Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide from The French Hen, Part One

Here we are! It's holiday time and we are full of ideas for your gift list. As you know, we comb the aisles at the NYNOW giftshow and the floors and floors of America's Mart in Atlanta looking for the most fabulous decorations and gifts... ALL FOR YOU! We do this several times a year and it's always a thrill to see what we selected last January come together- nearly a full year later. This post is Part One of our "gift guide".    Here goes:

Sugarfina gummies....yes. please.
Sugarfina...boutique candy for grownups. This stuff is the bomb....the concept, the packaging, it's chic, it's hip. If you have a girlfriend that wants to be on trend  pick up a cube of Sugarfina's Bubbly Bears...$20. I almost forgot the most important factoid: they are infused with Dom Perignon Champagne. insert mic drop here.
Simon Pearce Vermont Evergreen Trees

Simon Pearce Vermont Evergreen trees...elegant in their beauty and simplicity. I want a full forest of these for my kitchen windowsill. Did you hear that Rob? They are available in several sizes, some with pure silver infused in the glass, some crystal clear and some with bubbles. These are special. You are special. You should have these, and give these... to your special peeps.

Swell Water bottles, let's keep our plastic out of the oceans. 
S'well bottles are a must for everyone that exercises, commutes, studies or just breathes. Super insulated double stainless steel walls keep cold drinks cold for 24 hours and your hot beverages hot for 12 hours. Great for gents and ladies alike. Don't give a knock off, nobody likes a knock off.

TGK employees are transitioning or have transitioned out of homelessness
Give a gift that gives and gives. The Giving Keys are one of those items that have a beautiful backstory. Truly one of my favorite things to wear and to gift to my friends. I am always searching for lines that "do good" and are beautiful. The French Hen is proud to offer The Giving Keys. I have noticed that the 20-40 year old artsy-type of girl really loves these. Do you have one of those on your list? My key says "create" and yes, I'm way past the 20-40 age group, but I am a little artsy.

Part 2 of The Holiday Gift Guide will be along soon. stay tuned.

Friday, October 14, 2016

pay it forward

Something happened in the shop on Wednesday that I want to share. A very chic lady, who has been a customer for years, was in to see the store in our Chester location before meeting a friend for lunch at the River Tavern. Also in the store, a young lady assembling a gift for a girlfriend battling breast cancer. The two customers began chatting and having fun. The younger customer explained that she was an art teacher off from work for the jewish holiday... When the lady on her way to lunch checked out, she left a contribution for the gift for the art teacher's friend- with her finger to her lips in a "shhh" signal. Needless to say the art teacher was delighted and with glistening eyes said she was inspired to pay it forward. Me too.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Home and time to get cozy

The summer months had my husband and I on the move, we were in the garden, on the deck, on the boat, at the beach, eating out-basically every night and just never home. While the shorter days bum me out, I don't entirely object to the arrival of fall and the way it seems to call me home. And now that I am here, I see that this place needs a little love and attention. After a deep clean and a call to the window washers I wanted to find ways to make our house feel cozy for the fall.

First let's start with food! We are cooking and eating in our own kitchen. I found some new recipes and the results have been surprisingly wonderful. I am not at all talented in the kitchen so this is big news around the home front. A couple of our favorite new dishes are "cheater's chicken cordon bleu" and chicken/pineapple/bacon kabobs on rice. Our newly empty-nest has changed our approach to meals...now it feels less like a required duty and more like something nice to do for ourselves...sorry kids! It's just comes down to having more time.

Next, to freshen up the interior and transition it to autumn, Layering with new pillows, throws and scented candles. I don't waste money on cheap candles because here is where you really get what you pay for.  I am exposed to many, many candles and the difference between a good candle and a cheapo is significant. The burn (clean or sooty), the fragrance quality, the fragrance throw...all much nicer when you are willing to spend a little more. You're breathing this stuff in so go for quality.  Try one of our Lafco candles. They come in a beautiful mouth-blown glass vessel, they smell amazing and when burned correctly they last for 90 hours! My new fave.

Now to put out my Halloween decorations and probably get weepy because I miss the kids. I have the Lori Mitchell trick or treaters attired in costumes that my boys had. Pirate, fire fighter and sweet pea...sniff, sniff.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

at home in Chester

The French Hen is now in our 3rd month in Chester and we feel right at home. Many of our lovely customers are finding us and discovering the magic of Chester center. Chester may be small, but it's mighty. The options for dining are numerous and range from fine dining to pubs and coffee shops. Our restaurants downtown include (all conveniently within a stone's throw of The French Hen and not listed in any particular order):
1. River Tavern
2. Good Elephant
3. Pattaconk
4. Riverside Thai
5. Otto Pizza
6. Wheatmarket
7. Simon's Market Place
8. Homage coffee & art
9. The Villager

Plus, just outside of the village we have Moravela's Pizza and Rustica Italian.  If you haven't been to Chester yet, come soon because you are bound to find something wonderful.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

All moved in and lots of thanks to go around

It's been quite a week! Last Sunday we closed the door at the Essex shop for the last time at 5pm. While it was a little sad to end our run there, I was anxious to get to work...and work it was! Less than one week later, Friday at 5pm,  the shop was open in Chester.  The painting, cleaning, staining, packing, moving, unpacking and arranging have taken every moment of everyday and was utterly exhausting! But, the outcome is spectacular. The store is so beautiful, even better than I could have ever imagined. It's light, bright, airy and happy.

