Shop Spotlight : Ville-Marie




There is something in the air when Fall rolls around that makes me want to stock up on candles. Whether I’m relaxing with a book, watching television or hanging with my pups, I almost always have one burning in the evening. The simple, elegant ones I stumbled upon from Ville-Marie of Montreal are at the top of my shopping list, particularly those graced with touches of gold. 

Why Hello Again…

The last six months have been a whirlwind for me to say the least. I’ve walked down the aisle, and in August, we relocated to a new pre-war apartment we adore on Upper West Side, but which nonetheless, has been quite a lot of work. In connection with settling into our new apartment, I was reminded of why I started this blog in the first place. All too often in the last month, I’ve resorted to going to big box stores (sad, but true) for home decor over my frustration with finding handmade items on Etsy or elsewhere that I truly love. I continue to believe that there are great handmade items and artists out there albeit they can often be difficult to find. That’s why this blog and other resources, such as Martha Stewart’s American Made program, are so important for spreading the word on great handmade goods and the makers behind them. 

Today’s handmade picks are inspired by my ongoing search for amazing home decor items. I’ve also included some pictures of the new apartment before the move-in. Feel free to leave comments with any suggestions for decorating, and stay tuned for the “after” pictures, which I’ll post soon. 















SHOP SPOTLIGHT : Farizula Designs





I’m happy to be dropping by today to say a cheery hello on the blog and to showcase the minimalist, whimsical cups from Farizula Designs of Indianapolis, Indiana. Designed by Raechel Amey, you’ll want to check out her shop, which has loads of others cups beyond those pictured above. Many have downright cheeky words or quotes that will be sure to make you smile with your morning coffee or tea. 

(all photos from Farizula Designs)

Reading Lately…




Super Natural Every Day
Goodbye to All That


The Honest Life
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

My bedside table has taken a much needed break from novels over the past few weeks as my schedule has been go, go, go recently. Instead, I’ve been enjoying two cookbooks that were recommended to me a few months ago. The recipes I’ve tried so far have been delicious, healthy and satisfying, and the beauty of the food and the narratives around the recipes have made both cookbooks enjoyable reads. I love hearing about others’ experiences with and memories of certain dishes, often from their youth, and how these memories live on in the recipes they cook.  I highly recommend both. 

In an effort to become more educated about how to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, I picked up The Honest Life. It has been an eye opening look at the products we use and ingest on a daily basis and describes them in an easy to understand way. I appreciated its practical advice on how to make certain changes to live more environmentally friendly without overhauling your life. 

Ah New York. It’s been my home for over five years but we may be saying goodbye in the next few months. I picked up Goodbye to All That to lessen the blow of leaving my fourth love (after my fiance and two dogs, of course). The book is full of experiences that we all face while in the city, the good, the bad and the ugly. While it certainly hasn’t made me want to pack my bags just yet, it has been helpful to hear others’ journeys from the city. 

I’m happy to report that I’ve been getting some great shop submissions lately, and I’m excited to share a few with you next week. Wishing you all a great weekend, and for those on the east coast, stay warm during our next winter snow storm. 

(top photo by Explore Handmade)

Reading Lately…




Super Natural Every Day
Goodbye to All That


The Honest Life
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

My bedside table has taken a much needed break from novels over the past few weeks as my schedule has been go, go, go recently. Instead, I’ve been enjoying two cookbooks that were recommended to me a few months ago. The recipes I’ve tried so far have been delicious, healthy and satisfying, and the beauty of the food and the narratives around the recipes have made both cookbooks enjoyable reads. I love hearing about others’ experiences with and memories of certain dishes, often from their youth, and how these memories live on in the recipes they cook.  I highly recommend both. 

In an effort to become more educated about how to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, I picked up The Honest Life. It has been an eye opening look at the products we use and ingest on a daily basis and describes them in an easy to understand way. I appreciated its practical advice on how to make certain changes to live more environmentally friendly without overhauling your life. 

Ah New York. It’s been my home for over five years but we may be saying goodbye in the next few months. I picked up Goodbye to All That to lessen the blow of leaving my fourth love (after my fiance and two dogs, of course). The book is full of experiences that we all face while in the city, the good, the bad and the ugly. While it certainly hasn’t made me want to pack my bags just yet, it has been helpful to hear others’ journeys from the city. 

I’m happy to report that I’ve been getting some great shop submissions lately, and I’m excited to share a few with you next week. Wishing you all a great weekend, and for those on the east coast, stay warm during our next winter snow storm. 

(top photo by Explore Handmade)

Shop Spotlight: Xuanqi







I’m excited to showcase the raw Herkimer Diamond Rings from Xuanqi on Explore Handmade today. The Singapore-based jeweler’s rings feature a pitch perfect combination of modern elegance and natural classic beauty and will look great paired with pastel nails this upcoming spring. A few of my favorites from Essie’s spring and resort 2014 collections are above. As a reminder, if you have a handmade shop, consider completing a submission form to be considered for a feature of your shop on Explore Handmade in the future. 

(photos from Xuanqi)

A Perfect Saturday

Happy weekend. It’s been a long week for me with some days feeling like a juggling act with one too many balls in the air. Forget about balance, this week was about simply getting through it. We’ve all had these weeks I’m sure, but I’m thankful to be feeling a sense of relief today as we approach the weekend.  In anticipation of this upcoming weekend and the recharging I have in store, I’ve been dreaming of my perfect Saturday, which for me goes a little something like this…


 

9:00 a.m.

