Saturday, August 30, 2008

Etail & Retail Shopping Hiatus Update

It has been exactly one month since I have spent so much as a penny on bath & body products for myself. I began my No-Buy on July 30th in an effort to save more money to donate this quarter to The Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research in memory of my dad.

Has it been hard? At first, YES. After the first week, though, not much at all. In the interest of full disclosure, I did buy a shower mousse at Crabtree & Evelyn, but I used an existing gift card and still have money left on it :)

I have not opened my wallet or Paypal account, though, to buy something I do not need more of!
Bath and body products are definitely something I don't need more of.

So, have I been good otherwise? Yes and no. I've purchased some tea, handmade hair accessories, and some Scrabble tiles (to make pendants out of for fun) all over from my favorite Etsy sellers. I also shopped some Etsy shops to buy a couple of gifts for my friends, and placed a tart order (also a gift!) from Starring...!

The rest of my spending has been business-related and typical clothing, food, birthday gifts for Nick, etc.

I am thrilled that I didn't cave into temptation those first few days. I nearly caved the other day when I was ordering a few tarts for a friend--some of the new tarts scents at Starring...! look great. I emptied the items I was lemming from my cart and only ordered my friend's...

I received money for my birthday and normally I'd deposit the checks and promptly go shopping for something a bit frivolous. Not this year! I am proud of myself. I deposited the money into savings and will not touch it. I guess this little girl is growing up :)

So it's been since July 30th and I am now extending my bath and body NO BUY until September 30th...One month at a time!

Friday, August 29, 2008

The New Fashion Icon For Our Time


Michelle Obama's dress was perfect for her at the DNC last night
Reuters photo

8.28.08 daytime at Envesco Field (photo from Reuters)


Photo above from Vogue


City Girl Lifestyle's post today about Audrey Hepburn gave me an idea for one of my blog posts for the day. Every now and again a woman comes along who is truly the epitome of grace, beauty and style. We look back and think of Audrey Hepburn, Jackie O., Grace Kelly and Princess Diana.

All were women whose style was graceful, classic and full of elegance and poise. Their style has stood the test of time, and I look to many of them as fashion icons.

We have a new icon for our time: Michelle Obama.

I watched the Democratic National Convention the way my husband and his friends watch the Super Bowl (or the way I watched Game 7 of the ALCS and Aaron Boone won the game for the Yankees in fall 2003). The DNC had my blood pumping, a smile spread across my face, and a renewed sense of hope and admiration for this already passionate, very political person.

The DNC, for me, ranked right up there with sitting in the front row with my mom, hubby, and mother in law in 1999 watching Elton John perform just a few feet in front of us. It was even better than seeing James Blunt and Sheryl Crow a couple weeks ago--and I adore James Blunt! The DNC for me brought out the same fanfare as it did for Nick when we took him to see The Wiggles when he was 2. You get the idea. The DNC was like going to see Sex and the City on the big screen. The DNC was about bringing about hope and change, though, and that is what made it so great.

Barack Obama's speech last night will be remembered for decades to come (at least). It will be talked about when my grandchildren go to school. The presence of Hillary and Bill added even more to the wonderful dynamics. I am so excited about this election, if you cannot tell.

One thing that I was also watching from the convention was the fashion. I thought Hillary might wear something a bit more exciting than her coral pantsuit. Or at least I hoped she would...Chelsea's hair looked fabulous. Jill Biden is another beautiful woman and she looked terrific.

What stood out the most was Michelle Obama's sense of style, especially as we move closer to November. She may be refreshingly outspoken, but she is also a rising fashion icon.
Mrs. Obama was stunning last night. Her dress was a brilliant combination of colors for her, and her makeup was flawless. I found a wonderful picture of her in a navy dress at Envesco Field doing a walk through yesterday and I believe it is the best dress I have seen on her--it was such a classic, Jackie O.-inspired look.

