Bee Smitten is a new column on amywatsonsmith.com focusing on the beautiful things with which I am “smitten.” It is essentially a curated collection of things that are among my favorites–life simply would not be the same without these. It is meant to be for everyone who enjoys beautiful things, delicious food and great adventures, but it may be particularly useful for those of us who have little time to find these things on our own (busy bees) and who appreciate someone doing the filtering for us. Every week or so I will feature one of my favorite things.
The inspiration for this idea came from Miss Judy, my mother’s oldest and dearest friend. Miss Judy was a great Southern lady and style icon.
Notice I did not say fashion icon. Miss Judy was not concerned with fashion. She had a certain flair and confidence about her style. She might wear an inexpensive khaki a-line skirt, a crisp white blouse and loafers but then she would throw a Liberty of London scarf around her neck and look like a million bucks.
The truly wonderful thing about Miss Judy’s style, however, was that she always seemed to be able to find some unique item that one “simply could not live without.” And then she would buy dozens and share them with her friends. I’ll never forget the time she discovered a particular hair brush made in France. My mother received this gift with the statement that it was the best brush ever and Miss Judy just knew Mother was going to love it. It appeared to be a rather normal looking brush to me, but when I picked it up and ran the bristles through my hair, I realized she was right. It was an absolutely perfect brush. My mother and I both wept when the handle finally broke in two and we were not able to use it anymore. Whether it was a luxurious hair brush, a pot of jam or a new book, Miss Judy always found the best things and shared them with her friends.
I have always loved the idea of finding something that I absolutely love and then letting my friends and loved ones in on the secret. It seems to transform an ordinary object into something precious. It is now imbued with so much more meaning–a dear friend has brought you into her world and shared something with you that she loves.
With this column, I hope to do the same thing with you–share some of the things I love most in the world with friends.
Bee Smitten #1: The Smell of Autumn in a Candle
I am so excited to begin sharing a few of my favorite things with you in this new column Bee Smitten. There are so many things on my list but I had to start somewhere.
I am starting with my favorite candle for fall and winter: the Stag Candle by Patch NYC.
I love this candle because the aroma is very distinctive. It reminds me of being in the woods on an autumn afternoon the air crisp and clean with a note of fir trees and wood smoke lingering. I can almost hear the crunch of fallen leaves beneath my feet and taste the mulled apple cider right now.
I think that I selected this candle for my first pick because it represents several things for me. The first is that whenever I light it, I immediately feel warm, safe and cozy. Who doesn’t love that feeling?
This candle is also ideally suited to this time of year which is my favorite season. In Charleston we don’t get much of a fall, so this is a reminder of the times and places I have lived where leaves turned brilliant shades of red and orange and there was a chill in the air.
Finally this candle is one that I can actually smell. Over the last few years I have begun to lose my sense of smell (connected to my allergies and all of the lovely year-long blooming things in this part of the world). Somehow this is one of the only aromatic candles that I can smell.
Click this link to go to their website. They also carry several other scents and products but this one is my favorite. It would make a great gift for a man with the woodsy smell and stag image. It is also made in the USA.
For my local readers, visit Out of Hand in the Old Village, Mount Pleasant to find this candle as well as the other scents from Patch NYC.
What are the smells that you associate with fall? I’d love to hear from you.
Bee Smitten #2: Banner Celebrations
- Merry Christmas banner by Elisabeth Hunter
I am writing today about one of my favorite things made by one of my favorite people: celebration banners by Elisabeth Hunter (Charleston, South Carolina).
Just in time for the holidays, these hand-made banners are perfect for gifts or for decorating your own home.
I was so excited to see the brown paper package at my doorstep yesterday afternoon!
I suppose I should have bought this as a gift for someone else but I just couldn’t resist the tartan plaid.
- Even Hattie and Chester were filled with joy!
I asked Elisabeth to tell me a bit more about how she got started making these banners. Her story follows below.
“I grew up watching my Mom and Grandmother sew (and occasionally helping) but had never tackled a project on my own.
After [my first child] Henry was born, I was a stay-at-home Mama for the first time (I’d been a work-from-home-newlywed for the previous two years) and I found that after the newborn stage passed, I craved a creative outlet. I got a sewing machine and for my nephew’s first birthday, I made him a birthday banner. It remains one of my favorites. For the following year I gave birthday banners to many friends and family members.
I had put my sewing machine up (when sewing it lives on our dining room table or in the middle of our den) in early 2011, but in July we got George’s diagnosis* and I pulled it back out. I needed a distraction from Web MD and sewing provided it. I sewed compulsively for the next 3 months while waiting to move to Boston for his birth.
I go through phases where I tire of the mess it makes in the middle of our house but it’s hard to stop myself from buying pretty fabric when I see it. I’ve enjoyed making holiday banners this year because it gives me a little bit of focus … and selling them makes this a hobby that pays for itself and gives me money to indulge my insatiable appetite for classic children’s clothes.”
*I am saving George’s amazing story for a later post.
Pricing for the banners is based on the banner’s length. Short ones like “Boo!” or “JOY” are $15, longer ones “Thankful”, “Grateful”, “Give Thanks”, “Believe” are $25 and long ones “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Birthday” are $35. Prices include shipping in a padded envelope. To add a name to a birthday banner, please add $10.
To order one of Elisabeth’s banners, email her at email@example.com.
All photos are by Elisabeth Hunter unless otherwise specified.