Wake up. Coffee & Reading the Paper in Bed. 

Gold Polka Dot Porcelain Mug Blue from Silver Lining Ceramics $36.00




 

11:30 a.m. 

Take the Dogs on a Walk in Central Park. 

RESQ Leash “The Skinny” Rope from RESQCO $46.00



 

1:15 p.m.

Grab My Bag and Head to the Farmer’s Market.

Marble Print Bag from Hokoda $39.00



3:45 p.m.

Edit My Photography and Work on the Blog Editorial Calendar. 

Oree Board Leather Pouch from Oree Design $42.18


5:30 p.m.

Get Cooking a Delicious Dinner.

Test Tube Spice Rack from Meriwether of Montana $42.00




8:00 p.m.

Relax and Enjoy a Good Read. 

Minimalist Book Shelf from Tumai $32.00


10:30 p.m.

Take a Long Relaxing Bath with Fragrant Salts. 

Nightingale - Mineral Bath Soak, Lavender Scent from Fabled Soap Co. $20.00




 

11:30 p.m. 

Cup of Tea & Off To Sleep. 

Hand Blown Clear Glass Infuser Teapot with Steel Filter from Unihom $49.99

Wishing you all your perfect Saturday this weekend.

Makeup DIY: Brush Cleaner


I adore the glamour of makeup, but one of the most important parts of my makeup routine, and indeed one of the least glamorous, is the regular cleaning of my makeup brushes.  Not only is it helpful to avoid a skin infection, but it’s also key to preventing skin breakouts.  When I begin to experience breakouts with greater frequency, I know my brushes need a good scrub. After all, makeup is great, but a radiant, blemish free complexion sans loads of makeup is even better.  




When my brushes contain color pigmentation, as shown above, that does not wipe away after swiping on the back of my hand or on a paper towel, it’s another sign my brushes should be cleaned. 



My DIY makeup brush cleaner solution couldn’t be more basic. I fill a small bowl with 2 parts liquid dish soap and 1 part olive oil. Then, I give the solution a good mix.  I take each brush individually and swirl in the solution for a few seconds. 



After swirling in the solution, I wipe the brush several times on a paper towel to remove the makeup residue.  



I then swirl the brush in some cold water. I wipe the brush again on a new paper towel to make sure all the residue is removed. Once finished, I place the brushes, bristles down, propped against the side of a colander while any remaining water drips from the brushes and leave there until the brushes have fully dried.  If you invest in more pricey brushes, you should definitely make sure not to dry them with the bristles facing up.  Doing so will cause the bristles to fall out as the water dripping down will damage the bristles’ attachment to the brush’s base. 

(all photos by Explore Handmade)

Handmade Steals & Deals


Ah, that surge of satisfaction upon finding a deal.  It never really gets old for me.  Winter is winding down (at least I hope so!), and that can only mean one thing: sales to unload some excess inventory before spring. They couldn’t come at a better time with my wallet still feeling a bit lighter after the holidays. Below are handmade items currently on sale that have made my short list.



Labradorite Bead Necklace currently on sale for $39.00 from Close Up Jewelry 



Set of 2 Wood Wick Lavender Candles currently on sale for $30.00 from MoodyWicks



Infinity Scarf from DailyAccessoriez, previously $28.00 now on sale for $19.00



Vera Leather Shoes in Grey from abramey now 20% off $269.00 with coupon code INLOVE20 at checkout



Personalized Bamboo Wood Circle Keyring from Clara and Macy marked down 30% to $15.31 



Emergency Kit Greeting Card Set from Carrie Can Shop marked down 30% to $17.72



Ranunculus, Pink and White Art Print now 30% off $30.00 from ChelseaVictoria with coupon code Valentine14 at checkout



Gold River Pendants originally priced at $78 now on sale for $69 from Close Up Jewelry 


Want more? If you’d like to find out about more handmade deals in the future, subscribe to Explore Handmade’s newsletter

DIY Coffee Yogurt Facial Scrub


A facial scrub is not part of my regular facial skin care routine. A cleanser, toner and moisturizer is about all I have the patience for on a day-to-day or semi-regular basis. Occasionally though, when I notice my skin getting a bit duller or some sloughing of dead skin, I’ll whip up a handmade facial scrub as a remedy. It does a great job without a lot of effort on my part.  This past weekend I noticed that the cold, dry weather has been taking its toll on my face so I made my go-to handmade coffee yogurt facial scrub. Happily, the ingredients are pretty basic and were already in my kitchen. 

1 /2 Tbsp coffee grinds 

1/4 cup greek yogurt (not fat free)

1/2 Tbsp lemon juice 





Once the coffee and yogurt are well mixed, I add about 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice (use less if you do not have oily skin). After mixing in the lemon juice, I slather a thin layer on my face in a circular motion and let it set for about 20 minutes until it is dry. The cool soothing feeling of the yogurt is heavenly, and if I’m having any face puffiness this mask does wonders because of the caffeine in the coffee. Once dry, I rinse off with warm water. Facial complexion improved, I spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the lingering scent of lemon. 



(all photos from Explore Handmade)