Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Scents of the Season

Scents and aromas have the amazing ability to transport one back in time, recapture a favorite event or place, and soothe or stimulate.  The olfactory memory of something yummy baking in the oven, freshly laundered sheets, flowers you carried when you walked down the aisle, or baby powder can bring a smile to your face and warm your heart.  Nothing warms a home more than a beautifully scented candle during the cold winter months.  LUCKY HILL has a wonderful assortment of candles throughout the year, but an especially lovely selection for the holiday season.  

From the pages of Paddywax's Library Collection emerges the ultimate in Christmas literature:  Charles Dickens.  The quote on the candle reads, "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year".  Top notes of tangerine, clove, and juniper herald in the season.  Charles Dickens is available as a boxed candle ($25) or a 2-wick travel tin ($8).

Simpatico by K. Hall brings two holiday fragrances to their hobnail collection.  As with the year-round fragrances, Scotch Pine No. 26 and Reindeer No. 29, have an astounding 100-hour burn time and the option of re-purposing the hobnail glass vessel after the candle has finished surrounding you in scent.

Scotch Pine No. 26 is a warm, woodsy fragrance reminiscent of crisp winter nights.  The true pine scent is known for its clarifying and uplifting properties. ($29)

Reindeer No. 29 combines fall and holiday as red currants and cranberries collide with cedar wood, Frasier fir, and embers.  It's an exhilarating and cozy fragrance contained in a stunning cranberry glass hobnail. ($29)

And not to sound like a broken record.....but I can't help but once again utter that lovely name, Clive.  If you've read the post about 2550˚ candles entitled,  Hand-Poured Personality, you'll recall my desire to spend the winter months with Clive ($28.50).  No, not Clive Owen, but rather the candle that embraces you with fragrant tobacco leaves blended with rich black tea, followed with bright green notes of bergamot and earthy vetiver.  Sigh.  Simply brilliant.....and always the gentleman.  Where's the mistletoe?


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Holiday Small Works Show

Dice Head morning  6 x 6  oil on panel

Dan Graziano's 2012 Holiday Small Works show now hangs in the gallery area of LUCKY HILL.   He is pleased and I always .... incredibly proud of him.  The new show is comprised of 21 paintings that focus on Castine and its environs.  As this is a small works show, all the pieces range in size from 6" x 6" to 6" x 8".  

off neck  5 x 7  oil on panel

Many customers and friends comment on how "productive" Dan is where his art is concerned.  I am quick to point out he is infinitely dedicated, incredibly disciplined, and takes his art and the creative process very seriously.  He is in his studio every morning by 9:00, if not earlier, and works until at least 5:00.  Often those hours extend to weekends as well.  As a working artist, he believes in working as opposed to waiting for the "stroke of genius" or bout of artistic inspiration. 

long shadows  5 x 7  oil on panel

I read Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers when it was first published.  Dan read it a couple of years ago and we were fascinated by the 10,000-hour rule.  Last year Dan participated in the Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational and while at the reception, fellow artist and friend, Daniel Aldana, mentioned the 10,000-hour rule.  It elicited a lengthy and lively conversation.  I know there are a lot of people who say Gladwell comes up with a concept or theory and then finds data to support it.  Be that as it may, most people who are regarded as "geniuses" in their field will be the first to chalk their success up to hard work as opposed to innate gifts.  What was the old quote by Einstein?  Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration?  But back to Gladwell and the 10,000-hour rule.  In a nutshell, after analyzing studies that focus on excellence and expertise, researchers have come to the conclusion that 10,000 hours is the amount of time one needs to invest in a field to achieve a level of excellence.  You can do the math, but based on a 40-hour work week that equates to just under five years.  If you ratchet your workload up to a 48-hour work week you can accomplish it in four years.  When I ask Dan how he's doing, he tells me he's chipping away at his 10,000.  Kudos to him.

twin peaks  6 x 6   oil on panel

Small works are unique creatures.  Think about it.  A painting in a 6" x 6" sqaure.  Measure it out on a piece of paper.  How much can you convey in that amount of space?  There is something to the concept of not only what you do paint, but more importantly what you don't paint.  Dan and I often refer to this as "the economy of the stroke".  A thin line or a tiny dab of paint can convey far more when handled effectively than a multitude of strokes.  This collection of tiny jewels highlights Dan's fascination with light and shadow and the drama and graphic abstraction they create when overlaid on architecture, objects, and the landscape. 

