Saturday, February 28, 2009

Etsy Love

If you haven't visited Etsy before, stop reading and go there immediately. Peruse, enjoy and take it all in, and then come back and check out some of my favorite sellers and latest finds. Agreed? Good.

I joined Etsy (as a buyer) a couple of years ago, and I've gotten plenty of quality gifts (some for myself!) from independent crafters all over the country. There are plenty of international sellers, too. Unless you're living in some dream town, you'd be hard pressed to find the specialty, one-of-a-kind items that people create and put up for sale on Etsy. I have a few favorite stores locally that I frequent for this same reason (The Flying Carp and The Maple Tree are two of my favorites), but I've come to buy more and more from Etsy, too, especially if it means I can forgo the big chain stores and mall trips for something more unique.

I decided to throw together a list of some of my favorite Etsy sellers and a look at items I'd love to buy, but really don't have the money for right now. There are thousands of sellers on Etsy, so even if the following don't tickle your fancy, I'm willing to bet you can find someone who does.

Untamed Menagerie

This mother daughter duo from Tennessee creates wonderous, whimsical acrylic jewelry. Their work is absolutely inspiring, and I think everyone should sport their creations. I myself have had my eye on these little numbers for months and months now:

Does it get any better than a strand of pearls with a tight-rope walking elephant? And look at the bows! Absolutely charming. And, come on, the earrings? They are chandelier earrings that look like chandeliers.

It's only a matter of time before I break down and order one. Untamed Menagerie also has fabulous prices (which the majority of Etsy world does). The elephant necklace is $22 and the chandelier earrings are $18. I think I can spare that much of my next paycheck...


I have a soft spot for all things recycled, and picapicadesign is the perfect place to shop for those who love your three R's. Liz Grotyohann is a graphic designer in New Jersey who is also a self-proclaimed "crafter/collage artist by night." Her Etsy shop is full of beautiful jewelry, repurposed object art, vases and bowls out of recycled papers and maps (!), and tons more.

I'm buying these earrings for my friend, Amy, at some point. It's not a question of if I will, but more so when I will.

The world is Amy's home, and what better way to express that than with earrings depicting teeny maps of two of her most-loved places? This is something lots of Etsy sellers feature - custom made crafts. You're not going to find that at most stores, for sure. These earrings run $18.

I also adore Liz's map bowls:

These ones are made out of Boston metro maps, and I love the black and white quality. The bowl is $18, too.


I never painted the walls of my bedroom, and at this point I'm not going to. What that means is I need some very cool, decorative art to take up the vast whiteness. My problem is solved with shaNickers!

Shanon is an interior designer in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and her shop is full of her unique wall decals and self-adhesive wall murals. They don't damage the surface and are easy to apply, but then take down and take with you if you're a renter (like myself).

Here's my favorites:

The birdie perched is $46. The stylized flowers is $57. I want to cover my room in Shanon's artwork, but I have a feeling, as cool as it is, it wouldn't look so good all mashed together on four tiny walls. ;)

Paloma's Nest

Caroline Colom Vasquez, an Austin, Texas, based artist, creates with all natural materials including fine clays, wood, paper and cloth. She says her pieces are "for the heart," and once you look through her shop it's impossible not to agree with her. What initially caught my eye at Caroline's shop were her snowy white ceramic pieces. She hand stamps words and phrases onto a myriad of things, including tiny textured dishes and bowls, and I love the simplicity of it all.

It's hard to pick a favorite, and if I order anything I may go with a custom pick, but I do love this:

The 3.5 inch in diameter bowl is $18. It would be perfect just sitting on a desk or dresser, whether to look at or to catch life's tiniest treasures that you need a quick temporary home for.

And I love the quirkiness of this:

Caroline has these in her shop to mark spring, a season of "regeneration, rebirth, prosperity and hope." An egg is a pretty perfect symbol for all that, no? Plus, imagine the conversation a little ceramic egg would spark.


A few other sellers I could never pass up would be:
The Black Apple
Ashley G and Drew

And there's about a hundred more. I love Etsy.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Post Valentine's Day Post

I had a lovely, low key Valentine's Day this year.

The highlight? Aside from just getting to spend it with John, I'd say the top honors would have to go with the necklace John gave me. The pink sapphire and diamond white gold pendant is pictured above. I love it because it's unusual without looking over-the-top. Pretty, no? I'm a very basic jewelry kind of person, and John always does a great job in getting me beautiful, thoughtful things that I will definitely enjoy wearing.

