let's be tourists: Hotel Pulitzer

 The Prinsengracht canal with Hotel Pulitzer on the right.

The Prinsengracht canal with Hotel Pulitzer on the right.

 My own version of room service—salad, berries, bread and chocolate—brought home from the grocery store around the corner.

My own version of room service—salad, berries, bread and chocolate—brought home from the grocery store around the corner.

 The packaging looks better than the taste!

The packaging looks better than the taste!

 The hotel is made up of 25 canal houses connected through atriums and passageways.

The hotel is made up of 25 canal houses connected through atriums and passageways.

 No view of the canals from my room, but inside it was very comfortable.

No view of the canals from my room, but inside it was very comfortable.

 Exploring the halls and connections of the hotel led to some buildings with more ornamentation such as this on a ceiling overhead.

Exploring the halls and connections of the hotel led to some buildings with more ornamentation such as this on a ceiling overhead.

Transient
Transient

All my print bills get put on my credit card and so the associated loyalty points add up to quite a bit. So that I wouldn't have to outlay any cash for my accommodations in Amsterdam, I stayed at the only (swanky) hotel available through the credit card points system. In a great location, Hotel Pulitzer was a nice splurge (though their wifi was very expensive and they had an annoying mini bar that wouldn't allow me to store my fruit without it charging me.) I suspect that you have to pay some "real" money instead of points to stay in one of the grander houses!

 A view into the hotel's courtyard.

A view into the hotel's courtyard.

vlieger paper

Transient
Transient
Transient

I love looking at paper. Oh, the possibilities! Caroline recommended that I would enjoy a visit to Vlieger Papier and she was right. I spent some money on both levels: on the main floor was a never-ending assortment of sheets of paper, wrapping paper, tapes... I can't get enough of these patterned boxes (I miss stocking such things from a few years back when UPPERCASE was also a retail store for papergoods.) I purchased an assortment of "manly" tapes for Glen—a fluorescent duct tape, an orange plastic tape and a yellow- and red-hashed washi tape. (I have more than enough washi tape, so I thought Glen might like some for his projects and use in the garage.)

Transient

On the upper level, one could find any art supply that one fancies. There I selected some wax/watercolour chunky crayons for Finley's Christmas stocking.

 Amsterdam-brand paints.

Amsterdam-brand paints.

 It was a grey day, but this bright orange was a common colour in the city.

It was a grey day, but this bright orange was a common colour in the city.

 Workers in the street, dressed for visibility.

Workers in the street, dressed for visibility.

 Pickup brand stickers and letters.

Pickup brand stickers and letters.

Dispatch from London: Smug

Donna Wilson made me a list of places to see and Smug was one of the destinations. A pretty multi-level boutique in Camden Passage, Smug is the curation and styling of Lizzie Evans:

"Lizzie remembers spending her pocket money in Camden Passage as a little girl. Now as an interior and graphic designer, she has turned a regular shop front into a light and airy designed space filled with 1950s furniture, handmade toys, gorgeous stationery, quirky kitchenware, and chic ceramics. The space retains its old waxed boards and rusty manhole covers, but introduces sheets of glass as balustrades and portions of the floor, allowing light to penetrate the downstairs of the retail haven."

The floor on the upper level was fantastic! I loved all the textures and contrasts in Smug's shop design.

Dispatch from London: Labour and Wait

At least five people recommended that I visit the shop Labour and Wait, in the Brick Lane area of London. A meld of a hardware store, curio shop and fashion boutique, Labour and Wait offers timeless and classic design basics for living simply:

"The inspiration for Labour and Wait came from owners Rachel Wythe-Moran and Simon Watkins, both designers with menswear backgrounds who grew frustrated at having to redesign products and ranges every season.

There was no time allowed for products to mature and establish themselves and, in time, become classics themselves. The demands of seasonal retail trends had become more important than the products being sold.

To counter this, Rachel and Simon envisioned a place where functional, well designed, timeless products would always be available. Taking inspiration from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s exhortation to ‘Learn to Labour and to Wait’, they set up shop in 2000 in the old Victorian terrace of Cheshire Street, in the heart of East London’s market district. Here, they gradually sourced all the products that fitted their ethos of functionality, quality and honesty, and slowly established themselves as one of the leading independent shops in London." Read more on their website.

The shop is empeccably curated and very focused in its aesthetic. Simple tags, twine and butcher string brand the everyday items such as brushes, pencils and enamel cups. Their extensive inventory is available in their online shop as well.

Shopkeeper Richard was very agreeable to my photo-taking while he was busy assembling the workglove packaging (which makes all the difference in elevating the mundane into something special).

