02 June 2017. Welcoming miiThaaii--a new line of clothing and accessories from founding designer Yumiko Sekine.  As a new and developing brand under the aegis of Fog Linen Work, miiThaaii focuses on products made of 100% cotton Lungi material from India. While Lungi can come in thousands of patterns, Sekine is mainly using the blue madras check which in itself hosts many permutations.  In this way, all of the miiThaaii items are assorted. When you order, we want you to be open to the possibility that you may not receive the the specific check pattern in the product image. Items are in the 'blue' family and feature checks and plaids. What is certain is that miiThaaii is a sweet surprise, crisp cotton, and fresh for Summer. We hope you enjoy the edited collection we offer here at Shop Fog Linen.

 


25 May 2017. Being in the business of keeping many items at hand, from necklaces to comforter covers to oven mittens, we have learned a few things over the years. We're no organizational wizards, but we know for certain that digging feverishly through teetering stacks is no way to live or run a business. So when we moved into a bigger space a few years ago, a space that allowed for increased inventory, we thought hard about creating a new system.

We started with an industrial supply catalogue where we found stainless steel shelving that could hold slim, open-topped, low-sided boxes. We chose boxes that could fit items of various shapes and sizes while keeping them visible and accessible. We put these boxes on lower shelves, and we put large boxes of back-stock on the harder-to-reach top shelves. Each box was given a simple, square label affixed by a binder clip so that contents were clear and labels could be easily removed or updated. 

Years in, this system works well for us. Most importantly, it supports our day-to-day functioning and promotes clarity. While we don't believe there are golden rules of organization, here are a few things we think could easily cross over between work and home spaces:  

- "A place for everything and everything in its place." This motto describes our approach to organization. If there is a place where an item always lives, it can go right back there quickly, easily, and without thought. 

- Storage containers should allow you to see your stuff. We've learned that the areas we can't see -- under tables and in cabinets, for example -- are the first to collect stuff that we'll deal with "later," i.e. never. 

- When you can see your stuff, a number of positive things happen: you know what you have and are less likely to acquire what you don't need. And, maybe because of vanity, you're less likely to allow clutter to gather in those visible spaces. 

- Adjust your system so that it stays relevant. For example, if you switch to paperless bills, see if you can get rid of stored paper records and free up that space for something else. 

- Make household items double as storage. Place paperclips together in your favorite bowl. Use a towel rod to hang jewelry or wall-mounted coat rack to hang pants. Put a picnic basket to work as a container for textiles and scarves. It might also look pretty, but our point is that there's a lot of utility hiding in the items you already own. 

So, that's it. There's no magic involved. Really, it's just a desire and commitment to increase calm and decrease agitation. If you find that being in your space soothes you, we'd say that's a good sign your system's working for you. 


17 May 2017. You get home from work. It's hot. You're tired.

You peel off your shoes and unstick your shirt from your back. You get a glass of something cold and take a minute to settle in. Maybe your work clothes get switched out for something cool and comfortable.

Once you've regained your equilibrium, you realize you're hungry. Everything seems like too much effort, but cheese & crackers (again) feel insubstantial.

Some food trends come and go, but cold soup has staying power, and it's no mystery why. It takes ten minutes and a blender. With minimal work, you can make something genuinely delicious, satisfying, and nutritious. 

A favorite around here is avocado-cucumber soup. It's rich with flavor but not heavy. It can be customized to your tastebuds with whatever herbs or greens you have in the fridge. If you don't have a scallion, just leave it out. And, to get back to the main point, it requires no time at the stove or depletion of the precious little energy you have left. 

In the time it takes to caramelize an onion, you'll find yourself in the coolest part of your house or yard, sipping this green delight while savoring the knowledge that the night ahead is yours.

Avocado-Cucumber Soup : serves 1-2

Ingredients
1/2 avocado, roughly chopped
1/2 cucumber, peeled if desired, roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 scallion, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation
1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend on high speed until puréed. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if you would like. 

2. If you prefer a thinner soup, add 1/4 cup cold water. If you want more cucumber flavor, add the remaining half and blend again. Same goes for the avocado. 

This is great with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream or an additional drizzle of olive oil. A piece of toast on the side would round it out nicely. 

Variations 
1. Before blending, add a 1/4 cup of fresh herbs or greens, like cilantro, parsley, dill, or arugula. 

2. Add a dash of your favorite spice or seasoning before blending. Ground cumin, curry powder, Old Bay, sumac, celery seeds, and sriracha, to name a few. Nearly anything you add will be delicious.

 


05 May 2017. Mother's Day is an occasion to say thanks to your mom, but "mom" isn't always clear-cut. Maybe, instead of one mom, others have filled that role over the years. Teachers, neighbors, relatives, caregivers, mentors--people who have consistently shown care and support. People you know you can count on. 

