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Friday, December 5, 2014

"Wind's In the East"

When I was in eighth grade, I had the sort of magical teacher that they make Lifetime docudramas about and she took me and my class to New York City as our final hurrah of the school year. There, we filed dutifully into plush velvet seats in a crowded theater alive with the excitement of the gathered, sat down, and held our breath as the curtain rose. I spent the next two hours in absolute rapture. Even looking back at going to that show now, brings me right back to the thrill of it, the direct infusion of joy that it brought to my life. That Broadway Production was Mary Poppins.

Pickwick's Mercantile is proud and delighted to support the Ogonquit Playhouse's partnership with the Music Hall in bringing Broadway hit "Mary Poppins" to life in Portsmouth. I spent this overcast morning on the long green carpets of our city's beautiful theater, watching a complex set slowly come to life- there was the precarious walk upon which chimney sweeps will gambol and high-step come next Thursday evening, there the roof of No. 17 Cherry Tree Lane, held aloft and bobbing above the stage. In one week, steel and wood will become the framework for something magical, a living, breathing production that is practically perfect in every way.

This production brings in a combination of local and big city talent, all dedicated professionals who are committed to making magic happen. Gail Bennett, who plays the indomitable Mary herself, has performed the part over one hundred times in productions that include the National Tour! With acting chops like that represented, it's no surprise that the Ogonquit production opened to rave reviews. Check out this August Seacoast Online write-up! Now imagine all of that goodness under the stunning chandelier and beneath our very own elegant proscenium. Mary Poppins at the Music Hall promises to be the Christmas gift of the season, for adults and children alike and tickets are going fast. Be sure to reserve yours HERE. I will be there Thursday evening to greet you and every other audience member and couldn't be more honored, to be perfectly honest!

Couldn't resist!
The mini carpet bags are too precious (and only 10 dollars)!
Swing by Pickwick's to chat Mary with us and pick up some show merch for Christmas- maybe hide the tickets inside a miniature Mary Poppins carpet bag? We will have Christmas ornaments, miniature carpet bags and, most importantly, those fabulous parrot head umbrellas!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Very Pickwick's Holiday

Greetings and a very merry holiday season to you from the Pickwickians! We are just getting into the full swing of things on this beautiful Shop Small Saturday (come visit us! 100% cashmere scarves, made in Germany for $20 and more!) and to celebrate the official arrival of "the most wonderful time of year" here is our sale weekend gift to you!

Please enjoy this Very Pickwick's Holiday Playlist. Pop it up on the laptop or phone, grab some pie and a warm cuppa whatever suits your fancy and enjoy a Victorian toned playlist that is a bit of a departure from the tin-can tunes that blare out throughout the season in these modern times. This playlist will change and grow as the season goes on, so be sure to check back regularly!

And be sure to check back at this space regularly as we will be posting our gift guides starting on Monday!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Restaurant Week Spotlight: Moxy

Last year, about this time, I used Restaurant Week as an opportunity to visit the newly opened The Rosa on State Street. I got all dolled up, ate some amazing food, and had an absolutely marvelous time. Restaurant Week is such a great impetus for a night out on the Seacoast that I wouldn't dare waste it when it came around again. After some deliberation, I decided to continue the trend of "new/new to me" and chose Moxy.

Moxy, a hip, streamlined spot on Penhallow Street has been all of the buzz lately around the port city. I appreciate a good meal, so I try to eavesdrop as heavily as possible on conversations regarding restaurant experiences and the consensus was overwhelmingly positive. Not surprisingly, as the heart and soul behind the operation come with some serious credentials. Owner Jay McSharry is the Jay in behind Jumpin' Jay's Fish Cafe, and Matt Louis, Chef and Owner, worked with Bouchon, The French Laundry, and even Per Se in New York City. Louis also recently participated in the Seacoast Rep's successful series of food talks, winningly entitled "Eat It Up!", which celebrated local movers, shakers, and innovators in the foodie world. This background, combined with that curious sign (modern American tapas? Oh?) was more than enough to get me through the door.

It was wonderful. The menu was the most interesting and enticing that I have seen in a long time, with options that were first class, but without pretension. With options like "Johnny Cake Community" (cornmeal pancakes, brown sugared pork shoulder, house sauces, crispy onion, pickled cucumbers), "Sauteed Delicata Squash" (autumn squash puree, cranberries, sunchoke chips, pea shoots), and "Fried Dough", if good old fashioned fried dough were getting dressed up for a date (chocolate, maple caramel, apple chutney, blueberry compote, oh my). Here's how it works. Everyone at the table choose three or four small bites (three each was more than enough for the black hole stomachs of my boyfriend and I) and then I recommend sharing, because you won't want to miss anything. This aspect really makes it more of a dining experience. We couldn't wait for our next dish to come out of the kitchen, to see how beautifully it was presented and then, of course, to taste it! My personal victory for the evening was getting my date to try blood sausage. Trust me. Don't be afraid. Try the blood sausage.

