Thursday, May 29, 2014

A List For May, Before She Goes

A List for May, Before She Goes
Looking back now, it’s easy for me to see that the movie Camelot was a bonafide product of the sixties.  Everything from the hairstyles to the set design echoed the bohemian look of that decade (though one could certainly argue that medieval England was no doubt blessed with more than it’s share of bohemian touches, so perhaps the movie was more accurate than was readily apparent at the time).  But when I was a little girl, I wasn’t parsing scenes with a critical eye towards design styles and influences.  All I saw was unrivaled beauty and romance and I simply adored every single thing about that movie, except the detestable Mordred, of course. When Queen Guinevere and her court picnicked in the forest in the “lusty month of May” I knew that May had to be the prettiest month of them all.  

This particular May has done nothing whatsoever to water down that  long held belief.  The earth seems to sigh in breezes that fill the air with the fragrance of tea olive and jasmine, invoking sweet memory and unguarded hope.  Not yet the uniform green of summer, each tree sports different shades of this  same colour - emerald, apple, lemon-lime - weaving a tapestry worthy of dreams.  There are tiny shamrock-coloured cucumbers on the vines in the garden.  The strawberries are red, all the way through.

Like October, May hangs in the sweet spot between seasons, sheltered from the extremes of weather that demand our attention and cause us to bend to their will. She makes me think of all good things.  And a few ones, simply fun.  Here’s a short list of some of those. 
 Enjoy the few remaining days of May!   
1.  Setting a Whimsical Dinner Table
It’s probably a good thing that I live in an old house with limitations of storage.  Otherwise I would be prone to indulge my passionate love of whimsical china and pottery even more than I already do.  As it is, I never set the same table twice.  I love to mix old with new, conservative with outlandish.   A centerpiece of artichokes and white roses?  Transferware and art deco?  Or a piece of art pottery with a medieval looking lady peering out from the center?  Well, why not.
This pitcher by Amanda Popham totally captures my heart.  
I can see the entire table in my head, right down to the napkin rings of wound ivy. 
Find more of Ms. Popham’s amazing work HERE.
2.  New Old Pillows
If you’re like me, spring cleaning is not a fictional activity.  In May, everything outside my windows is so fresh, so new, I want everything inside  to feel precisely the same.  So windows are washed and floors are waxed.  Closets are cleaned, drawers are straightened.  And often, new things are found to spruce things up a bit.  Or to be honest, it’s usually old things that are new to my house.  To that end.... new/old pillows have just landed in my etsy shoppe. 
Find them HERE..
3.  Maps
There are maps in my head. Whenever I’m trapped someplace where it’s difficult or ill-advised to read or knit - in traffic, for instance, or the security line at the airport - I often play a mental game in which I retrace the ones that wind through a particularly beloved journey from time past, recalling every detail, every bend in the road, from arrival to departure. 
 I remember the way the road curved down to the left
 the first time I spied Ailsa Craig. 
The blackness of the night on the unlit road through Acadia National Park
 that time we were scared out of our wits by the
 glowing eyes of a herd of deer on the verge.
 A woolen fog in the hills above Oban;
 fog that covered our path and rendered us hopelessly, happily, lost. 
 They are maps unique to my life; not of much interest to others
  Imagine how delicious it would be to have a map such as this in reality.  A document of a personal journey of your own, one that you wish to remember forever; one you often follow along again in your dreams.  

Well this is precisely what is created by artist, Connie Stone, at Redstone Studios.  Maps that look as though they were fashioned by wizards; maps that document special, personal, journeys as individual as each person who commissions one.  Just wonderful, don’t you think.  See more HERE.
 4.  Nell’s Pattern
It was a yarn shop on the Isle of Skye that made me a knitter. 
 Perched on a cliff above the sea - its shelves full of soft colourful yarns provided by the sheep right outside its windows and dyed with the herbs from the dye garden at the edge of the hill - it was the most beautiful spot in the world, at least to my eyes, and I vowed to learn to knit, and knit well, as I reluctantly drove away.  Coming home I knew I needed to find a really good, really patient, really talented, teacher.  And I did, in Nell Ziroli.  Wonderfully inventive and amazingly knowledgable, she led me into the knitting world with the enthusiasm of a life long knitter and I’ve never looked back.
  Nell is a brilliant pattern designer and it was such a delight to open the brand-new look book from the renown knitting company, Brooklyn Tweed, and find one of Nell’s new sweater patterns.   On a very famous model, no less!  If you are a knitter, and I know from my letters quite a few of my readers are just that, you simply must pick up this pattern.  
I know Nell’s designs to be both flattering and fun to knit. 
 I’m so proud of her!  
Find the pattern HERE.
 5. Key Lime Yogurt
I can’t tell you how often I forget to eat lunch.  I’m not sure what it is, but I’ll get busy and by the time my tummy tells me its hungry, the hands on the clock say 4:30 or 5.  Too late for lunch, too early for dinner.  We eat a lot of early dinners because of this.  Our schedule just might normalize this summer, though, because I’ve discovered this new Key Lime flavour of Chobani yogurt.  I wake up thinking about it.  It’s destined to be my summer lunch every day this year.  You must try it.
6. Radios
When the end of May rolls around and summer knocks on my windows with its fists full of kites and beach towels, I think of these.  
Old-fashioned radios playing crackly AM stations. 
 Listening to The Drifters, The Beatles - Bobby Darin, Petula Clark.  Maybe a baseball game.
 And they are even MP3 compatible. 
Find them HERE.
7.  Tree Swings
I mean, really.
Under the oak trees, just left of the croquet court?
Anyone wish to join me?
Wait till you see what they’re made of.
Find them HERE

8.  Naps
Like my father before me, I have a great affinity for naptime. 
 The health benefits of naps are, to me, undeniable. 
 Although I have never been able to convince The Songwriter of this,
 a twenty minute escape before an open window, eyes closed,
thoughts adrift until they evaporate into brief sleep,
 is a blissful way to recharge and reboot. 
 And now that I’ve found this new chart I feel completely validated 
in my devotion to the practice. 
 See it HERE.