Images of all of the paintings in the show as well as others can be seen at or click here

The Adams School  5 x 7  oil on panel

water's edge  6 x 6  oil on panel

take-out  6 x 6  oil on panel
house at the junction  6 x 8  oil on panel
early one morning  5 x 7  oil on panel

Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

LUCKY HILL is twinkling with little white lights and garland adorns the banister and armoire.  While I'd like to say the little elves came in one night and did all the work, unless the elves were named Dan and Kristin that wasn't the case.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE decorating for Christmas.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Christmas.  I love the holiday so much Dan and I had a December wedding.

The interior was decorated just prior to Thanksgiving.  I've always been a stickler about not decorating for Christmas too's always so disturbing to hear Christmas carols playing in shops before the kiddies have even been around for Halloween.  We have a rule in our carols until at least the day after Thanksgiving.

For the last few days, I've been wiring greens into garlands, swags, and onto the wreath frame for the front door.  This year they will be adorned with pomegranates, apples, petite pine cones, pods, dried hydrangea blossoms, berries, and cranberries.  Two small Christmas trees with white lights now grace the antique urns that flank the front door.

Last night after everything was in place outside, I helped our dear friend Michele carry packages out to her car.  As we stood chatting and laughing, it started to snow. doesn't get more perfect than that!!!

Here's a glimpse at what's in store for the holiday at LUCKY HILL

Maileg mice are nestled in their matchboxes for a long winter's nap while the juniper, clove, and clementine aroma of Paddywax's Charles Dickens candle wafts through the shop.

It wouldn't be Christmas at LUCKY HILL without a GurglePot or two....who would have thought they would be hanging on the tree?  GurglePot has created ornaments in Bright Red, Cobalt, and Kiwi to keep you smiling.

Maileg pixies frolic on the top of one of the garden half rounds......

and mice and a pig on the other

Sydney Hale Co. candles celebrate the season amid foraged berries and remind us that the holiday is about giving back as they donate 10% of their profits to animal shelters.

I grew up with advent calendars, but nothing as magnificent as this one from Maileg.

A rainbow of GurglePots are flanked by Oh, Little Rabbit organic cotton flour sack Christmas tea towels.  I especially love the one of the vintage Woodie with the Christmas tree on top.

The armoire is filled with bamboo nighties and PJs from Yala in silhouettes and colors perfect for Christmas Eve.   

Gift baskets laden with Big Paw olive oil and Mary Judge Designs dipping dishes are ready for holiday giving.

Our first holiday window with boxwood outside and glass icicles suspended from the famous white birch branch.

And little elf who puts up with a lot of holiday decorating nonsense from me.  Doesn't his look say it all?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Small Business Saturday

I am proud to be a small business owner.  No matter how many times I see the Small Business Saturday commercial by American Express I still get butterflies in my stomach and say to myself, "that's me!"   Our business truly is the "old-fashioned" idea of a small business...Dan's art studio is in the back room, we live upstairs, and the shop and gallery are in the front of the house.  And if that wasn't perfect enough, we're located on Main Street.

I am immensely fortunate to pursue this dream with Dan.  He's not only my husband and life partner, he's my business partner.  We are invested in this....together.  He believes in my retail vision and I believe in his art.  While this isn't the easiest of career choices, there's something comforting in being in it together.  There are long days, endless conversations about strategy and buying, and great uncertainty.  But with that comes the thrill of creating something new and the hope of nurturing the venture into a thriving business.

My first foray into retail was over a decade ago.  Interestingly, if you ask me what I remember about my years owning and operating Grandiflora my memories don't have anything to do with actual business transactions, but rather customer interactions.  My greatest compliment as a shop owner came one day when a woman walked into the shop and immediately announced, somewhat apologetically, she wasn't there to buy anything, but rather was having a bad day and needed to go someplace that would make her happy.  My little shop filled with flowers, lovely scents, and fluffy duvets was her happy place. 

It's pretty safe to say we understand the likelihood of getting rich as small business owners is slim to none, but I'm at an age where as long as Dan and I have our health, a roof over our head, and get to do what we love everyday our "wealth" is greater than anything that can be calculated in currency, stocks, or gold.  Every morning when I flip the sign from "closed" to "open", unlock the door, and put out our "open" flag I realize how lucky I am to see my vision come to life.

We're not just a small business located in your community, we're part of your community.  Small businesses are the heart and soul of communities.  They are the historic foundation of our country and a vital part of the American dream.  And while I hope you'll head out to the small businesses in your community today....Small Business thank them for adding vibrancy and life to your Main Street, I also hope you'll remember them on all the other Saturdays.  And what about all those days you don't need anything?  A wave as you walk by or a quick "hello" works too.

