Written by Daen Palma Huse
Photography and Production DPH
The obvious thing to do in January and February, when the new year has begun but the weather is cold and all shiny Christmas decorations are gone, is to curl up at home after work and shut out the cold weather. In light of this I have collected five suggestions that will make this time more enjoyable; savouring time spent away from computer screens. Most of these things will not break the bank (let’s be fair, we all like to save up for summer holidays) and are sure to delight all the senses.
Kaweko Fountain Pens
My two constant and loyal companions are this silver aluminium Kaweco AL Sport and dark red Kaweco Sport fountain pens. We all started learning how to write in school with fountain pens – some memories might have been stained by the blue ink on our fingers – and later we exchanged our fountain pen for a seemingly so practical ballpoint. Cheaply produced, the ball pen serves the purpose of scribbling shopping lists, a “back soon” note on a post-it, or a postcard on a beach holiday.
However, a couple of years back I was looking for a writing instrument worthy of daily usage that would not only look nice, but also feel comfortable when writing. I found Kaweko with its wide range of traditionally produced fountain pens from Germany, a company that started out in 1883, and its equally wide range of nibs. The nibs are particularly important, made of different materials and in different shapes to accommodate different writing styles and different people’s needs. Both the aluminium Kaweco AL Sport (at about £50) and Kaweco Sport (around £20) are very light and small when closed –heavier fountain pens made of brass are available as well for example – all little quality instruments that do what they are supposed to do and that have earned a lot of compliments during work meetings and press events.
It is a fact that we write less by hand and I think we should celebrate the art of writing by hand with a beautiful and practical fountain pen.
I carry my Kaweco’s side by side with my notepad, or the thread bound sketchbook by the Swedish company SOT made of paper produced in Småland by a mill that has produced paper since 1693, shown in the picture above. The sketchbook actually has fingerprints inside which give it an artistic look and immediately make me want to fill the pages with my own scribbles and sketches.
Mount Gay XO
When I first learned about Mount Gay Rum several years ago I mostly knew rum as the alcoholic liquid that I would soften raisins in for Christmas baking or to refine my Glögg – the Scandinavian mulled wine my Danish friends brew every year. An obvious sin to limit rum to the former, nonetheless very tasty, element of baking: when I met brand ambassador Miguel Smith in person and had the first sip of a rum cocktail that contained Mount Gay rum I was convinced in a short period of time. Master Blender Allen Smith has worked for Mount Gay and its distillery in Barbados for a very long time, refining the rum to exquisite blends. At about £35 the XO is a perfectly rounded rum. It is very smooth, naturally sweet, full of molasses and toffee, some oak aromas that stem from the bourbon barrel this is aged in. The balance between sweet and dry makes this XO the perfect addition to a cocktail, yet it can also be enjoyed much like a glass of scotch on its own.
Besides the XO Mount Gay offers the Black Barrel and other blends, with the 1703 – named after the year that Mount Gay started distilling – being my absolute favourite rum to be enjoyed just on its own.
Black – Architecture in Monochrome
Speaking to our sense of touch as well as giving wonderful visual impulses, Phaidon books are always a pleasure to take a look at. Whether a flip through the pages, looking at images, or an in-depth read of one of the Phaidon editor’s contributions to their unique publications, books are – and should be – an integral part of all our living spaces. I find that books give a house or flat a soul, just as its inhabitants. Books speak, they hold knowledge and they have lives, being passed from one reader to another, in the family or between friends, or even just lying on the table and catching the eye of a house guest.
I chose Black – Architecture in Monochrome as part of this collection of February essentials because it is more than a book about houses – it is about architectural masterpieces by some of the most ingenious architects of our time and it invites for a philosophical exploration of “black” and of how we perceive colour, material, space. Thinking about black means thinking about the absence of colour, how true black does not reflect light and how different black materials and surfaces work their way into our minds by the play of light upon these materials. The artist Robert Motherwell (1915-1991) is quoted saying “When I use black, I don’t use it the way most people think of it, as the ultimate tone of darkness, but as much a colour as white or vermilion, or lemon yellow or purple, despite the fact that black is no colour, nonbeing, if you like.”
Intersected with thought-provoking quotes, this book sparks imagination and takes us to many different places around the globe, all from the comfort of our very own living room – or wherever you decide to open this little black universe.
Lalique Or Intemporel 1888
I am convinced most people are sure to find an all-time-favourite amongst the exquisite range of Lalique’s Noir Premier collection. My personal favourite is Fruits du Mouvement 1977 but recently I have also discovered Or Intemporel 1888, which carries the year of the birth of the house of Lalique in its name.
Both flacons are inspired by original René Lalique designs, with the sides inspired by insect wings and the famous art deco design that the house of Lalique earned its great reputation with.
In a beautiful concoction, this perfume combines bergamot, cardamom, tobacco, coffee, vanilla and patchouli in a spicy fragrance that is yet well balanced and opulent, but not overpowering. The lacquer box that this flacon comes in is beautifully crafted and the wood feels like silk every time when opened – an item of luxury this perfume is priced at around £250. Before developing a taste for niche and luxury perfumes, I would have choked at the price tag to this beautiful perfume, but several years of experience have taught me that real quality perfumes come at a slightly higher price. The exquisite ingredients that are used make the difference between an average perfume and a perfume such as Or Intemporel, softly developing its notes on your skin and not loosing its touch even after an evening out for dinner, when relaxing at home and suddenly being subtly reminded by a soft note that we opened the lacquer box with Or Intemporel inside at the beginning of the night…
Sweet Virtues – Chocolate Truffles
Last but not least, these vegan, gluten-free chocolate truffles are the perfect “mood lifter” for cold days. Unlike most chocolates that tempt us to binge and feel terrible after, these truffles are packed with natural organic ingredients, handmade in London.
Going one step further, the creators of Sweet Virtues tell us that it is good to eat these chocolates with “superfoods” such as Chia Seeds boosting our well-being.
We tried three varieties – Chia Seeds & Lime, Maqui Berry and Baobab & Vanilla. The differences are subtle with a hint of lime in the Chia Seeds & Lime truffles and a slight crunch, the Maqui Berry truffles are not sweet but carry the natural flavor of berries inside, and the Baobab & Vanilla truffles are smooth and blend perfectly with the cacao. All of these truffles have more or less the same consistency, are not buttery soft but a bit harder, which in my mind makes them even more beautiful to chew and melt in my mouth. Indulging in these tuffles truly feels like treating ourselves, without having to worry about preservatives and additives.
I hope you enjoyed this little insight into my pleasures of taste, touch, scent and sight – I love to take some time out by myself and for myself from time to time, finding pleasure in little things and taking the time to stimulate different senses with different sensations. To me, this is part of the idea of relaxing, to concentrate consciously on different sensations and to take our minds on little journeys!