He asked that I take a portrait of him smiling for his mum:

Well worth a visit when you're in London. 

type tuesday: Museum of Childhood


When I return to London (for now that I've been once, I'll have to go back again and again) with Finley and Glen, we'll go to the V & A Museum of Childhood together. This free museum had excellent displays of traditional and historical childhood toys, but also areas for play and a nice place to have a lunch as a family.

This spelling cabinet from 1790 caught my eye. What an amazing specimen!

If it has letters on it, I'm automatically drawn to it.

This 1890s Victorian party programme outlined the activities for a wealthy child's party.

Some more modern-day items. (It's funny to see the Fisher Price village as "museum quality" — the one I played with some 30+ years ago is now Finley's.)

The boy mannequins look unhappy and worried about getting their clothes dirty. If anyone knows where you can get these Left and Right alphabet shoes today, I think Finley and I would both be happy.

Dispatch from London: Ray Stitch (part 2)

I'm home in Calgary again and trying to take it easy since I really pushed myself on this trip and caught a cold at the end of it. Our home's internet, TV and phones were out for the past day so that was actually quite useful in contributing to some down time.

As promised, here are some of the fine folks who attended the Ray Stitch meet and greet.

From top to bottom: Ray Stitch is Rachel Hart's wonderful shop. That's her behind the counter in the teal sweater. / Excellent food for the event. / Lots of people came to say hi! I'm sorry, in my fog I have forgotten some names. Here's Janet Clare with her book, Freya & Fred. / Alex and Pui-Yee browse the latest issues. / That's Francisca Prieto (profiled in issue #12) and me. We look related, I think! / More details of the event and fine folks who supported it by braving traffic and weather.

Dispatch from London: Ray Stitch (part 1)

Ray Stitch is a very attractive shop. Here are some exterior photos before the Meet & Greet event, after (another) rain shower. Fitting, though, for issue #13 which is about how weather affects/inspires creativity.

More about the event and people pictures to follow in the next while. Thank you to everyone who came out and to Rachel and Michelle for their efforts, this great venue to meet my readers and for the all-round support of UPPERCASE. Thank you to Sam for the tasty food.

UPPERCASE meet and greet tonight in London's Ray Stitch

Please join me at Ray Stitch, tonight (Friday) at 7pm. Click here for directions. (If you want to purchase a copy of the latest issue (#13), Ray Stitch has the only copies in London.) It's an evening of craft and conversation surrounded by the inspiring haberdashery and fabric selection offered by Ray Stitch. We'll be stringing together colourful bead necklaces, an activity that was such a hit at the Alt Summit. It's a free activity, easy and fun to do while noshing and sipping and talking.

See you!

If you're not in London we have a consolation discount code: meetandgreet for $5 off your order until end of day Saturday. 

Dispatch from London: Spitalfields with Emily Chalmers

Emily Chalmers: Caravan, Flea Market Style, Modern Vintage Style... Chances are, you love Emily's styling aesthetic as much as I do. Emily generously wrote the introduction to Tif Fussell's Dottie Angel book and though she and Tif were acquainted, I had not yet had the pleasure of meeting Emily in person. We arranged to meet for the Thursday vintage market at Old Spitalfields Market. Emily has a 4-month old (beautiful!) daughter who napped in her white pram while we strolled the booths.

Emily's old and new, mix and match style makes for homey and eclectic rooms—as well as a unique personal clothing style. I always admire people who can wear vintage pieces, but it never seems to suit me. I loved the textures and contrasts of her outfit.

The child's rolltop desk was something we both instantly were drawn to. Emily's daughter will get use this as she grows older and arrangements were made to bring it home.

The pile of letters spelled "coiffeur" and were only sold as a set (not to us, sadly.)

I could easily start a collection of antique ink bottles, but I resist the urge!

Me in my yellow jacket besides some typewriters. I have seen a lot of Londoners in the past week and I have not seen a single soul wearing a yellow slicker.

I would have purchased the tin sign "World's Greatest Weekly for Women" if it would have fit in my luggage.

Dispatch from London: Alternative Fashion Week

This morning I had the unique opportunity to meet Emily Chalmers (more on this visit later!) at Spitalfields Market. After Emily went home, I wandered into the end of a fashion show as part of Alternative Fashion Week. The models started to filter out backstage and outside and there were lots of men with big cameras taking photos. Since I was armed with my big lens, I decided to blend in with the journalists/paparazzi.

All the other photographers seemed to be men in neutral colours and there I was in my bright yellow rain slicker and patterned Orla Kiely bag, but no one paid me much attention.

I figured I could always pull out my magazine credentials!