The ball was dropped a bit on reservations. (Did anyone guess how quickly fine dining establishments would book up on a Valentine's Day that fell on Saturday? Well, obviously we didn't.) However, we got a reprieve with an unused reservation of my brother's, so we found ourselves at the Tuckahoe Inn for dinner. (If you're not from here and haven't heard of this restaurant before, I can assure you - those jokes are not new to me.)

It was a nice dinner, and we followed it up with some gambling in Atlantic City - not romantic, at all, really, but it was okay. (Our original plan was to eat dinner in A.C. and gamble anyway, so we decided to still go.) What was not okay, however, was us both losing money. John lost $20. I lost ... more than $20.

Our reservation for dinner was early, so even after our quick jaunt to A.C., we were home by 9:30. So what did we do?

Well, played Scrabble, of course!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Happy Birthday, Finn!

Cake for Finn's first birthday party was finished at 11 a.m. and left on the kitchen counter.

Now fast forward to 12:45 p.m. I am in the bathroom blowdrying my hair. My roommates are upstairs. My dog walks into the kitchen, no doubt pulled forward by the overwhelmingly sweet smell of sugar. (A pound of powdered sugar in the icing alone, to be exact.)

You can guess what happened, right?

In all fairness to myself, though, Piper knows not to do things like that. Has she done similar things before? Well, yes. But in general, I can leave plates of food in front of her black little nose with a stern warning as I go pour a glass of water in the kitchen, and while she'll soak the carpet at her feet from salivating, she won't even take a lick.

And since we were leaving momentarily - and since Piper hadn't touched the cake in the hour and a half it sat taunting her from a couple of feet above her head - I wasn't paying much attention. But then I noticed Piper wasn't staked out on the sixth stair on the staircase by the bathroom, which is where she always sits sentry while I am blowdrying my hair. (What can I say? She's a strange dog.)

That's when I turned off the blowdryer and called her name. Then I peeked around the corner into the kitchen to find a very happy dog licking the icing off of what was a very cute cake in record time. Her little tongue was going a mile a minute, and she didn't jump down until I was a foot from her, screaming like a banshee. And what did Piper do?

She slowly wagged her tail, licking orange frosting from her whiskers and staring at me in a stupor. I think the sugar coma was already setting in, and my yelling had no effect whatsoever.

Did I cry? Surprisingly, no. I almost did, especially when I called Stef and Bill to relay the news of their son's first birthday cake, and the response I got from both of them was laughter. It was not funny. At least not at that time. Fortunately, Stef just told me to cut off the Piper-piece and bring the cake anyway. (That's the photo above, actually - Piper certainly isn't that neat in her cake thievery.)

Oh, and then the jokes kept coming. I know of at least two who posed like this with the cake (this one is Stef):

And while everyone kept telling me how great the cake was, I couldn't help but inject dripping sarcasm into all of their compliments. I mean, seriously - when a cake is supposed to read "Happy 1st Birthday, Finn. Have a ball!" and it ends up reading "Happy 1st Birthday, Finn. Have a rall!" ... well, "rall" isn't even a word! How great could the cake be?

But when it was time for cake, we all sang, and Finn smiled and blew the candle out with Stef. He eyed up his piece of orange-iced cake and took a hesitant nibble before realizing that, yes, this tasted mighty good, and trying to shove the entire thing into his mouth at once.

It was Finn who changed my mind about the whole disaster. I mean, look at him.

Piper eating the cake? It really didn't matter, after all.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Grande skim latte, hold the coffee.

I haven't been to Starbucks in a while, so I treated myself today and ordered my usual - a grande skim latte.

I typically wait to start drinking for a few minutes because I can't take scalding hot coffee, so by the time I was back in my car and pulling away I took a sip and thought, "Hm. Tastes... wrong."

I took a bigger gulp at the red light around the corner and decided that, yes, they definitely forgot to put the espresso in my drink. What I had was a nice medium-sized cup of steamed milk with a packet of Sweet 'n Low mixed in. At this point, I wasn't turning around, but what a bummer.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It snowed tonight.

The flakes were so fine, they sparkled through the air. It didn't look like the snow was just falling from the sky. It looked like it was coming from all directions - from above, below, in front, behind... it looked like the air was full of a hundred million glittering specks. It looked like magic.

I stopped and stared for a few moments before I kept walking.

I could use a little magic.