In my life, that's my great-aunt. She checks in regularly from Atlanta to say hi, and, even though we're at different life stages, we have lots to discuss. She tells me what it was like to grow up in rural Georgia in the '30s and about her career at the telephone company. She wasn't intent on getting married, but when she met my uncle in her thirties, she thought, "This might work." When she and my uncle got serious, they moved into the same building but kept separate apartments, traversing the floors throughout their courtship. 

I update her on my life, we gossip about the family, and she teases me because I'm nearly always on-the-go while we're chatting. Our talks are regular doses of love and connection. 

To me, my aunt is a mom. On May 14th, I'll wish her a happy Mother's Day, and I'll thank her for the connection she's nurtured for years until I was old enough to nurture it back.

What she and other mom-figures seem to know is that nurturing and feeding relationships is what it's all about. That slow, steady investment of love and check-ins can take decades to recoup, sure, but that process yields the good stuff of life. 


27 April 2017. We spend a lot of time seeking happiness. The feeling of happiness is so pleasing that it can be hard to accept that it can't be squeezed into stillness or submission. Like every things else, it comes and goes, like a cloud in the sky.

It's helpful to put things in terms of Vacation Happy versus Everyday Happy. On vacation, free from responsibilities and surrounded by new experiences, happiness comes easily.

In everyday life, we must find happy in the ordinary. Listening to the birds on your walk to work, reading on the couch with your feet up, slicing carrots and enjoying the feel of a good knife -- in each, there is an absorbed contentment where mind and body are in tune. This is the stuff of everyday happy. 

Most recently, a friend discovered this while typing on a typewriter. The process of typing slowed her thoughts until she was only listening for the satisfying snap of each letter, feeling the resistance of each key, and watching as words gradually formed and became rows of sentences. She lost track of time, and as she pulled her letter free, she felt lighter. 

Whatever task is coming next, perhaps you can find that in-sync-ness that signals, "Linger here, take it in." 


21 April 2017. Sometimes, you need a soak in a tub or a long walk. Both can go a long way towards clearing your head. But, sometimes, shortbread is the only answer. With building blocks of butter and enough flour to act as cement, it has no substitute. Its butteriness is the focus, and all other flavors exist only as bolsters. When the first crumbs hit your tongue, all noise fades into the background. For a few seconds, it's just rich sweetness with the occasional burst of salt. 

We recently discovered a shortbread that keeps external noise at bay for a satisfyingly long time. Its fine crumb has a slight chew, and the rosemary accent bucks tradition and makes people's eyes widen with surprise before they close with pleasure.

Made mostly in the food processor, the batter come together quickly, dumps (culinary term) into a pan, and gets expediently pressed down for baking. In short, it's delicious, unique, and the perfect end to a simple and fuss-free meal.

Rosemary Shortbread : Recipe from The New York Times

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour 
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon plus 1 pinch kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted cold butter, cut into 1-inch chunks

Preparation
1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, rosemary and salt. Add butter and pulse to fine crumbs. Pulse a few more times until some crumbs start to come together, but don't overprocess. Dough should not be smooth.

2. Press dough into an ungreased 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan or 9-inch pie pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes for 9-inch pan, 45 to 50 minutes for 8-inch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cut into squares, bars or wedges while still warm.

Image: Linen Denim Napkins and Grey Chambray Linen Blanket


11 April 2017 At Shop Fog Linen, we get excited by linen and the versatility of flax, the plant that linen comes from. But people have been excited about linen for thousands of years, using it to create durable textiles, and these days, not much has changed; linen is still beloved for clothing, sheets, and towels. But dig deeper, and it turns out that flax's reach has expanded. Manufacturers have harnessed its natural qualities of strength and lightness and using flax to build cars, furniture, fishing rods, and even surfboards.
 
These innovative uses might seems worlds away from the linen in your home, but they all start with flax. Fog Linen Work products come from flax grown in Lithuania, an area well-known for its flax production. Flax is cultivated worldwide for its oil, seeds, and, most important for linen production, its fibers. Fibers run the full length of the 3-4 foot stalk into the plant's roots. Long fibers that are elastic and lustrous translate to higher quality linen. To capture the flax fibers at this moment, the plant is harvested at about 100 days old. The mechanized harvesting process pulls the plant up from the roots, preserving the integrity and length of the fiber. 
 
After plants have been pulled from the ground, they are laid flat to dry for several weeks. Next comes retting, a process of exposing the plants to moisture to break down the internal cellular structure so that the fibers can be separated. The fibers are pulled apart from their woody stalks in a process called scutching. Finally, the fibers are combed through to separate long fibers from short, and they undergo polishing in preparation for spinning. When spun, flax fibers produce a fine, thin yarn. Multiple lengths of this thin yarn are spun together to produce a thicker weave. To create fabric, flax yarn is woven into sheets that can be bleached, washed, or dyed, or simply left untreated and spooled. 
 
At Fog Linen Work, goods are created by designer, Yumiko Sekine, in Tokyo and seamstresses in Lithuania. A years-long working relationship between these parties results in small-batch production of the clothing and soft goods that make up Fog Linen Work. 
 