I would like to thank our friends and customers who have welcomed us so warmly to our new home and supported our small business, LUCKY HILL.  You know who you are!  You're the friends who stop by with your Goldens to say "hi", the "white tornado" who taught me to knit so I don't go crazy in the dead of winter, the sweet potato who comes in to check and make sure we're okay and joins me in the "chop chop" chorus directed at Dan, the doctor who brings in the article on the correlation between chocolate consumption and cognitive brain function as he buys three chocolate bars, my banker who is my BFF, fellow retailers and merchants who understand this crazy existence, and everyone who comes in to share a laugh ("pokin' the bear") and a hug.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  We might be a small business, but we have a big heart. 

And now I get to do what I love the shop for the day.

Love and Big Hugs,

Friday, November 9, 2012

ten under ten

Our "ten under ten" list is just that, ten great products under $10.  This offering makes for sweet stocking stuffers, lovely little gifts for co-workers, and perfect presents for Secret Santa exchanges.

From Wooster & Prince, a collection both lovely and useful:
1.  Emery Board 3-Pack ($5.50)  Lovely artwork meets everyday function in these emery board sets.  Packaged in a protective vinyl sleeve with flap closure, the pack of three can be taken anywhere for a quick manicure.  Available in seven print collections.
2.  Travel Tweezers ($5.50)  These precision slanted-edge tweezers are printed on both sides.  Each pair comes packaged for transport in a reusable vinyl pouch with flap closure.  Available in five print options.
3.  Listpads ($6.50)  These lined listpads make the perfect shopping companion  Each shrink-wrapped pad has 60 tear-off sheets on a magnetic backer card.  Available in four print options.

From Rifle Paper Co.:
4.  Pocket Notebooks ($10.00)  This set of two pocket notebooks is the perfect size to pop into a purse.  One notebook is adorned with a lovely floral print, the other a simple cream on sage pattern.  Each notebook is 4.25 x 5.5 inches and has blank interior pages and a saddle-stitched spine.

From Saipua:
These soaps are carefully crafted in small batches using food-grade vegetable oils, butters, herbs, and extracts.  Each bar is handcut, air dried, and cured in the Saipua workshop.  The family owned business, based in the Hudson Valley, continues to produce their soaps in small batches to assure quality and sustainability. 
5.  Tea Soap Collection ($9.00)  Available in Chai, Jasmine, and Green Tea fragrances
6.  Essential Oil Soap Collection ($10.00)  Available in Coffee Mint, Cedarwood, Basil, Lavender Oatmeal, Mango Butter, Saltwater, and Gardener's Soaps.  For a limited time, the holiday fragrances of Winter Citrus and Balsam are also in stock.

From Kala Corporation:
7.  The Paris Bouquet Floral Collection Soaps ($4.00-$6.00)  Since the turn of the 19th century, shea butter soaps have been used to soften the skin.  This collection of exquisite French soaps are available in five fragrances each captured in an antique design.  Top notes include rose, lilac, daisy, lily-of-the-valley, and multi-floral.

From Paddywax:
8.  The Library Collection Travel Candle ($8.00)  Celebrate your favorite writers with this 2-wick travel tin candle.  For all the bibliophiles in our lives, each fragrance is formulated to be evocative of the writer whose name graces the label.  Available in Edgar Allen Poe (Cardamom, Absinthe, and Sandalwood), Henry Thoreau (Cedar, Moss, and Juniper), Walt Whitman (Grass, Thyme, and Red Clover), Oscar Wilde (Cedarwood, Thyme, and Basil), and the holiday offering of Charles Dickens (Tangerine, Juniper, and Clove)

And to ensure lips will be in tip top shape for any mistletoe encounters.....
From Worker B:
9.  Lip Balm ($5.00)  Working with local, Minneapolis-based beekeepers with pesticide-free hives, this small company uses only organic products and no fragrances or added color in any of their products.  This lip balm contains beeswax, organic olive oil, organic almond oil, organic avocado oil, raw honey, and propolis tincture.
From GAL Collection from Spain:
10.  Lip Balm ($6.50)  Fashioned in Art Nouveau tins, these balms capture the rich milieu of life in Europe. Each one offers an ambrosial fragrance and a natural, moisturizing shine that lasts.  Available in limited quanities of Red Currant, Orange, and Strawberry.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Keep Calm and Cozy On

The weather here in Castine has turned nippy and the Maine Fall foliage tracker is showing color in the Northern regions.  Monday we received yet another package of smile-inducing product.  This shipment came to us all the way from the Lake District of England.

