With just three days to go to the New Year and the launch of BrocanteHome, I have tonight listed the bookclub choices for each month of 2005. (Left)
While there are many lovely picture books dedicated to Vintage living, very few encompass a holistic approach to adopting the simpler way of life I hope BrocanteHome will come to represent, so the books I have chosen are both inspirational and very much more than the kind of books you would display on your coffee table. The kind of books, in fact, that I hope will change your life.
First on the list is of course, Simple Abundance, designed as a book of days there is an entry for every day of the year and here on BrocanteHome I will be relying on it for both comfort and inspiration…
"There is only one page left to write on. I will fill it with words of only one syllable. I love. I have loved. I will love."
I Capture The Castle was on BBC 2 this evening. Was there ever a more shambolically decadent film? I just love it, not only because of its gentle coming of age storyline, but because in all its shabby glory, the film is a feast for the eyes. The pea green lacy laundry! The tin bath! Rose’s powder pink dresses, and Topaz’s robes!
Dodie Smith more famously wrote The Hundred and One Dalmations, but it was with I Capture the Castle, her first novel, originally inspired by her homesickness for England (and of the eccentricity of the English there can be no better study) that Dodie first came to the world attention. Opening with the lines " I write this sitting in the kitchen sink", the book is a love story set in 1930s England following 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain, and the fortunes of her eccentric family, struggling to survive in a decaying English castle. Both funny and whimsical, it is a total delight and to my mind the film does not fail to do the book justice.
Who hasn’t dreamt of living in a castle?
Mark and I open our Christmas presents to each other late on Christmas Eve. This year after arranging the multitude of presents Finley received from Father Christmas, we collapsed onto the sofa at midnight, and presented our gifts to each other. My pile was tiny. A box of wine gums from Finley and two other book sized gifts. Trying not to look disappointed I opened my first gift, and to my delight found a (hard to find) Mary Englebreit Desk Calender. Mark was beaming at me, apparently delighted with himself for finding such a treasure. Well? he said. Well, Thank You, I replied. You haven’t looked inside have you? he said, kneeling on the floor next to my chair. So I did.
There inside, from January through to March, was a collection of business cards for various florists and jewellers in the area. In April’s section, there was a card showing a little boy wearing a top hat holding a little girls hand, in May, a picture of the eiffel Tower, and there in July, a card with the words "Marry Me…" scrawled inside.
For once in my life I was struck dumb.
We have been together for fourteen years and for one reason or another have never got round to walking down the aisle, but since I had Finley it has come to matter more and more and I had been praying for these little words…
Yes, Mark, I would be thrilled to be your wife…
Allow me to introduce Mary Englebreit…
If you haven’t already discovered her then you are in for a treat. Mary’s is the magazine I take to bed in my cosiest jim jams, a cup of tea in one hand and a bar of Green and Blacks in the other. It is, for home magazine afficionados, pure bliss.
Mary is an artist. She has in her time created over 4000 gorgeous images of children accompanied by inspirational quotes designed to make you smile. It sounds too cutesy for words, but every issue of the magazine is accompanied by a print from Marys collection and one of those old fashioned paper dolls with clothes to cut out and pin on, and while as I say it sounds a little too sickly sweet, the magazine is a total and absolute joy particuarly if you love vintage and artisan interiors.
In the UK, Mary Englebreits Home Companion is currently only available in branches of Borders, but you can get a taste of what is in store in any one of the books available at Amazon.
I love her so much that any one time, one of Marys wallpaper images adorns my laptop screen and once a month I make a special trip to a Borders store 30 miles away just to buy her magazine.
Ebay Item of the Week.
Hand-Painted Vintage Oak Chair.
Chairs, in all shapes and forms are beautiful. Used as bedside tables, adding decorative detail to a forgotten corner, or gathered around a table, I can always find a purpose for a chair. Vintage chairs are often a little bit wobbly and if so then this should be reflected in the price you pay. Just as it is with this lovely specimen. Hand-painted in cream and upholstered with an aubergine brocade, this chair has a starting price of just £29.99 and would add a fancy twist to many an interior.
The seller has a high 100% satisfaction rating and the auction finishes on the 13th January 2005. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of postage and packaging (£13.00) before you put in a bid.
Even if you can’t shape your life the way you want,
at least try as much as you can
not to degrade it
by too much contact with the world,
by too much activity and talk.
Do not degrade it by dragging it along,
taking it around and exposing it so often
to the daily silliness
of social relations and parties,
until it comes to seem a boring hanger-on.
A poem by C.P Cavafy.
Just in case you need an excuse for hibernating this Christmas.
Occasionally I think the choice to be a stay at home Mom was the stupidest decision I have ever made. When its chucking down with rain, Finley is crawling the walls and I am dying to be the woman I used to be, I ache to be a real person with and an ordinary nine to five life and a caring childminder. While I love my son to bits, I, like every other SAHM, yearn for adult conversation and the kind of creative challenges that don’t include Lego or the Fimbles. I wander around the house and wonder what I am doing with my life, whether running my teeny tiny business is daft and whether I am providing my little boy with everything he needs by keeping him by my side 24 hrs a day.
But then there are days like this. Days when all is right with my world. When the house is sparkling, Finley is an angel and my favorite day of the year is only a nights sleep away. This morning I have baked mince pies, wrapped a thousand presents, and watched my favorite film of all time "Little women" (Oh, for a crinoline to hide my huge hips!). Clove scented candles are twinkling on the fireplace, friends are coming for dinner and my very own Father Christmas is out buying treasures all for me (God forbid he should have to shop for anyone else: that is of course, my job!).
Yes, life at home can be hard. One year olds are disastrous conversationalists. But days like this are sent to remind us to make the most of seasonal celebrations, and while I for one think every day should include your own little rituals, personal pleasures and teeny celebrations, the TV schedules only reward us with treats like "Little Women" at Christmas time and Finley can only be allowed to play football in his reindeer antlers once or twice a year…