I also find it refreshing that this classic beauty appears to be healthy, not a size 2, but a healthy "average" weight. I hope our children will stop striving to be thinner than toothpicks and realize that true beauty comes from within. I want the children of the future to see right before their eyes that size is not what constitutes beauty and likability--that one can be stunningly beautiful, have brains AND be a healthy size. It will be nice to have that element of brains AND style and beauty back at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the fall. Don't get me wrong. Laura Bush is an intelligent woman. I just happen to picture this particular First Lady wearing "mom jeans" with tapered legs and pleats when she's having a family weekend away at the ranch.

Michelle Obama is truly going to evolve even more into a 21st century fashion icon. More than that, her example of beauty is going to quite possibly change people's ideas of what truly makes a woman beautiful.

ETSY LOVE: My Shabby Cottage


Barkcloth Rose Handbag with Vintage Button




"The Hairclips Tidy"


Kathryn from Australia is the wonderfully sweet and friendly owner of My Shabby Cottage on Etsy.

You all know I love Shabby Chic style. I've said it several dozen times, and many of my shopping posts are about handmade and vintage shabby chic items (particularly handbags). When I typed in "shabby chic" in Etsy's search engine, I found some lovely items in this shop.

My Shabby Cottage offers handmade bags, small dolls, handbag-inspired doorstops, and something really cute called the Hairclips Tidy. I am thinking my 3 year old niece, Matilda, might like one of these for her room. I often give her decorate handmade clips from Etsy and this would be great! The Hairclips Tidy is unique--it looks like a piece of clothing, and is made out of beautiful fabrics. The one I have pictured is a Laura Ashley fabric and would be such a pretty gift for that special little girl in your life.

I have had that beautiful handbag in my Etsy Favorites list for several weeks now. It is gorgeous!

Kathryn is one of the friendliest Etsy sellers I have come across (and almost everyone I have ever met has been friendly). Head on over to My Shabby Cottage today and tell her The Chic & Green Blog sent you.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Attention Moms: Sale at Etsy's BECAUSE WE ARE until 9.1.08

A few weeks back, I did an ETSY LOVE piece on my friend Beth's shop called Because We Are.
Beth is having a sale right now on all tooth fairy pillows. They're 25% off until the 1st of September.
I bought Nicholas a dinosaur tooth fairy pillow and he loves it. Beth's craftsmanship is fantastic as well!

Need a baby gift? She now carries handmade crinkle blocks.

Mention The Chic & Green Blog and you will get 10% off your order!

ETSY LOVE: The Talented Shelley Kommers

By Shelley Kommers of Oiseaux Noir

Bookplates available at Oiseaux

Shelley Kommers, describes herself as "an artist-illustrator-designer-painter-gardener."

I think I will just call her talented.

Shelley has two quaint shops on Etsy: Oiseaux and Oiseaux Noir. For all of you non-Francophones, a "oiseaux" is a bird. This talented member of the Etsy community is a bird lover as well.

I first came across Oiseaux when I was doing some window shopping for potential gifts for Nick's upcoming birthday. Yes, Nick will be 5 one week from today! Bookplates are a wonderful gift idea, especially for children who love to read. Oiseaux offers several vintage designs from which to choose. All are of lovely pictures adapted from vintage children's stories.


You will also find a couple of other personalized gifts with a vintage flair for children at Oiseaux.


Shelley is also a talented artist. Her original artwork is offered at her other Etsy shop called Oiseaux Noir. She has several truly unique and beautiful mixed media collage pieces available. I really like the one I pictured above entitled "Maggie."

I believe we'll be seeing alot more of Shelley's work in the future! Check out her great Etsy shops today. Shelley is also a fellow blogger! Click the link to view her blog.

Coffee Week on Etsy Love Sneak Peek

I normally do a daily Etsy Love feature and had planned to do an Etsy Love on great coffee-themed items sold on Etsy for tomorrow's post.

Turns out there are so many fantastic coffee-themed products from soaps to actual coffee that I am going to devote all 5 days of Etsy Love beginning Monday to a shop per day with coffee-related items.

There are just so many great products to browse that I would like to devote a full post to each of my favorites.

