Thursday, June 28, 2012

Creativity, Soap and Old Tile

I just love surrounding myself with creative people every single day. Exciting designs and experimental projects are constantly underway. It’s like an ant hill simply buzzing with life. Sometimes things don’t really turn out but usually, they do. Other times, we’ll make something that’s intended for an article for the magazine but ends up actually being put into production. We never know exactly where it ends. And it HAS happened that we’ve had to give up and admit that some idea that sounded brilliant definitely wasn’t after all. Like that one time almost 8 years ago, when we were going to write an article about homemade soap.
BEFORE we began, we were convinced that we could head into the kitchen and produce soaps that we could sell. That was BEFORE Lonnie and I got started on the project. In a way, it was easy enough – and the soaps smelled pretty good, but they were NOT pretty. Before long, we had to face facts that we’d best hold on to our day jobs. Yet another lesson in the art of limitations. On the other hand, you don’t know what you might be good at until you try it. We could have had a hidden talent for soap making. Speaking of soap – the July issue offers a peek inside a real Provence soap factory that’s still making soap from the old recipes and methods that they’ve used for generations. It’s truly fascinating meeting people who take pride in their traditions and uphold the artisanry. And they make really PRETTY soap! Which you can purchase from Jeanne d’Arc Living retailers.

A lot has definitely happened since that time at Lonnie’s kitchen counter, but the creativity and desire to continue delving into new projects and realizing crazy ideas is thankfully still there. And luckily, we have a whole group of employees who are just as crazy.
One of the new items in our collection that I personally love is these tiles with writing. They’re designed by Dorte Palsgaard and made by Ole in our workshop. The tile itself is handmade in Greece and the rest is done here on site.

Last night, a friend of mine suggested applying several layers of lacquer and placing it as a simple decoration in a floor with neutral tiles. I could see that being really striking and beautiful. To start, I’m going to just have one as a decoration on a shelf – really simple. /Vivian

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

From Idea to Reality

It often happens that we walk around revolving an idea for a long time here at the office – without taking it any further.
One of the things I’ve wanted to make for a long time is a beautiful calendar.
I don’t care too much for the ones at the bookstore but with a family of five, I really do need calendars. I need a wall calendar in my kitchen with an overview of the entire month and room to write in all the appointments of different members of the family so my husband and children can SEE THE APPOINTMENTS THEMSELVES!
AND I need a calendar to keep on the kitchen counter with a little more space to write for each day… But it’s not something you just throw together…it actually takes quite a bit of work, and the sales period is pretty brief. So for years, the idea was never realized. Every time I’ve gone to buy a new one, we’ve end up talking about it here.
After all, practically every family has a calendar like that in some form or other… and we all agree that we should make some. So last year, when our partners in Holland – Erik and Ineke – mentioned that their customers would like one as well, we started looking a little further into the possibility of making them. Now it was getting to be within reach. The planning in terms of appearance, which photos to use, etc. could begin. We quickly zeroed in on the sizes. There had to be enough room to write in notes and appointments while also doing the pictures justice.Also, the “book version” had to be the right size to carry in a purse.
Right now, Tina’s making layouts for the table/purse model – it’s going to be SO nice! 160 pages of beautiful photos along with fun and relevant little texts.
A beautiful layout with the esthetics front and center – JUST the thing for me. I’m already looking forward to getting one for myself. As you know, that’s a really good starting point. It won’t be long now before Helle gets started on the wall calendar.
It’s a very exciting and creative process once we get to the details – which small curlicue or which font, etc.
Unfortunately, we currently only have the basis for making them in Danish, German and Dutch. But if they become a success, we’ll definitely expand the production with more languages and products in the same line. /Vivian

Friday, June 15, 2012

Nettles & Goutweed

For a while, we've been talking about writing an article about cooking with ingredients found in nature. It’s a very “in” thing right now – and also a pretty fun idea. And imagine the trips we could make when going out to gather things. That's really going back to basics… we were into the idea.
A girlfriend had given Lonnie a recipe for juice from fresh pine shoots, and we've used fresh beech leaves in a salad in connection with an article for next year. It was both different and visually attractive. So the planning was on. What were we going to make…
We all knew about nettle soup and goutweed in salads. These days, ramson is pretty much available at the greengrocers here in Denmark like any other vegetable – so that didn’t quite fit into the category. Hmmm… we've also seen TV shows where they gathered heather on the heath or seaweed by the beach.
So we get to talking about how and where we would need to gather all these things – what's good and what isn't? We have no idea. We had a discussion and as it turns out, we feel like this is a pretty difficult project that we've gotten ourselves into. Finally, one of us exclaimed: Does any of us actually want to eat these things?! We couldn't exactly say that we do – no… actually, we don’t. We don’t want to gather the ingredients or eat them. But then why make it? If we don’t want to do it, then our readers probably won't want to either. Isn’t it exactly our philosophy to make food that's easy and straightforward?
So instead, we wrote the article that you got a sneak peak of yesterday – easy and delicious recipes with peaches and nectarines. Because they're available at the farmers’ market right now at affordable prices. And THAT tastes good!
Have a nice weekend. /Vivian

