Oct 15

2015

Life on the Farm: The Pig Rider

My husband loves to tell people that he rode ponies as a kid,  but that once he got on a motorbike around age 15, he never rode a horse again until only recently. When my son Zach grows up I suspect he’ll tell a similar tale, but in his case it will be pigs that lured him away from horses. When Zach was 7, his uncle Charlie got two rather large KuneKune pigs. Knowing that Zach had a bad fall off his pony the year before and had shied away from horse riding since, Charlie had it in his head that Zach would find it more fun to ride the pigs! I thought it was a silly idea and didn’t give it much thought until one afternoon when Charlie turned up in our garden. ..


Oct 13

2015

Life in England: Game of Thrones

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“The monogram is that of William III who updated the building.”

I came home from New York last week and picked up the latest World of Interiors. I so look forward to my subscription every month and always love what they shoot, but every now and then something in that magazine just stops me dead in my tracks. This time it was the Hampton Court Palace Royal Tennis Courts right here in England where princes and kings have been whacking around hand stitched felt balls since 1625.  These photos really captured me. In an aesthetic way, they say everything I love about England. ..


Oct 09

2015

I did a little collaboration with Anthropologie the other day. I have always loved their home things – I recently bought the Italian Campaign canopy bed for my daughter’s room – and then discovered that their clothes also suit my life on the farm so well. So in celebration of my London launch of Always Pack a Party Dress with Anthropologie, I chose my favourite things from their store and worked them into my life here at Fairgreen. Since then, I’ve found myself checking their website regularly so I don’t miss good things that come up and then go quickly – like a set of copper colanders I bought last week. I’m into it!


Oct 06

2015

On the Road: Art School in Venice

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Talk about a room with a view. I imagine it would take discipline to be in that room and paint anything other than what was right in front of you.

Way back in April when I wasn’t blogging, Christopher and I took the kids to Venice for the Easter holidays. Christopher was adamant that we not run ourselves ragged checking off every crowded, tourist-y box while we were there. As it was Coco and Zach’s first trip to the iconic Italian city we did of course play with the pigeons in Piazza San Marco, buy Murano glass in a shop next to the Peggy Guggenheim museum and stuff ourselves silly at Antiche Caramagne, the seafood restaurant everyone told us we must visit. ..


Oct 01

2015

Life on the Farm: Walking Hound Puppies

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I think Gingy secretly loved the hound puppies. At first she felt very superior and loved to growl to put them in their place. But then I could see her get excited when I would let them out of their stable to join us for a walk. Ultimately they completely dominated Ginger. But submission is Gingy’s default mode anyway, so I don’t think she minded.

Our five month odyssey of babysitting foxhound puppies came to an end the other day. I had been bracing myself for the inevitable tears that I thought would come from taking in eight week old puppies – loving them, training them, walking them, nurturing them and very often scolding them – for nearly half a year and then one day sending them off to go live their intended life with the local hunt. Why had I set myself up for such heartache? But in the end, I didn’t even get to say goodbye to them – the huntsman came to collect them unexpectedly when I was on a trip to New York. And that was ok. I was a bit sad and nostalgic but also comforted by the knowledge that they are just about a couple miles down the road and we can see them when we wish. Mostly though, I was relieved. ..


Sep 28

2015

Snapshot: The Girl Who Won Fashion Month

The endless parade of street style looks isn’t even over yet (Paris is still to come!), but I’m going to jump the gun here and crown model Emma Oak the winner. I love everything about this look – the combination of rich burgundy and red are so unexpected but work so well; and the overt sexiness of the unbuttoned shirt combined with the nerdiness of the flared high-water trouser and the school girl charm of the penny loafers; the anonymous tote bag that says I’m cool enough that I don’t have to carry a brand new Céline bag...


Sep 24

2015

Farm Food: Fig Jam

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I could probably fill up most of my September and October blog posts documenting my manic effort to make the most of the autumn fruit growing just outside my cottage and around the farm. But since I am still new to this and have varying levels of success, I will chose to focus on the highlights here. First and foremost, I think of September as FIG MONTH (even though you could equally argue that it’s apple, pear, blackberry or quince month). I eat figs just about every single day, mostly by choice, but there is a certain urgency to it as well. Whether still on the tree or just picked, figs are only really good for one day. You pick them a day early and the seeds are too crunchy, or a day late and the whole thing is mushy and likely half-eaten by a wasp. We just have one tree in our garden and I thank god for that because it supplies more figs than I can eat or preserve for a full six weeks each year. ..


Sep 22

2015

A New Beginning

Amanda_Blog_5Hi there! It’s been a while. The truth is, I thought I was done with blogging. Between the long term commitment of writing books and the instant gratification of Instagram, I felt it was extraneous to keep going with the in-between of maintaining a blog. I also felt I’d evolved beyond the look, feel and function of my starter blog, and while there was maybe something charming about the low tech aspect of it, I was left craving a more effective way to communicate with you.

But after a year of freedom from my blog commitment, I missed it. In retrospect I realized that my best ideas had actually come from the discipline of sitting down a few times a week to clarify and express what was going on in my creative mind. Blogging helped me maintain focus and track the progression of thoughts and inspirations. In fact, my next book, about what I’ve learned from living on a farm, was sold to Penguin based on the collection of my blog posts on that subject. I’m always preaching about the importance of gathering visuals and displaying them together so you can actually see who you are aesthetically, and it turns out that my blog is simply that – an inspiration board of ideas and experiences and images that capture my attention. ..


Sep 17

2015

Not too long ago I was sitting in the American Embassy in London of all places, and I noticed two women sitting in front of me wearing the chicest bonnets. Who on earth are these ladies?, I thought to myself. So I googled “white pleated bonnet,” and an entire world of Amish-inspired fashion popped up on my phone. Looking at all the Amish-style photos I’ve now collected, I realise that while I might have my tomboy farm style down pat for the most part – functional trousers (usually from J Crew), my Grenson boots, my old Balmain military pea coat, and an Isabel Marant plaid flannel shirt – I haven’t quite figured out my way to look feminine on the farm yet. I’d like to wear more dresses and skirts. I’d like to wear a blouse. I like how the clean black and white looks against such a decorative, romantic landscape. I like the mix of girl style and boy style.  The braids work too. Now, if only I could make my life as simple and focused as the Amish have done, then we’d really be talking.


Sep 15

2015

Life in England: My Writing Habits

People have asked me from time to time how I get my writing done. If you’re a writer yourself, you inevitably understand how hard that can be to do sometimes. In truth, it’s coming up to three years since I moved to England, and I am still refining my work habits. The hardest thing for me has been that I don’t write all the time. Because my books are always a mixture of written word and photographs, it tends to be that I write for a few weeks and then I research the illustrations for a while and then go back to writing. Then I finish the writing for the book and I am editing, making corrections, placing photographs in the text, etc. It’s not like writing a novel where I would be mostly writing consistently throughout the process. Interspersed with book writing are articles I occasionally write for magazines and my blog posts (not that I have done much of that in the last year!). So, I usually have some form of writing in my life but it’s kind of all over the place. ..