Of course, in true Portsmouth style, there is a fabulous selection of local beers (flights available!), but I was most amazed by the number of local farms and suppliers that Moxy uses. The list is on the back of their classy wooden plank menus and it truly enhanced the experience to know that the cost of your dinner, in many ways, goes right back into your community and local economy. Shop local. Eat local. Moxy gives its love to this area, give it some love back and plan a date to go out to dinner and experience the food, atmosphere, and excellent service. Restaurant Week may be nearly behind us now, but I am sure that the kitchens at Moxy will continue to raise the bar in the city for quality and innovation, hopefully for many years to come. And if you are reading this on 11/14 or 11/15, you still have a chance to catch their amazing Restaurant Week menu!

A big thank you to Lady Pickwick's for letting me borrow beautiful, made in Paris, La Vie jewelry pieces for the evening out. The heirloom quality brass, Swarovski crystal earrings are $48 at Lady Pickwick's, the beautiful delicate medallion necklace is $64, and the bracelet is $84. They are only a small selection of the many lovely, vintage inspired styles available at the boudoir shop on State Street, two doors down from Pickwick's Mercantile! Also, many thanks to Chris D'Amore of Chris D'Amore Photography for accompanying me and taking the wonderful photographs!

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Psychic Parlor Re-Cap: A Magical Evening

In Victorian times, when the supernaturalist movement was reaching its peak, people used to gather in studies, dining rooms and, of course, parlors, to try their hand at making contact with "the other side". Obsessed as we are with cameos, shadows, and all things from the era of buttoned boots and London fog, it seemed a perfect fit to pay homage to the ethereal gatherings of yore. On Sunday evening, October 26th, thirty lucky guests (who contributed to the Portsmouth Halloween Parade with their attendance) joined the staff of Pickwick's Mercantile and special presenters Roxie Zwicker and Knate Higgins for an evening of high spirits, swinging 30's Halloween tunes, and crash courses in reading beyond the veil and folk magic. 

Knate Higgins, producer of the Red Light Series at the Seacoast Repertory Theatre, introduced the audience to the tools of the trade- from the desert ever-herb Rose of Jericho to the mystical, practical recipes that people have used for centuries to bring prosperity and good fortune to their homes and dear ones. 

Roxie Zwicker, the intrepid and insightful leader of the Haunted Portsmouth walking tours and author Haunted Portsmouth and The New Hampshire Book of the Dead (both available at Pickwick's at the Banke) brought her knowledge and good grace to the upstairs stage. In her workshops, she shared her deep knowledge of tasseomancy (the reading of tea leaves) and cards from the classic tarot to the enchanting Lenormand, to a room of visitors watching and learning with rapt attention.

The event was hosted as a benefit for the Portsmouth Halloween Parade, an annual celebration of spooky community that winds its way through the streets, bringing us together to gambol and cheer and generally make a joyful ruckus under the dark autumn skies. Pickwick's was thrilled to see representatives of the Parade, including the Grand Marshal himself, come out for the event and set up their bags of tricks on the Parade table.

Before and after the festivities, we were lucky to the have the Portsmouth Herald graciously come out and write two fabulous and complimentary articles about the Psychic Parlor and, of course, the Parade! For more Parlor goodness, you can read those here and here!

This is only the first of many events coming down the line for Pickwick's Mercantile. Keep your eyes on the Facebook page and this space for invites and updates on what is sure to be a winter full of good times to be had by all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Harvest Festival Photo-Op

It was rainy Harvest Festival and Chili Cook-Off, but that didn't stop the Pickwick's team from gadding about beneath the awning. The talented and lovely Kathleen Cavalaro of Bird and Bough Marketing swung by and caught some shots of Harvest Fest Pickwickians having a touch of fun! Thank you, Kathleen!

Admiral Candybuttons rocking the leiderhosen
Thistle doing her best impression of a Borgia

Adelaide and Thistle war over one of our fox-head canes
(ideal for tapping through the foggy byways of London)
Magnificent, malevolent, Adelaide (Maleficent) Dreadful
Sage Theodora looks as if she may be up to no good
Cauldrons behind her and cloaked in mystery as she is...

