The reste journal
Our sense of smell is, for most people, the strongest of the five senses, and our noses are at their very best when it comes to triggering memories. We all remember by looking at old photographs, we reminisce by listening to music from our childhood or by eating something that we first tasted on a particularly good holiday many moons ago. Our sense of smell however, is miles ahead of our other senses when it comes to evoking memories. The smell of your dad’s cigars, the smell of baking coming from your grandma’s kitchen, remembering school sports day the moment you smell freshly cut grass, the perfume that your favourite aunt used to wear when she got dressed up to the nines on a Saturday night. Aroma plays a large part in our well-being. Aromatherapy and using smells for therapeutic benefit have been used for centuries because our olfactory nerves link directly to the brain. This is why it is important to treat our sense of smell with the respect that it deserves.
As well as triggering memories, smells can vastly affect our mood. Fragrances can make us feel relaxed, calm, happy, centred, energetic, nostalgic, creative, festive and even sleepy. Scents such as bergamot can cancel out disproportionate emotions and help us to feel content and stable. The delicate scent of Ylang Yang can boost the immune system and when used in skin care it can be anti aging. Frankincense can aid digestion and clary sage can help with anxiety and mood swings and lavender is infamous in its ability to make us relaxed and ready for a good night’s sleep. There are many other scents that can help with our physical and mental well-being, take a look.
Here at Reste, we fully appreciate the power of smell and all of our essential oils, soaps, candles, facial oils and incense sticks are completely natural so as not to remove any of the valuable properties with artificial fragrances. Aromatherapy can come in many different guises: use essential oils in a burner, pop a couple of drops into your bath water or add them to a carrier oil and use in massage. Sit down with a good book while some of our wax melts or scented candles enhance your relaxation.
Your sense of smell is a vital part of your well-being, treat it kindly.
If you’ve invested a lot of time and money into your plant family sometimes the idea of going away and leaving them to fend for themselves is too much to bear but most house plants will tolerate a few days’ absence without suffering. If you’re planning on going away for more than a week though you’ll need to get creative so your plants stay happy.
Here are our five top tips for keeping your plants alive while you go on holiday…
1. Ask a friend or neighbour
You wouldn’t go away and leave a pet, you might ask someone to look after them, so why not do the same for your plants? After all, you’ve probably become just as attached! If you only have a few plants you could take them to a friend's house or a neighbour, but if you have a lot then you may need to bribe them to help out with the promise of a holiday gift. Your plants will thank you.
2. Put damp newspaper on the soil
Water your plants thoroughly, being sure to water all around the stems so that the soil is damp to touch. Cacti and succulents can tolerate much longer periods of time without water so don’t be tempted to give them a thorough watering before you leave. After you’ve watered your plants, soak some sheets of newspaper in water and then lay them on the soil, covering the surface. This should prevent the water evaporating so quickly and will hold the moisture for longer.
3. Put your plants in the bath or sink
For plants that need a lot of moisture and humidity a nifty tip is to place towels or newspaper soaked in water in the bottom of the bath or sink and place your plants on top.They will enjoy their new damp surroundings.
4. Find the perfect position
If you leave your plants in a bright, hot place then they may not fare well, temperature and light can have a big affect on your green friends. If you’re going away in summer, move your plants to the cooler, shadier parts of your house. It’s important to learn the specific requirements of each of your plants though and if you’re going on a winTer holiday be sure the temperature doesn’t drop too low.
5. Group your plants together
Plants enjoy company, place them together without their leaves touching and out of direct sunlight. Place a bowl of water in the middle to ensure there’s enough humidity and it will encourage the plants to create their own microclimate for them to thrive.
Did you know nearly all cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti?
Over 25 different plant families contain succulents one of which being the Cactaceae family, better known as cactus.
Succulents are characterised by their distinctly waxy, spiky or hairy exterior, which helps to create a micro habitat around the plant, reducing airflow near their surface which keeps down water loss and creates a bit of shade.
These hardy little characters from the desert are beautiful and easy to look after if left to thrive in the right spot. As plant owners our aim is to try to replicate their natural environment to help them flourish. A south facing windowsill is ideal.
When it comes to watering it's best to leave your succulent or cactus till the soil is bone dry and then soak it under the tap till the water runs out the bottom of the pot as if to mimic the showers from the desert plains. Over the winter months even less water is needed and a few of your succulents lower leaves may start to shrivel and wilt but this is perfectly healthy.
In the Spring and towards the end of the Summer your plant will benefit from some fertiliser, during the Winter you wont need to bother as the succulent will become semi-dorment and won't actively grow.
Cacti and succulents are the plants of the moment, and it's not hard to see why, they're beautiful, affordable and easy to look after if you know how.
"Boro" is the Japanese word for a type of repairing and mending clothes and bedlinen by careful stitching and patching, which in truth follows much of the British wartime tradition of ‘make do and mend'. But the Japanese word for a similar technique has perhaps come to greater prominence as it does without the dour and joyless connotations, deriving from the more positive sense of ‘mottainai’ or ‘too good to waste’.To modern eyes Boro mending also has an esoteric cultural appeal through a sense of a Japanese attention to detail, expressed through precise technique in the meticulous handling of stitches, pattern and colour.
In the same way as the British mending tradition, it came to the fore during and immediately after WW2 out of pure necessity as a way to preserve and extend the life of clothing and other items, caused by the severe shortages of rationing and general poverty. The repair work often uses a method of stitched mending called "Sashiko" meaning "little stabs" or "little pierce", which has existed in Japan for many centuries.
