodled, and practiced calligraphy—all in a humble notebook. The book that I’ve started most recently is dedicated to my virtual exploration of France.

I’m studying films that are set in Paris this semester. The France notebook has been christened with my observations on Le ballon rouge (1965) and Le voyage du ballon rouge (2007). I find taking notes to be very therapeutic when I’m not under pressure to prepare for a test. I’ve worked long enough at my formal education, and I won’t be taking any tests in the immediate future. Now I write for fun.

DesignWorks Ink is my go-to brand of the moment. I just ordered this stunning blue notebook—three of them to be exact. If you’ve been inspired to pick up your pen/pencil but don’t know where to begin, here are 20 subjects from the school of life to inspire your writing:

  • the good old days
  • friendships, present and past
  • foods I’m trying for the first time
  • places I’ve been in my mind
  • heroes and heroines 
  • mistakes that have taught me well 
  • the events of my life
  • worldwide wines
  • my strengths
  • dreams I had at night
  • daydreams
  • my ancestors 
  • startups I have in mind
  • blueprints for my dream house 
  • things I want to learn
  • the history of (insert name of country)
  • inspiring quotes
  • the clothes I like and why
  • things I’ll never understand 
  • lessons from my grandparents

Works Sighted

Appointed notebook (hunter green); Designworks Ink notebook (pacific forest); Moleskine notebook (sapphire blue); Apica premium CD B5 notebook (blue); Designworks Ink notebook (denim blue)

Apica CD-15 B5 notebook (navy); Stow pencil case; Uni-Ball black pen (0.8mm); Muji aluminum pen case; Apica CD-15 B5 notebook (sky blue); Designworks Ink Notebook (Neptune blue); Appointed notebook (lavender gray)

Moleskine notebook (earth brown); Fieldnotes (lined); Apica CD-5 A7 notebooks (pastel); Smythson notebook (Nile blue); Fieldnotes (blank); Muji pen case; Uni-Ball black pen (0.5mm); Smythson pencil case (Nile blue); Moleskine cahier journal

15 Ways to Repurpose Your F&M Hamper

The F&M Hamper.

A Fortnum and Mason hamper is a gift that keeps on giving long after the original contents have been consumed. Traditionally, the hamper is filled with items from Fortnum’s food halls and given to a loved one as a gift. (Although, I’ve never thought of giving a hamper to anyone but myself.) The recipient will find items—jam, tea, biscuits, chocolate, wine—to elevate his/her next picnic. There are two ways to go about filling a hamper. You may choose one that has already been curated or you may decide to handpick the contents yourself. The distinguishable wicker hamper, which exists in a variety of sizes, can be seen atop countless picnic blankets across England. But, what of its other uses? I’ve been thinking of useful ways in which the hamper may be repurposed. Feel free to complete the following sentence as you see fit.

The F&M hamper may be used as a(n)…

  1. small, curated library
  2. boot box
  3. spa in a box
  4. crafting supplies catch-all
  5. plant stand
  6. planter
  7. lamp stand
  8. coffee table
  9. wine cellar
  10. toy chest
  11. healthy snacks box
  12. car emergency kit
  13. mail center
  14. bed for your four-legged friend
  15. end-of-the-bed trunk

Works Sighted

The Piccadilly Hamper

Browsing at Fortnum and Mason

A selection of items from Fortnum and Mason: tea towel, wine bottle holder, picnic carry all, teapot, tea strainer, teacup, white tea, mug, biscuits, Scotch egg, ornament, sparkling tea, honey

Browsing at Fortnum & Mason was one of my favorite pastimes when I lived in London full-time. The magical experience began outside with the signature blue-green hue of the ground floor’s exterior and its artfully-designed window displays. The red carpet, sparkling lighting fixtures, and counter of loose chocolates impressed me on my first visit to 181 Piccadilly. But, I soon realized that there was much more to F&M than what initially met my eye. Established in 1707, Fortnum and Mason is an institution known for its tea and food-filled wicker hampers. On your loop around the store, you’ll see biscuits in beautiful tins and picnic essentials like wine and jam. Additional offerings include: jewelry, stationary, books, tea towels, tote bags, and Christmas tree ornaments. (The author of A Christmas Carol himself was a customer here.) There’s also a tea salon on the 4th floor and bees residing on the rooftop. I’ve taken to browsing online, but my mental Fortnum’s shopping list continues to expand nonetheless.

Works Sighted

glass teapot; tea towel; picnic carry all; Champagne & wine bottle holder

tea strainer; teacup & saucer; white tea; mug; chocolate pearl biscuits; Scotch egg

Fortnum’s Dinner Party Discourse & Debate; cinnamon honey; tea caddy ornament; rosé sparkling tea

truffle honey; vanilla honey; bag; clock ornament