As a mention, don't forget about the amazing Pickwick's Psychic Parlor coming up! Spaces are limited!! Pick up your ticket at the shop, call us at (603) 427 - 8671 or drop Thistle a line at!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Autumn Leaves

I am an unashamed autumn geek. I love the arrival of pumpkin spice everything, I revel in the annual battle between cracked window and heaping blankets, and I watch the leaves turn with a keenly monitoring eye. September means a gentle return to more grounded rhythms. October calls for dark nights and high spirits (of all kinds, certainly). November always comes on padded feet, shushing through the mellow sweet-rot of the leaves and instigating the gradual process of our coming together. Oh, yes. I love this season with all of my heart.

Goldenrod Socks - $10 at Pickwick's Mercantile
Stolen Riches Dress Laces - $18 at Pickwick's Mercantile

Autumn, while perhaps better suited to introspection than Summer, is far too early to throw one's self willingly into the more austere measures of action and dress that Winter often requires. There is still a bit of whimsy left to the year. Embrace it! Embrace tall socks and leiderhosen reminiscent details! Embrace flights of fancy! Embrace train tracks rambling off to nowhere and acknowledge the little glories that are found in details.

I have always thought that tall socks looked better on petite girls, that I was borrowing a look that wasn't really mine when I went for anything that erred on the side of twee or even delicate. As the years go by, I find myself caring less and less about perceptions of who wears what and more interested in the look that I'm feeling at the moment. Anyway, nobody bosses me around during my favorite season. Not even me. So out came the goldenrod socks, usually reserved for floor-sweeping Pickwick's dresses, and out came the blue shoelaces and elfin oxfords.

Golden Age & Love Spell Eye Soot - $23 at Lady Pickwick's
Berry Lipstick - $22 at Lady Pickwick's

Luckily for everyone, I will not be offering eyeshadow lessons, but I must say that the Rituel de Fille eye soot made me feel like I knew what I was doing. They're so beautifully pigmented that you can actually see what you're working with before you've already caused a cosmetic disaster. I blended Golden Age (a smoky gold) with Love Spell (a luminescent copper) to go for a no muss, few layers, neutral lid. Browns tend to work well with blues, but all of the shades we have in the shop are so beautiful that I had difficulty choosing. Ultimately I went with something to suit the detailing on the dress and the gold band on the hat. As for a lip, I chose Lipstick Queen's Sinner Collection "Berry". Autumn is what I will call the "Food and Drink Season" when it comes to lip colors- berries, wines, russet, and rust tones. Neutral and infallibly mature, these shades can help balance the sugar-sweet aspect of an outfit like this.

Janessa Leone Hats- $150 - $200 at Lady Pickwick's

Hats are on their way back in (thank you, American Horror Story and Mad Men), which is great news, especially when some of them look like this. The Janessa Leone hats are 100% wool, made in America, and an unassuming bit of Americana chic that complements all sorts of preferences. I love the gold band detailing on this particular piece (my own, from Pickwick's). It sets it apart without making the hat a focal point. There is a seamlessness to the design that translates to any outfit.
Braid Detail Dress - $52 at Lady Pickwick's

I cannot sing the praises of dresses with pockets enough. Even with nothing in them, they lend a certain air of practicality and readiness. I could start walking down these mystery tracks and just keep tramping. Who knows what will come out of the Mary Poppin's infinite pockets to help me on my way?

I hope that you are preparing for Halloween and the coming chill in earnest. We certainly are. As a matter of a fact, be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook page, as we are releasing information and the open invitation to our Psychic Parlor event this very morning! Behold:

Tickets will be available at Pickwick's Mercantile starting today! Reserve your spots quickly, though, as they will move swiftly indeed.

In the meantime, please go do some leaf peeping and may this song run through your head as you go!


See something you love, but can't come in to get it yourself?
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We'll send it right to your doorstep!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Apothecary Guru Review of "Harry's" Truman Shave Set

This kit (+ coupon for four free blades)
available at Pickwick's Mercantile for $22
Image from Fast Company
Pickwick's Perfumery Guru

Using a Harry’s razor is like using a paint brush to shave your face. The grip folds into your hand perfectly, and only the lightest amount of pressure is needed to achieve a perfectly close shave. The cartridge head is angled to make short, painless work of navigating the tricky curves around the neck, and even managing those awkward spots under the nose.

The shaving cream is thick, rich and loaded with good stuff like coconut oil. Your face should be baby smooth and hydrated for the entire day after a single use. Just remember to rinse the blade well as you shave.

So guys – forget the drive to the drugstore and try the Harry’s line. You can order more cartridges online at They will be delivered to your doorstep as part of their subscription plan, based on your individual shaving needs (i.e. everyday smooth, sometimes smooth, and Viking bearded warrior style.)  

Fabulous Allen and Gerritsen interview
with Jeff Raider, Harry's co-founder