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Small Twist

Like one of our faithful Danish blog readers, Tina, so nicely wrote to me: we can’t be good at everything.
That is, of course, the gospel truth. None of us can be Superwoman and simply do everything perfectly. We have to cut a few corners here and there. And that’s something one can be really good at.
That’s me – for some reason, everyone who knows me has always thought that I’m one of those women with inexhaustible reserves of energy who makes everything herself. In fact, I’m not – but I’m really good at putting a small twist on things: making some of it from scratch so it seems kind of homemade.
Today we went on a photo shoot and shot two food articles for the magazine. Suzanne and I actually get teased a bit about how we’re always trying to cheat – but we don’t think of it as cheating…not really. It’s about making things a bit simpler sometimes. As long as we’re honest about it and pass on the ideas, we think it’s OK.
We made this lovely fruit pie, among other things. The crust is pre-made puff pastry. We’re not at all ashamed of showing that in the magazine. It can be the very thing that makes the difference between whether you make the pie or not – on those occasions when time is short – and after all, we did bake the crust, make the cream from whipping cream, crème fraiche and vanilla beans and cut up the fruit! So there’s the recipe, in case you feel like making it.
PS. The beers were shared and enjoyed in a sunny spot outside the editorial office when we got back – together with one of our graphic designers and with a snack of peanuts mixed with dried fruit. /Vivian

Monday, June 11, 2012

The End of the Summer Flowers

I can’t put it off much longer…I have to confess. You’ve probably been wondering why you haven’t read anything about my “Project Summer Flowers” for a long time…
I’ve finished off the fledgling plants in my summerhouse. I’m simply not suited to be a “plant mother.”
We had the most amazing weather for Whitsun here in Denmark: clear, sunny skies and 28 degrees in the shade.
I enjoyed it to the full – went away for the weekend with my husband and kids for three days – and forgot all about the poor little plants.
It must have been at least twice as hot in the summerhouse, and what little water they had must have already evaporated the first day.
When we returned home on Monday and found them limp and slumped over the type box, I pretty much knew that it was over.
Nonetheless, I put them outside in the fresh air and provided them with new supplies. Both Lars and I have been checking on them several times a day. But to no avail.
We probably should have done that BEFORE we left. They actually should have been planted out…they were big enough for it.
And then we should have arranged for someone to check on them…
But I didn’t get around to it and now it’s over. They never turned into more than tiny seedlings – quite embarrassing, considering how many of you were following their progress here on the blog.
I’ll just have to admit once and for all that this is not were my abilities and interests lie. I’ve never been good at these things and probably never will be.
I’m more of a perennial girl – at least they look after themselves. And then I’m happy to pick a bouquet of wildflowers or buy a few bunches from the greengrocer to supplement. /Vivian

Monday, June 4, 2012

Roadside Beauties

I simply love going for a long walk and picking a beautiful bouquet from the roadside. The stretch from our summerhouse down to the bay is where I walk most often. I've walked it many a time over the past 17 years. I still really love it. Seems like new flowers show up every year...
It's a 1 1/4-mile walk each way, yet it took three hours last Saturday - because my 10-year-old daughter has had her eyes opened to the beauties of the roadside.
There's lots of talking, smelling and examining along the way. /Vivian

Friday, June 1, 2012

Merry Christmas

It's here. The beautiful new Christmas 2012 series, which consists of 10 different series. Look here and let you inspire. What do you want for Christmas? Here are som of the handmade creations. /Tina

Blessings to you :)

We take inspiration from many different places, items and impressions. It can be anything under the sun. Jeanne d'Arc Living has just shipped this beautiful range out to the stores. The range is inspired by old French holy cards or prayer cards that have now been given new life through an amazingly beautiful print decorated with our very own lace and a small metal flower. Everything is handmade and produced in our own workshop. Find it at your local Jeanne d'Arc Living retailer. /Tina