A Look Ahead:

*An exquisite coffee company from Delaware
*Coffee Body Scrubs
*Coffee Soap
*MORE COFFEE LOVE

Horrible as it may be, I drink one pot of coffee per day. Coffee is my weakness. It is not so much the caffeine--I actually drink decaf a bulk of the time--it is the TASTE. In addition to the coffee I make at home, I have a daily coffee run to Tim Horton's for a medium Iced French Vanilla Coffee with Cream...right around noon. So you could say I love coffee and have been having lots of fun seeking out coffee themed items over on Etsy!

Could It Be Shower Bliss?



Crabtree & Evelyn has truly impressed me with their Naturals line. With the exception of the soaps, which contain palm oil, I adore nearly everything in this range.

When I was at the mall the other day I spotted their new Shower Mousse. I wanted to try immediately when I saw my favorite C & E scent in this formula. My favorite of the naturals scent is their Olive, Almond & Myrtle. This is a scent which reminds me of a comfort version of Gap Dream. I use this scent quite often in their Body Mist, which I tote with me in my handbag and also use to spritz as a scent mist in my mom-mobile.

I typically use cold-process soap in my shower. Aunt Nancy's Handmade Soaps fill my wooden soap box in the bathroom, and I use her soaps in rotation according to my mood. The only paraben-free, sulfate-free shower gel/body wash I really enjoyed was by an etail shop called Aloha Coconut, which is now closed. They just tend to be more drying than a well made cold process soap.

I decided to try the Naturals Shower Mousse for the first time this morning. The mousse evolved into a light shaving cream consistency and there was a nice light foamy lather. When I used to use shower washes from Bath and Body Works or Philosophy, I always began to itch in the shower due to sulfate-inducing dehydration and irritation. None of that here. This product contains a host of naturally nourishing ingredients. No sulfates. No parabens. No mineral oil. No nasties.

The olive oil in this really helped to soothe and protect my skin during the cleansing process. The scent is lingering ever so slightly 2.5 hours post shower.

Unlike using my Aunt Nancy's soaps, my skin was not moisturized enough to skip lotion or cream. My skin felt clean and nicely scented when I toweled off, but it felt like it needed more hydration. I applied my kzm Mediterranean Almond Creme immediately.

As neat of a concept this C & E product seemed when I purchased it, I would not buy it again. This, however, would be a great product for those with oily skin. If you have oily skin and would like a one step cleanse-nourish in the shower product, then I highly recommend this product! It truly could result in a blissful shower experience for you!

If the skin on your body is dry, skip it.

Photo from www.crabtreeandevelyn.com

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

DIY Wednesday: Making Fragrances 3 Ways


The Oils We're Using: Day Star "The Original Vanilla Bean" and "Hey, Sugar!" as well as Wholesale Supplies Plus Amazing Grace type


EDP Supplies: Perfumer's Alcohol, Bottle and Fragrance Oil



Sweet Almond Oil and Fragrance Oil for the Roll On



Now we have 3 new fragrances!



LET'S MAKE SOME PERFUME!

Making your own fragrances is one of the easiest things you can make once you have the right supplies.

With the wonderful companies out there providing the public with fragrance oils ranging from apple to marijuana (if that's what you'd like to smell like), the options are endless. Almost every fragrance oil supplier also makes "Designer Duplications". These are, in many cases, knock offs of designer and high end fragrances. Some smell identical. Some do not. You really have to buy the smallest bottle first, sample it, and then decide where to order from.

Many people ask "Why not just buy the real thing?"

This is a valid question. I know I prefer to buy fragrance oils to make designer duplications at home because I can then make matching hair care items, lotions, etc. with that oil and not have it full of parabens and other nasties. I also like the price--you can make several items from one small bottle of fragrance oil. Making perfume is also fun!