As flax becomes a darling in the world of science and technology, it's finding applications beyond what we can envision. From the kitchen cloth in our hand, to the surfboard under our feet, the many uses of this natural fiber continue to captivate us. To learn more, here's a super-cool video about innovations in flax, and here's an artistic take on linen production through the years. 


25 February 2017. Fog Linen's new jersey knit linen epitomizes soft, graceful comfort. After debuting in Japan last year, the line is in its first, stateside run. Four pieces make up the new collection: the Kei cardigan, the Jun top, the Remi dress, and the Mami pants. With a delicate drape that hugs without clinging, the line has made a fast impression on us. 

Though new to Fog Linen, jersey knits have a long history starting in the Bailiwick of Jersey in the Channel Islands off the coast of France. In Jersey, the knits were first made from wool to serve as clothing for fishermen, and until the late 19th century, jersey knits were usually confined to undergarments like hosiery and underwear. However, in 1852, the French fashion house Rodier started developing jersey knits for fashionable wear, and in 1916, Coco Chanel threw herself (and jersey) into the spotlight with one of her first clothing collections. The collection featured coats and skirts made with jersey, which was still considered more appropriate for underthings. Chanel continued to raise jersey's profile by using it frequently in her iconic suits of the 1950s and 60s. 

These days, jersey knits appear throughout our closets. Their staying power is linked to their silky, soft hand that makes them a pleasure to wear close to the skin. With Fog Linen's jersey, expect to find four pieces you can look forward to putting on. Layered under a cardigan or over a slip, they possess the same wonderful qualities of linen with an everyday, easy elegance.

Image: Kei cardigan 


9 February 2017. What inspires you when you're getting dressed in the morning? 

Scratch that. Do you feel inspired when you get dressed in the morning? Especially in the winter, does the idea of waking up, getting out of a warm bed and into structured clothing cast a chill over your heart? It does mine. The last thing I want to do is get into clothes that require the right accessories, undergarments, and sucking in. Add to that every so often I decide I no longer like any of my clothes. To counter sounding spoiled, I'll offer that I've heard similar sentiments from friends. It seems like it's not uncommon to become disenchanted with everything in your closet.

The funny thing is, though, I love my clothes. I thought a lot about buying them before bringing them home and they are generally comfortable and match my style. Therefore, when I get that whiny, feet-stomping "I have nothing to wear" feeling, I know the problem is with me.

For most, buying a new wardrobe isn't an option. And, if I'm honest, I feel like that would be cheating. I have a theory that every piece of clothing has a certain number of combinations and permutations within it, and your job as its owner is to uncover them. Sometimes, it's as simple cuffing a pair of pants or unbuttoning a button-down. Often, it's taking a seemingly formal piece of clothing and pairing it with something laid-back. I have a blouse with a graphic print that I finally figured out can work under overalls. On its own, the blouse is loud and attention-grabby, but with overalls, it fits right in. 

So, instead of starting from scratch, the real challenge is to find a way to become enamored with your clothes all over again. Full disclosure: this can involve buying a piece or two that help put a different spin on your look. Shoes and jewelry, especially, have the power to do this.

All too soon, you'll be putting sweaters and layers away for spring. While you still can, take another look at them, find a different vantage point, and give them a second, third, or thirteenth chance to win you over and put you back into the getting-dressed game.

Image: Runa Shop Coat


1 February 2017. Picture a cool summer morning. You wade into the garden ready to zone in and weed for the next few hours before the sun comes out and the bugs attack. You get so focused that you don't notice yourself growing grubby until, all of a sudden, you reach your heat-dirt saturation point. It's time to pack it in and scrape off the grime. That's the precise moment your neighbor chooses to stop by to admire your labor and chat. As you stand there talking, you long to feel less like a human bag of mulch. But how? A shower, certainly, but an instant remedy? An apron. 

Aprons protect us from the dirt of everyday life, the stuff we don't want to wear after the task is done. They also create a united front of an outfit. This applies not only to gardening, but also painting, working with clay, dusting, cooking, demolishing. Imaginary scene #2: you're preparing for a dinner party, sweats on, hair askew, when you hear a knock on the door from a well-meaning but altogether too early guest. Suddenly, an apron is a godsend. It not only hides the not-safe-for-guests clothing, but makes you look put-together as you gracefully exit and scramble into your party clothes. 

In essence, an apron is a uniform. It marks its wearers as hands-on, practical, and prepared. Even if you're attempting to throw pottery or rip up flooring for the first time, an apron can make you look ready for the job. And though we strive to have qualities that are more than skin deep around here, looking prepared is sometimes the first step towards feeling adept. It's only a hop, skip, and a jump from there to genuine confidence, the kind that, apron-clad, allows us to go out into the world and face the mess. 

Image of our daily apron in Blue Violet by Jenny Hallengren