9.  Library Wallpaper
Even with the weather rapidly dialing up to HOT,
 I always have a little bit of autumn tucked inside my soul. 
 When I spied this new wallpaper from House of Hackney in London,
 I couldn’t help myself. 
 I could see an autumn library, complete with dark woods and a roaring fire.  
A little dash of brandy in a crystal glass.
  A big white dog on an Axminster.
  Can’t you just see it?  Or is it just me?
  Find it HERE.
10.  Espadrilles
The only thing that can take away the sting of having to package up my favourite boots till fall is the total delight in wearing espadrilles all summer long.  My toes are in heaven.
These are the best espadrilles in the world.
I bought the peach ones this year.
Find them HERE 

10.  Recipes for Life, Love and Art
Last year, May found me in the land of Bloomsbury. I was in heaven wandering the rooms of Charleston Farmhouse... a private tour no less. I adored Monk’s House and Berwick Church, where we were again fortunate to be the only ones present in that beautiful place. We even stayed right at Sissinghurst Garden, an experience I highly recommend. 
This May, instead of boarding a plane, I went back to Bloomsbury via this marvelous new book. Ostensibly a cookbook, but so, so much more, The Bloomsbury Cookbook is chock full of wonderful photographs, delightful selections from writings and letters, little snippets of remembrances from various and sundry Bloomsbury members, and yes, even recipes from those heady, creative days; 
recipes with charming names such as Meat Bobbity and Bunga Bunga.
 You’ll find Dora Carrington’s Sloe Gin and Roger Fry’s Orange Marmalade. 

Just take a look at this quote from a letter 
to Virginia Woolf from T.S. Eliot, dated June 2, 1927:
“I am free for tea on Wednesday or Thursday or for dinner on Wednesday.
 And if any of those times suited you, I should be very glad to show you
 what little I know about The Grizzly Bear, or the Chicken Strut”

Trust me, this book is a treasure.
Find it HERE.
Summer Reading Post Coming Soon!


  1. Fabulous list of gorgeous items for spring/summer Pamela. Please advise, do those good looking espadrilles stay up at the backs (a problem I've had with others that are flimsy)? Do you buy your regular size?
    Oh to have better knitting skills and to be able to knit such a fabulous sweater - it's a stunner and so modern with side slits which I love.

    I'm not heading to the Highlands of Scotland but will have a little time in England soon! Getting ready to leave on what should be another very interesting and beautiful trip! I feel photos will be necessary later to share the voyage.

    Happy end of May week - another month has just flown by far too fast.
    Mary x

  2. Hopefully, you May is drier than our which is turning out to be as wet and chill as April should have been, but wasn't. How amazing you mention House of Hackney wallpaper. Can it really have made its way across the Atlantic. The ochre peony print graces the walls of a London cloakroom. Hackney is of course a rather ambivalent part of London so perhaps the name is tongue in cheek ?

  3. I've located your espadrilles close by and am headed that way this afternoon. The price is definitely right. Hope they have the color I want. :-) The Store Locator at the bottom of the website you referred us to may help your readers find a store in their town as well. Shoes, I like to try on first for a good fit, particularly when the toe is closed, and I'm sure there will be other items in the store to tempt me.

  4. P. S. Pamela, have you ever visited the web site ? There's enough pottery on this web site to keep one enthralled for hours on end.

  5. Your number seven is my breakfast and lunch!I JUST ADORE IT!The amount is perfect and I tend to put some gluten free granola on it in the morning........absolutely DELICIOUS!
    I love MAY too...............tell me what is TEA OLIVE?I adore fragrance in the garden and I do not know what that is?A TREE or bush.....someone tell me please!
    The ESPADRILLES are divine........had a woman to dinner the other night and she had on the peach colored!I of course, want them all...........
    My garden is blooming on my site please take a gander as I think you will enjoy!Edward too for that matter!
    Thanks for sharing your tips..........I love the map idea!

  6. What a wonderful list to share. Thank you.

  7. Your treasures all make me want to indulge Pamela.

  8. Just before May departed we visited Wells, the smallest city in England and not unlike Camelot. Streets built in medieval times and still occupied, wonderful cathedral clocks and fairy tale towers surrounded by a moat. Just up your street Pamela. You can do a virtual visit on my blog, quick whilst the sun still shines!

  9. Just found the cookbook at the library.

  10. Dear Pamela, I had a very cloudy and cold May here in Maine.
    That artist Popham is fantastic, so very original. My Daughter Renee
    is hooked on the Lime Chobani. It's always in the refridgerator.

  11. Well, I guess you heard, No triple crown this year either. Baahh Humbug.
    Enjoy the Sunday, smell the roses. yvonne

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