Here are my most favorite fragrance oil suppliers for body-safe scents (in no special order):

Day-Star Candle & Soap Supply
The Scent Works
Just Scent
Wholesale Supplies Plus
Sweet Cakes
Flickers Fragrances

Today we're going to make 3 types of fragrances: Eau de Parfum, Perfume Oil Roll On, and a Dry Oil Spray. I have chosen 3 fragrance favorites for this project: a duplication of the discontinued Bath and Body Works Vanilla Bean (not to be confused with the popular Vanilla Bean Noel), a duplication of the Bath and Body Works Hello, Sugar! fragrance, and a duplication of Philosophy Amazing Grace.


VANILLA BEAN EAU DE PARFUM

Let's start with VANILLA BEAN EAU DE PARFUM. There are many places on the internet from which to buy supplies. I get my perfume bottles at The Scent Works. I just like the classic square shaped bottle with silver cap. My fragrance oil for this is from Day-Star Candle & Soap Supply. They recently came out with a duplicate oil of my favorite vanilla scent that Bath and Body Works discontinued several years ago. Day-Star calls this one "The Original Vanilla."
I am so picky with my "dupe" oils and this one smells identical to the original once it has cured for a few days.

You'll need to choose your perfume base. I like Artisan's Alcohol from Snowdrift Farm. It is free of isopropyl alcohol. It is, in my view, the best alcohol to use for making perfume. That being said, I am all out of Artisan's Alcohol, so I am using Perfumer's Alcohol, which I am also nearly out of. Perfumer's Alcohol seems to be the most popular.

If you have pipettes handy, please use them. They will aid in adding your oils to any bottle with a narrow opening. If you don't, it is OK right now.


I am making a 1 ounce glass bottle of perfume. To do this, follow a simple ratio. I usually add 50% fragrance oil. 40% is fine for much stronger oils, but not most vanillas. Anymore than 50% is generally too harsh on the skin. With this vanilla, you need the full 50%, so my oil to alcohol ratio is 50/50.

Add your two ingredients to the glass bottle. Tightly close your cap and put the overcap on. You can shake this to blend, but I prefer to gently rock it back and forth like I do my nail polishes. Gently rock the bottle back and forth to blend a bit.

You have now made Eau de Parfum. Just remember to mark which scent you have put in, because once you make your first perfume, you will undoubtedly be making many more!

I find that Eau de Parfum can take at least a few days to "cure". Let the oil blend with the perfumer's alcohol and the scent will reach its full potential. I actually make my perfumes and put them in a dark, dry cabinet for 2 weeks and "forget" about them. When I take them out, they will smell much more delcious!


HEY, SUGAR PERFUME OIL ROLL ON

"Hey, Sugar!" is what Day-Star calls their version of Hello, Sugar! from Bath and Body Works. This is another fragrance oil from this supplier that smells just like the original.

I like perfume oils. Most times I wear oil blends made only with essential oils. Some days, though, I just want yummy bakery scents. I prefer perfume oils over their alcohol cousins because they're non-drying, they last along time on your skin, and they are the more natural alternative. I have about 30 roll on perfume oils that I have made just for me, let alone my other favorites from some of my etailer friends (I love Crater Lake Company's Touch Ups in the sweet almond oil base).

You can use any carrier oil in a perfume oil. I prefer jojoba oil or sweet almond oil. Jojoba oil has a very, very long shelf life. Either will work well and neither have a base smell of any kind like alcohol can. You can purchase these oils at your local natural foods store or in some large supermarkets. Online suppliers also carry these.

Today we're going to use a 0.33 ounce roll on glass bottle. You can buy some at Elements at a very affordable price. This is a fantastic bottle supplier as well.

Today we are using Sweet Almond Oil because that is what was the most handy. Add 50% sweet almond or other carrier oil to 50% fragrance oil. Push the roll on tip firmly and add the cap. Now you can roll/shake gently. Voila! Now you have your own Perfume Oil.

Dry Oil Spray

Dry oil sprays are fun because they add a silky sheen to the skin and you will glisten, plus you'll geta fairly long-lasting fragrance. I am making an Amazing Grace type fragrance in this one today. I have tried Amazing Grace type fragrance oils from many suppliers and the two that smell the closest and do not turn on my skin are from Wholesale Supplies Plus and The Scent Works.