Katie Mawson established her business in 1991 after graduating from Camberwell Art School with a degree in textile design.  She started with hand knitted sweaters (jumpers in England) and went on to create a children's wear collection.  Over time, her work has evolved to her current line of felted wool gloves, hats, scarves, and home accessories  Katie's husband, Chris, joined the business in 2000 and everything is made by them with the help of their knitters, Kerry and Norman.  Katie carefully finishes every piece, felting them for extra softness, hand stitching, and labeling them as genuinely made in England. 

Wide stripes, narrow stripes, and tipped solids in fun colors.  Thanks to Katie and her team we can happily say, bring on the cold weather.....and smiles!

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Little Piece of the Big Easy

We have New Orleans to thank for more fabulous things than I can even begin to count....gumbo, Mardi Gras, Po' Boys, the Sazerac, and a vibe that can never be recreated anywhere else.  One of the other amazing products of the Big Easy is Alexa Pulitzer.  From the first time I set eyes on her stunning line of notes and list pads I was smitten.  Lucky Hill is now thrilled to announce it is a purveyor of Ms. Pulitzer's magic!
Finding a new line is exciting.  Ordering a new line is like a kid in a candy store.  Opening the boxes when the new line arrives in the shop is nothing short of Christmas morning!  Sometimes, however, it's more like getting the shiny bike on Christmas morning as opposed to the flannel nightgown.  Yesterday was a shiny bike day here at Lucky Hill.  You always know you have a winning line when you are selling to customers straight out of the shipping box.  A King Kitty notecard set went straight out the door with our dear customer, Jody.
Our antique wire garden half rounds are now laden with notecards, long pads, sketchbooks, and mousepads adorned with the most whimsical of creatures.  All are fabulous, but the mousepads are simply ingenious.   The actual pad is comprised of fifty sheets of paper sporting either the Royal Tiger, Royal Elephant, or Royal Owl.  While working on the computer, jot notes, numbers, or doodles and when that sheet has served its it goes to reveal a sparkling new one. 
Yes...I'm gushing.  My big quandary?  Which pattern will become my signature stationery?  It looks like the Royal Goldfish may be swimming away with the title.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Hand-Poured Personality

As I previously mentioned, we've been on a mission to seek out products that celebrate our male clientele.  Our newest candle line, 2550˚, speaks to the personal habits and tastes of men.  However, these are definitely NOT the "man candles" that smell like beer, pork rinds, locker rooms, and other things I refuse to mention. 

After tiring of heavy and uninspired men's home fragrance choices, Jason Linscott worked to create a line of products with more "personality".  The resulting line is comprised of four fragrances that are richer in character, deeply layered, and infused with scent aspects that more closely capture a very definite personality profile.

Joe  Whiskey & rocks, a smoldering bonfire & a well-worn leather jacket
Notes of whiskey, woodsmoke, and leather overlap to create a warm, rich scent with a kick.  Oakmoss and cedarwood help to round out this scrapper.

Clive  Black tea, a hand-rolled cigarette & a mossy windowsill
Fragrant tobacco leaves blended with rich black tea, followed with bright green notes of bergamot and earthy vetiver- a perfectly balanced gent.

Luc  Green absinthe, a cobblestone street & a dark velvet topcoat
Mysterious and deep, notes of absinthe, bitter almond, and oakmoss blend together for a multilayered experience.  Rich dark chocolate, amber and flig slip in for added dimension.

Kurt  A saltwater breeze, sun-bleached driftwood & a tropical beach
Smoky sandalwood and briny kelp interplay with notes of banana and coral flower.  Geranium and vetiver jump in- reminiscent of afternoons in the surf.  

The candles are prepared using an all-natural, clean-burning soy wax base enhanced with botanical and fragrance oils.  Each candle is hand-blended and hand-poured in limited production runs to ensure consistency and quality.  The packaging is fully recyclable and the glass containers and hand-roughed lids are intended for reuse as cocktail glasses or catch-alls.  All 2550˚ candles are produced and packaged in Portland, Oregon.

So which one do I like?  Let's just say I was quick to inform Dan I will be spending the long, cold Maine winter with Clive.  I don't think he minds....after all, it's just a candle....not Clive Owen.