The transition from Essex to Chester would not have been possible without the help of my tireless husband, sons and many friends; A huge thanks to Rob, Shay, Dan, Beth, Andy, RJ, Nina, Drew, Patrice, Jeff, MaryKay, Jon, Geoff, Henry, John, Kevin, Zach, Dave, and Paul. My team of French Hen girls have been great too- Kathryn, Kay, Alicia, Stephanie and Rachel...I am so very lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. Thanks to all of my helpers....xxxooo!

Stop by when you are in the area...you will love the new shop! Now, time to rest these weary bones.

Monday, June 6, 2016

S'well Bottles

If you have been in The French Hen, lately, chances are you've heard me gush about S'well bottles. They are simply awesome. They look and feel great and keep my water nice and cold. I drink more water because I love my S'well so. I use the medium size for my personal use and the big boy for the boat and beach etc. PS:the big boy holds an entire bottle of chilled wine so concerts in the park...no cooler or ice needed! This is THE GIFT for the graduates, golfers, boaters, yogis, tea totalers, wine lovers, hikers, bikers, teens, chicks, dudes...everyone!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Wall art & Mirrors

Sale...30% off... spruce up those walls on the cheap!

Friday, May 20, 2016


Yes, it is true,  I am relocating the shop to Chester. It has been a tough decision and one that took a long time to make. I knew it was time for a new space and I looked around for quite a while...even considering Glastonbury. But as a resident and huge fan of Chester...the choice was made. I hope my "regulars" will make the trip to shop in Chester...it's only about 8 minutes away. Meanwhile everything in the store is discounted...some more than others. I"m just lightening the load for the big move. At the end of June some of the larger fixtures will be offered for sale.

I will miss the village of Essex and all of the wonderful people that live and work there. But, like I've always said, to me Tri-town is actually one town...and a small one at that! I love Chester, Deep River and Essex.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The best gift I ever received

What's the best gift you've ever gotten? I can tell you mine. It was from my husband on the Christmas right before I opened The French Hen.  I think in Rob's mind it was a "stocking stuffer" level gift. It was a book titled "A Shop of One's Own" and it meant so much to me. The expensive sapphire earrings were meant to be the star,  but in my heart it was all about that little book. I cried when I opened it and just typing this got a little misty thinking back . I felt understood and acknowledged and that meant everything.

As you can imagine, I think about gifts a lot. Not so much about receiving them, but giving them and what makes a great gift great. I help people pick out presents for their loved ones everyday and have witnessed some very interesting gift-buying styles over the years. While there are the confident and decisive gift givers,  I would say that the indecisive and uncertain ones make up the majority of shoppers. When someone comes in with that obvious, "on a mission" posture, I jump in to assist. A good starting point is price because everyone knows how much they can afford to spend and I respect that. And price is just the first filter. And then- what are the recipient's interests? Gardening, yoga, preppy stuff, cooking, TV, nature, music, dragonflies, big earrings, apple pie, pink, entertaining, family? Just a little nugget, anything at all. What is their age? I could never suggest the fabulous peony-scented candle in mercury glass for an elderly lady or a teenager for that matter (danger Will Robinson). I would never suggest a figurine for someone that is described as a "hoarder" (actually happened today-no lie!) but instead a "consumable" like organic french soap or shea butter hand cream. My advice, whether you are shopping at The French Hen or any other gift boutique, is to allow the shop keepers to help you...we have the intel on every product on the shelves. We know the trends and can make great suggestions...it is after all, what we do.  It's very satisfying to hear about a gift that hits the mark from my store.

So anyway...its graduation time and we have some really nice selections for those who are about to launch into the future. Come on in and I will help you find something wonderful.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

give her what she wants, what she really really wants

Mother's day is Sunday people. It's the day Mom gets her performance appraisal...from you. This is a cumulative review from the moment you were born (or delivered by stork) to now. Consider the sleepless nights, countless bedtime stories, the fevers, parent teacher conferences, rides to swim lessons and all the LOVE. It's the day to say thanks for it all, the day to lay it on thick. Sappy, sweet and sentimental. She deserves it, but you already know that.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Nothing beats navy

When it comes to beach house interiors my vote will always be for navy and white.

It's crisp, clean and just right for water side living. Curtains, floor coverings, linens, dishes, accessories...all navy, white or both. Just an occasional pop of yellow or red...that's what makes me happy.