For this you'll need cyclomethicone, which is a dry oil (a silicone). You can find many on the internet. Two reputable suppliers are Wholesale Supplies Plus and Jody's Soaps and Crafts.

There are several ways to make a dry oil spray. You can simply use cyclomethicone and fragrance oil if you'd like. Why not? I like using grapeseed oil in mine. Grapeseed adds moisture and will nourish a bit more, but is still non-greasy.

I am using a 2 ounce PET plastic bottle for this. I use a ratio of 50% cyclomethicone, 25% grapeseed oil and 25% fragrance oil. I am using the Amazing Grace Type fragrance oil from Wholesale Supplies Plus today.

First add the cyclomethicone.

Now add your grapeseed oil.

Add the fragrance.

Shake!

Now you've made your own Dry Oil Spray which is a nice all over body spray!



Now That You're Done

You now have your own perfume creations! You can get fancy and label them with pretty labels that you make or print out. You can decorate them, tie them with ribbon and give them as gifts. I just mark the scent on mine with scent labels because I remember what I have made for myself.

If you like blends, start experimenting. How about one of my favorite Vanilla Bean Noel blends which I call RICE FLOWER & SHEA NOEL? It is 40% Wholesale Supplies Plus Vanilla Bean Noel Type, 40% Scent-Works Rice Flower & Shea BBW type, and 20% Day Star Matin Calin Sugar Milk type.

The possibilities are endless!


A Look Ahead


In the coming weeks, we'll make a foaming sugar scrub, a salt glow body rub, and tinted lip glosses.

ETSY LOVE: Vintage Charm Fills This Shop!









I collect small and unique hair pins and bobbies. Anything unique and feminine will normally catch my eye. On weekends, you will typically find me with a small vintage hair pin holding my hair off to the side. As you know, I love to scout out Etsy for my accessories. I like handcrafted and vintage items that will be unique to me. I know there are so many pretty accessories at shops in the mall, but I just like something different that reflects my love of vintage and shabby chic. You just cannot find that at Target (although I do manage to find nearly anything else there).


I found a wonderful Etsy shop called My So Called Junky Life. The shop's owner, Sarah, finds special vintage pieces and makes them into lovely accessories. She also finds unique treasures to sell, such as the handwritten recipes I have pictured above.

The vintage rose hair bobby is so pretty and feminine. It is timeless, romantic and feminine. One could wear this in the summer or for Valentine's Day.



I also like the duo of blue vintage flower hair pins. They're lovely. They'd be a perfect vintage accessory for any occasion.


When you want a little extra "bling" for your hair, how about the hair pin I show at the top? I like the square shape and the stones will add some sparkle to your hair.


If you're looking for a shop with a super friendly owner, beautiful vintage finds and oodles of charm, click the link and hop right over to Sarah's shop! She also has a fun blog, so check that out as well.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

ETSY LOVE: Amie J Designs




I have had wonderful luck finding great handmade handbags on Etsy. While looking at what was out there, I came upon a lovely Amy Butler bag from amiejdesigns.


I have a couple of other handmade items with Amy Butler fabrics from this collection (Lotus) and know I love the chocolate brown with extra punches of color. This would be a great tote to go with jeans, with anything brown or cream, or just for your favorite weekend outfit. This bag is a Slouch Tote and can be seen in the top picture. $42

This lovely Canadian Etsy shop owner also has a Sale section and I found a really cute, reversible market bag. It's the pretty floral in the second picture and it reverses to a neutral solid. If you're like me and carry market bags when making your quick grocery runs rather than using plastic, then this is the perfect bag for such a trip. Why not have a sassy bag when you're picking up some more milk or eggs at the store? I would also carry this on weekends when shopping for sure! $28.

Head on over to Etsy and check out Amie's shop today!


Monday, August 25, 2008

The Quest for my Holy Grail Mascara is OVER!


I have been searching for the perfect mascara since I was old enough to wear it.

I have found so many "nearly perfect if..." mascaras, tried about 3 dozen completely dreadful mascaras and have just plugged along with some good ones.