In some especially sought after examples, a boro garment with multi-layered sashiko stitching might have been handed down over many generations, eventually resembling a mosaic of mending made decades apart.
In the west today, as we become ever more our throw-away society piles more pressure on the planet, through over-production and the despoliation caused by plastic waste, a new yearning has perhaps emerged for a return to humble and sincere forms of recycling through re-use, and to a renewed appreciation in the beauty of good mending.
Modern ideas such as "mindfulness" have also renewed interest in this type of stitch work and embroidery, as the necessary patience, application and contemplation can open up an interesting emotional or spiritual dimension to the process
Further adding to its modern appeal is the indigo colour of many items, a result of the dye often used to bring uniformity to the layers of patchwork. This eventually lead to an association with denim and jeans, as the international work-wear uniform arrived in the 1950's from American servicemen and women stationed there.
Perhaps Boro teaches us that time spent mending what we already own has a value equal to or over the money spent on new, and that the evidence of such quiet practicality can also be worn as an artform itself.
Ranking high among the lucky plants that have surfed the explosion in popularity of indoor plants is the Calathea, from the Marantaceae or arrowroot family. Combining vibrant leaf pattern and stunning colour combinations for maximum visual clout, they are among the most easily recognised houseplants, as well as being relatively easy to care for.
Originally a rainforest plant they are found in the tropical areas of the Caribbean, the Amazon and Africa. Loved for their richly ornamental leaves which are variegated in shades of green, white, and pink in stunning patterns that can vary widely between varieties. They can also display a beautiful velveteen leaf surface that looks surprisingly matt and powdery soft.
Popular in the UK since the 70's, they are a relative of the Maranta or Prayer Plant and will also respond to light levels, causing the foliage to rise upright and open in the morning, as if in prayer.
With a few impressive large leaves being supportable from a small plant, to the leaf size and bright colour stripes, the calathea is made for the trend for grouping small plants in small pots.
Deriving as they do from the gloomy floor of dense moist jungle, they can tolerate dappled or low light levels and appreciate steady damp air and temperatures between 15 to 23 degrees celsius. Calathea plants do not like the cold very much. Temperatures above and below that can cause damage to the plant, first evident in the curling of the leaves.
A calathea needs to be kept moist through the summer months and intermittently sprayed with water. Do not water it so much though that the plant ends up sitting in standing water. In winter a Calathea copes with a bit less water and if you need to repot, do so in spring.
Calathea do not need a lot of fertilizing, but they will flower and do well with standard houseplant fertilizer during spring, summer and early autumn. They especially need fertilization when they are growing and flowering
Like many plants, calatheas are very good at removing toxins from the air, caused by cleaning products, modern furnishings made of synthetic materials and so on.
Maison Bengal Ltd was set up in 2004 after its Director Sheenagh Day returned from living in Dhaka in Bangladesh.
After a number of years spent working in the aid industry, Sheenagh was constantly impressed by the traditional artisanal skills of weaving and basket making she came across in the poorest areas of Bangladesh. In a direct response, she decided to create a fair trade company on her return to the UK, thereby providing a market for some of these very marginalised communities. Using only locally grown natural materials such as jute and hogla (local sea-grass) she started to develop design ideas for a range of different baskets and bags and over a period of time, with close collaboration from her local fair trade partner organisations, built up a collection of different products for sale internationally.
"We work very closely with three fair trade organisations in the country, each one best placed to identify the most marginalised communities in their area and provide training in handicraft production. Maison Bengal works with each group separately to utilise their locally grown natural materials and develop their renowned traditional skills. This combined with our contemporary designs has allowed us to produce a comprehensive range of hand woven products. This process has taken many years of commitment and is a rewarding and constant work in progress."
Maison Bengal now works with over two thousand women throughout Bangladesh, each one in their home environment, enabling them to care for as well as financially support their families.
Shop the story
I was delighted to be invited by 91 Magazine to have a pop up shop at West Elm in November. I love the magazine and having the chance to sell our beautiful products in London's Tottenham Court Road was an opportunity not to be missed. I had a great time, met lots of other independents and really enjoyed talking to people about the things we sell and the makers who craft them. I will definitely be looking for more opportunities to take reste on the road again!
Products: Stumpie beeswax candle; Ojo De Dios blanket
Hygge has become the go to concept for marketing executives this winter. Perhaps with such global instability, it is no mystery why this Danish word has become foremost in people's minds. The irony is that hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. The idea that real wealth is not what we can accumulate but what we have to share.
So what is Hygge? "Hygge has been translated as everything from 'the art of creating intimacy' to 'cosiness of the soul' to 'taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things'," claims Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book Of Hygge. Pronounced Hue-gah, hygge is about being, not having.
Our philosophy at reste is to live simply, to buy less and buy better. We work alongside artisans and makers who contribute to a simpler life through design, function and sustainability. We believe that by filling your home with tools you cherish and allowing their stories to integrate into your every day, you can live a more hyggeligt life.
Louisa Thomsen Brits says in The Book of Hygge "If we consider and care for each object that we keep, we become producers of meaning rather than consumers of goods.
"When we use a simple, handmade item, there is an interplay that takes place between the object and our own emotions and state of mind. We encounter the possibility of simplicity in ourselves in what we hold in our hands. And we touch the life of the maker."
It is clear that we cannot buy our way to a more hyggeligt life but by choosing handmade and well crafted things we can definitely evoke Hygge.
As British designer, Ilse Crawford says, "Craft makes our homes more human."