Thursday, April 22, 2010

Household Saints

It was a happy day yesterday. At approximately 2pm, the postman rang my doorbell and delivered my Ancient Industries order.
I've been wanting to order some items from this website for the longest time but forced myself to wait until my samplers were all completed so I could reward myself with a little something.

Ancient Industries is run by blogger/artist extraordinaire Megan Wilson, who has painstakingly culled together a collection of household goods from the British Isles, Europe and America that meet her strict standards of classic form and function. (I've posted about Megan before. If you need a refresher, click HERE.)

I tore open the beautifully wrapped packages with such fervor that I nearly forgot to take a photograph of them for posterity. Fortunately, when my hands closed in on the last box, I remembered. Darling, isn't it?

Inside, treasures awaited. Well, if you consider a bottle brush from Germany or a linen towel made from a grainsack to be treasures, which I certainly do. I haven't been so excited since the time I found a Dries Van Noten coat on sale at Jeffrey.
(From top left: Hunslet jug, bottle cleaner, dish washing brush,
wooden scoops, all resting on rustic linen towel)

It wasn't just the saintly, iconic beauty of those items that made me breathless to own them, it was the product descriptions.

Take, for example, the dish washing brush:

Very "Cold Comfort Farm" chic, this able brush would have been discarded by Flora Poste, which would have been her loss.

Have you read "Cold Comfort Farm" by Stella Gibbons? No? Well, then you'd best be ordering it because it's one of the funniest books ever.
If I had to describe it, I'd say, "Imagine Edina Monsoon from "Ab Fab" caught in a Christopher Guest remake of 'Straw Dogs.'"

But don't take it from me.

In the words of the inestimable Stuck-In-A-Book:

Flora Poste, the chic London 'heroine', finds herself orphaned and decides to live with a relative. She tries several, including the Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm, albeit reluctantly: "because highly sexed young men living on farms are always called Seth or Reuben, and it would be such a nuisance. And my cousin's name is Judith. That in itself is most ominous. Her husband is almost certain to be called Amos; and if he is, it will be a typical farm, and you know what they are like." She breezes into Cold Comfort Farm, and encounters every type of absurd, farcical and outlandish character imaginable.

Seriously. You will love.

And now back to my purchases. The tie for piéce de résistance was between the Cote Bastide rustic linen towel (pictured above) and the Ian Mankin red oven mitts, pictured below:
Of course they found an instant home draped on my Aga. Woven in Lancashire, they are made of heavy cotton and faced with towelling for extra thickness.

I gazed at them adoringly. All was right with the world.

And then it all went to pot.

My OCD took over and I became nervous that the male contingent in my house would drip coffee on them or touch them with greasy pizza hands or cause them in some way to become non-immaculate and so...

...I took them off the Aga...

...and hid them in the back of my linen drawer. My rationale was that if they were going to get sullied, they were going to get sullied by me so there would be no one to blame but myself.

I know, I'm absolutely terrible. I'm a recovering purist who's clearly having a relapse and needs to reread her own advice about the tragedy of perfection. But just let me live with the oven mitts being perfect for two days. And then I promise I'll return them to their perilous and risky life on the stove, come what may.


Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I'm in love with those little scoops!

Ah yes, Cold Comfort Farm. "I saw something nasty in the woodshed". Love it.

Unknown said...

Part of the charm of life's household saints, are the "besmirches" - the "blemishes" that make us love them all the more. Like my Simon P. lovely wooden salad bowl that my husband set too close to the flame, and a blacken, charred spot remains. The chip on the patio from lofting logs to make an orderly stack or the scratches on the door from the one who provides unconditional love without a word, only a bark. Enjoy all those blemishes, that make us realize money cannot buy - only the ravages of time that merely mark time and make one feel more ancient.

Jessica Thor-Miller said...

I absolutely adore Ancient Industries. I purchased a Brown Betty tea pot and cozy from Megan for my boyfriend's mother at Christmas (HUGE HIT). I've since enjoyed several other items, including the same Hunslet jug!

I need to check in with her more often as I've just noticed several items I'd like to acquire!


Anonymous said...

lovely post! and lovely items, reminds me of the labourandwait aesthetic. my mean sister yells at and berates her sweet husband for breaking a cup. my beautiful husband? I say break, scratch, misplace away!!! i cherish him too much to care about a saucer or mitt and it's my honor and duty to put him before my things. i do love my things - but...


Acanthus and Acorn said...

Hmmm...why do I think my love of your blog is going to get very expensive???

This is the sort of gift I would be wishing for under the Christmas tree. All of it!!!

I know a thing or two about the recovering perfectionist! But, now that you know where more of all these items can found, use them! Live beautifully everyday is my motto. Your Aga will thank you too!!!

teaorwine said...

Loved Cold Comfort Farm! The movie with Kate Beckinsale is worth a gander as well.

mary said...

So it's not just me! I bought a lovely new ovenglove some time ago (not as lovely as yours though) and kept thinking, oh no, I can't use it for that pan or that casserole ... I can't have greasy marks on it ... maybe I'll just use it for cake-tins? I know, it's ridiculously precious ... what's an ovenglove for! (Actually, at the moment it's lying pristine on the kitchen windowsill.)
Maybe we should both jump in together ...