Finding a paraben-free, phthalate-free and palm oil free mascara is HARD. Most "natural" mascaras, including L'Oreal Bare Naturale Mineral Mascara, still contain palm oil derivatives. If you're an animal lover and not up to date on why I think palm oil is bad, please see this post.


Last week when I was at Sephora , I came across Tarte Lash Hugger Eco-Friendly Mascara. It has everything I was looking for (or not looking for) on its ingredients list: no parabens, no phthalates, no mineral oil, no palm oil derivatives! With all of those requirements met on just the package, was it possible that this be a match made in cosmetics heaven?

Today is Day 6 using Lash Hugger. I am in love. I think it was love at first sight. It's everything I have searched for in a mascara. It really adds volume to my lashes. I have naturally long lashes, but they are pretty light and fine. Lash Hugger lengthens without looking artificial. I do my makeup by 6am. I don't take it off until 10 or 11pm. This lasts all day without flaking. It doesn't smudge. My eyes are very sensitive and can water easily. I also have allergies. This normally causes my mascara to get into my eyes when that happens and then my eyes get red and burn. Zero, zip, nada redness. This truly is mascara perfection.

I should also mention that this eco-friendly mascara comes in a recycled aluminum tube as well.

If Tarte ever discontinues this $18 gem, I am going to be lost without it. It is a truly phenomenal product. I honestly thought I'd have to keep settling for decent mascaras. Now I have found "the one." Check it out at Sephora today!

Photo from sephora.com

ETSY LOVE: Annie's Attic





Regular readers of my blog know that I have a weakness for handmade handbags made of Amy Butler fabrics. I love Amy Butler prints on my bags. I also love Shabby Chic, having accents of this style throughout my home and my life in general (stationery, mousepad, etc.). I also love to be in the kitchen cooking and baking.



I have found a great shop on Etsy that satisfies the three things I've listed above: Annie's Attic.


Lee Ann is the woman behind this great Etsy shop. She offers beautifully made handmade aprons. Her fabrics range from great Amy Butler prints to vintage roses. I found two gorgeous aprons in her shop. I am in love. My favorite is a half apron and is so lovely and feminine. It has beautiful roses all over it. The second one catching my eye is an Amy Butler full apron. I have this pattern in a handmade bag. I love the brown in it.



My mom gave me a red apron a few years ago. I use it every time I bake. I spill flour all over it each and every time I bake. I also have two of my late Aunt Marg's aprons. One is from the 1950s and is a gold and brown floral and is a full apron. The other is a half apron from the 1960s with a brown floral motif and a towel attached to it (how handy). I do not use these. Aunt Marg died in the late 1990s at the age of 87 and I just don't want anything to happen to the aprons.



Lea Ann's aprons are works of art. If you love to be in the kitchen as much as I do, I think you should treat yourself to a beautiful apron. You deserve it. It'll make you smile when you wear it. Not everyone loves to cook (or bake), but I am certain we all have someone in our lives who finds great pleasure preparing new recipes for friends and family. One of these aprons would be a great gift for that special someone. Buy one now and put it away for a birthday gift (hint, hint to my hubby who might know someone with a birthday TODAY who might like this :) I am just kidding. He and the boys already gave me their gifts...This would be great to put away for Christmas, or just as a special gift for yourself.



Check our Annie's Attic on Etsy today!

Lee Ann also has an Etsy shop devoted to handmade baby bibs. They are so pretty! If you're needing a gift for a baby shower, what a lovely idea one of these bibs would be!

Friday, August 22, 2008

My Love Affair With Vinegar

Vinegar is one of my favorite products. I've talked about how distilled white vinegar is one of my favorite household products with which to clean. I mix lemons, baking soda and the vinegar and that is my go to cleaner for so many surfaces in my house.


I have also made a skin toner for oily skin with apple cider vinegar, distilled water, lavender hydrosol and strawberry leaves. In very small, diluted amounts, ACV can work well on oily skin.
I emphasize DILUTED. Apple Cider Vinegar is very acidic. It will hurt paper cuts like a lemon will. I wouldn't, for example, ever use it on freshly shaved or broken skin either.