Here are a few (very few) of those items, in stock now that will help you achieve that casual, sunny look. We have so many more great coastal items in house and are excited to begin welcoming back our summer people.
great little metal pails, true throw backs, fill with a little sand to use as ash cans, use as compost bins, organize small toys, magazines
rectangular dishes with a deep edge, for serving snacks or controlling your jewelry on the bathroom counter
soft hampers to keep the laundry nicely contained

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Class of 2016

My "baby" is about to graduate from high school with a ceremony over Memorial Day weekend. As my youngest prepares for this milestone in life, my husband and I have been doing some reminiscing and the usual marveling at how fast time flies. We are so proud and happy for him, for everything that he has accomplished, the wonderful young man that he has become and for all of the wonderful things that lie ahead. Do you have any graduates in your family this year? Good Luck to them all! Class of 2016!!!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

giving a little is cool

Introducing a new line at the shop: The Giving Keys. Each real key is stamped with an empowering word. Wear it around your neck and when you are ready pass it on to someone who needs some inspiration. Give the key. The best part of the whole thing, the keys are cleaned, stamped and packaged by people transitioning out of homelessness. The keys are a literal and figurative key to having a roof over their heads and a bed of their own to sleep in every night, The Giving Keys.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

hostess with the most-est

home today not feeling so well, I was surfing around on line and came across these sweet tablescapes for your Easter celebrations. We have what you need in stock to complete any of these looks. I like the simpler tablescapes so the focus is in the delicious meal. How about you?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit

The sun is shining and the birds are singing today, March 1. What's the old saying...? If March comes in like a lamb it goes out like a lion? Oh boy. Hopefully the lamb will stick it out through April.

With this turn of the calendar, it's time for Spring cleaning, time to get the winter dust off of every surface. After all is clean and fresh take a look around at your home to see what's looking tired. Is it time to freshen up those old throw pillows? Maybe it's time to change up the wall art? Scan your interiors with eyes' of a guest. We get so used to seeing that dusty lampshade that we actually stop seeing it. A little perking up is in order...you deserve it! We have adorable little potted succulents and orchids (both faux). Don't forget to include a florally- scented candle.

Easter is early...March 27. Hop on in for a bunny.

Friday, February 5, 2016

gift show wrap up

Well, that's a wrap on gift show season. I had a productive trip to the Gift Mart in Atlanta in early January and just recently returned from a fun stint in NYC and the show at Javits. Some might think attending both shows excessive but I think it's imperative in order to bring my customers the best.
Here's a little summary of a few trends I observed at market.

Jewelry is small and delicate, light chains, small stud earrings. Lots of semi precious stones in natural shapes ( roughly cut and just lightly polished). These designs are really young and beautiful and somehow remind me of summer.
It's written in the stars....the constellation necklace with herkimer diamonds, now in stock.

Purses are big and slouchy...some with laser cut patterns, lots of vegan (non-leather) materials. Hobo is still the shape to have, I only wish everything didn't get so lost in the bottom of this silhouette. Try as I might to utilize numerous zippered pouches- I still end up scrounging around the bottom of the bag in search of something. Colors are toned down and soft. Sadly, fringe remains.

Interiors are BLUE again. There was a distinct absence of blue for the last few years and I am so happy to report that there was a ton of blue....navy, sky, aqua and my favorite gray-blue on upholstery, walls, pillows and tabletop in all of the showrooms. Let's face it, Connecticut likes blue and always will with or without "designer" approval. It's just nice to be able to access lots of what we like. Green was well represented in these categories too. Embossed green drinking glasses will be arriving in Essex shortly.

Animals....cows, goats, chickens, dogs are represented in whimsically collaged fabrics on pillows, hand towels and wall art. Super cute for casual spaces inspired by the "prairie style" that HGTV's, Fixer Upper, has popularized. 

Metallics are everywhere. I found this most interesting when put with raw woods and rustic materials. I like the adjacency of refined formality with rustic. Think delicate champagne flutes decorated with gold flowers (now in stock) on a rough-hewn wooden tray. I love pops of the metallic in the form of candles, rims on trays and glasses and in holiday decor. Next Christmas you will see some warm gold garlands and ornaments at The French Hen...a more formal look for the holidays. 
fabulous flutes festooned with gold. kir royale? (now in stock and ready to put into to action for your valentine festivities)

Nautical was plentiful and I sourced the good stuff for Essex...think easy breezy entertaining at the cottage or on the boat where sandy feet and wet bathing suits are a sign of a summer day lived right. Machine washable, unbreakable, relax. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

one of my favorite days.....an excuse to get sweet and sentimental

I love Valentines Day! But I am not a fan of the red roses. I prefer expressions that are more unique, less expected and longer lasting. Of course it's hard to argue with chocolates. lol.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

coming soon to The french Hen

Hi y'all (that southern twang is contagious),
Just returned home from 4 days at the Atlanta gift show.  And let me just say that I think you are going to be really pleased! I power shopped with more focus than ever before and found things that are really wonderful for you, your home, and your garden. So many great things to give as gifts or even better to keep for yourself.

New items will be coming in and we will be re-merchandising in the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile, I'd love it if you stopped by to say hello. Our winter hours are Wed - Saturday from 11-5 and Sunday 12-5.

I hope everyone's 2016 has started with good things.