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Cold Comfort Farm really got me through a rough time spent in Naples, Italy. I'll never forget spending a day moping in my hotel (admittedly a charming one) and howling with laughter over this book! Perked me right up, laughter IS the best medicine.
Love your goodies! I had some beautiful gifted tea towels from Africa that I was afraid to use and sat in a drawer until one day when EVERY towel was in the hamper.....I got over the fear and now enjoy them daily! Give it some time and take them out; they just have their sealegs yet.

L said...

Your post reminded me that once upon a time, as a young, single woman, I had a Cold Comfort Farm salt & pepper shaker set, bestowed upon me by my friend Hugo. (He ran a theater and received all sorts of darling Cold Comfort promotional doo-dads.) His birthday is coming up and I think I'll order him a pair of the Ancient Industry mugs as a nod to his gift to me once.

Sneaky Magpie said...

Fantastic purchases, do you know Labour&Wait in London? Love their stuff so much, I never leave empty handed.
Thank you for the book recommendation, I will definitely reach for it.

As for the tea towels, I was given this fantastic screen printed tea towel and wouldn't use it for years, then I ran out of clean ones, used it and of course it's not the same anymore! But as it's meant to be practical item I should not sulk.

Laura said...

I've always loved your Aga from afar, but now that I finally got a glimpse from up close I am positively smitten! Gorgeous treasures, all of them. I daresay you must make a trip to John Derian the next time you are in New York. You would positively swoon over their collection of dust brushes (German mostly, I think).

Susan's Snippets said...

Lisa -

You will forego much linen "bliss" without them front and center, as you hide them away for those two long, long days.

living my life in an imperfect haze

L.P. said...

I read the Ancient Industries blog every day, I adore her choices. I have been lusting that lovely Hunslet jug from afar for several months now. And Cold Comfort Farm? Hilarious, and both movie versions (from the 50s with Alistair Sim as Amos and the newer Kate Beckinsale version) are enjoyable, too.

Megan Taylor said...

I've had "Cold Comfort Farm" on my book shelf for years and never read it! Now it seems about time :) Thanks for the recommendation!

katiedid said...

Thank you Lisa! I can always count on you to let me know about some cool newness!I am heading over to Megan's blog right now. And I cannot beleive I have not read Cold Comfort Farm! I will be picking up a copy today. I am due for a new book.

I had to laugh when you talked about hiding your beautiful new oven mitt. I wish I had hidden my patio furniture. I spent about an hour crying over the chewed up arms yesterday. I will be reading your advice about the tragedy of perfection while I lick my wounds.

Hannah Stoneham said...

That bottle cleaner looks perfect... thank you for bringing this inventive (or rather resourceful and re-discoverative) business to my attention - I am getting straight there!

Bon weekend


Terra said...

I can see why you are so thrilled with your treasures. I hope you take the item out from hiding in the linen closet and dare to use it! It was made to be used :)
Oh, and I love tips on comedic books so thank you.

Karena said...

Lisa I am so thrilled to hear about Ancient Industries. A very special little collection you received!!

Art by Karena

DM said...

Cold Comfort Farm sounds AMAZING! I'm reading as much Beverley now as I can, thanks to you. Sure to be another love of mine.

And not only are the oven mitts gorge but so is that stove and the white subway tile backsplash! Oh to be you someday.... :)

Kate F. said...

Oh god, I finally read Cold Comfort Farm last year on a trip home to Oregon, and I spent the entire flight cackling to myself. I need to buy my own copy; I hated to return it to the library. SO terrific.

pve design said...

I apologize, I left you a comment under my daughters sign in, I failed to realize until I hit the button.
Evidence that we all have household saints leaving footprints and fingerprints.

Loretta a/k/a Mrs. Pom said...

Dare I confess that I have a set of beautiful yellow and green linen towels with coordinating oven mitts that I secrete in the back of the dishtowel drawer for use on a ...special occasion?

We can't be blamed: I have a two gorgeous periwinkle blue linen towels that were last seen scrubbing out a barbecue pan that was left on the grill table for two weeks in the rain....

Reggie Darling said...

"I saw something nasty in the woodshed!" is one of our favorite lines at Darlington House. Usually returned with "I'm sure you did, baby, but did it get a load of you?"

Lovely post, m'dear.

I have just added you, and also Ancient Industries, to my blogroll. Have been a follower for some time, now an avowed and outspoken admirer...

24 Corners said...

Lisa...what a lovely gift to your self! You deserve all of them and you very much deserve the using of them all!
Isn't domestic paraphernalia just the best!?!
Off to ancient Industries....
xo Jessica~

Angie Muresan said...

I do not blame you one bit. I do the same thing.

You know, I just read Cold Comfort Farm last summer. I have no idea why not sooner as it has been sitting in my library for a long time. I loved it!

Unknown said...

One of the funniest book I have read last year and the movie is so fun too I have to say! Different but great! Especially if you have read the book before! (This is a nod to Pamela!)
And the cure to your perfection obsession, maybe you want to collect a small stack....of each!
When I go to Germany I always bring back such niceties! Should I get you something??? I mean it!Markets are full of bottle brushes, old fashioned gadgets and the likes.


Skelton said...

What an Inspiring Purchase! it has me want to reduce my life to simplicity, and reduce my kitchen with all its humming KitchenAid products to these beau classics.

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