One of my favorite uses for vinegar is as a hair rinse. My new Herbal Infusion Rinse is made with unfiltered, raw organic apple cider vinegar, dried herbs and essential oils and will be available Monday in my Etsy shop. You can buy my rinse when it is for sale, or you can make a simplified version without steeping herbs for 5 days first today at home.




#1, you can use plain old apple cider vinegar like you may already have in your pantry. You do not have to buy the raw, unfiltered, organic kind. Both will work well, but the latter is better for a couple of different reasons.



The raw, unfiltered kind doesn't look the same your usual Apple Cider Vinegar. It looks cloudy and has little pieces of what is known as the "mother" in it. The "mother" is all of the goodness of the vinegar before it is filtered out and contains an abundance of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and phosphorous. Your hair needs these, particularly iron and potassium to be in tip top condition. This is why I choose the raw, unfiltered kind...even if it looks a bit cloudy.

Why would you use Apple Cider Vinegar in your hair?

I have used ACV as a rinse for a long time. Sometimes I only use a bit of shea butter as a bit of a natural texture balm in my hair...but more often than not, I use styling aids from the salon or drugstore. When I had a pixie, it was one thing. I have a layered bob and lots of texture and I need styling aids most days. I may not need to heat style it much at all these days thanks to being sulfate-free, but I won't give up my styling aids. The drawback is that most leave a build up. You can get a build up in your hair from environmental factors...from too many oils and waxes...so many different things. You can get a look of lifelessness and dullness from your shampoo as well.

Apple Cider Vinegar has a low pH. This is really something you need to "balance" your hair and scalp after using natural shampoos or shampoo bars. Because these bars and liquid shampoos from nature are generally much more alkaline than your chemical-rich bottles of shampoo from the drugstore, you might find it helpful to restore the pH with an ACV rinse.

Almost everyone can benefit from an ACV rinse. It will remove styling product residue, restore lustre and shine, take away any dulling film, and leave your hair with lots of bounce.

For your basic rinse, I like to make it with 1 part ACV to 8 parts water. I have seen some recipe call for 50/50 blends and that, in my opinion, is way too much vinegar.

Mix that together in a large drinking cup, bottle or bowl and it's ready! I wash my hair with my beer shampoo. I then follow with an ACV rinse and leave it on my hair while I finish my shower--anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes in my hair. Then I rinse with cool water.

I like to start slow with the ACV. If you don't have lots of buildup or if your hair is very dry, use it once a week.

I happen to use it 2-3 days a week. When I am swimming, using lots of styling aids, or it's humid and my hair just feels not at its best, I find I feel best using it more often. The same is true when I started transitioning from chemical-filled, silicone-rich products over a year ago--that's when I used the rinse the most. ACV alone cannot get rid of silicone buildup, though. This is when I recommend going out and buying the cheapest bottle of clarifying shampoo you can find. Think Suave. Use it. Lather up with those sulfates and try to rub away the 'cones. This will be the only time you hear me saying to run out and lather up with a sulfate-rich shampoo :)

After you've gotten rid of that buildup, start using a great shampoo free of SLS and other hard to pronounce chemicals. You do not need them! Use a gentle, natural shampoo, follow with ACV, a bit of conditioner every now and then, and in a couple weeks, you will love the results.

Weeks, you say?

Although I am sure there are some people who notice great changes in their hair immediately, most of us mere mortals are not so lucky. You will most likely say your hair feels a little coated or greasy or dirty...the shampoo is thin, there's not a nice lather, etc... It is OK. Stick with it. Use the ACV right off the bat. I promise...if you stick with it and get all the crapola out of your hair, you will be happy and your hair will look great!


I always find it amazing when you get such good results from using such an easily accessible, affordable household item. Like my yogurt cleanser or strawberry mask, an easy apple cider vinegar rince can really make your hair shine and look fresh and healthy.

One thing I am asked is if I use a separate conditioner--the answer is very rarely. When starting out with an ACV rinse, I would use a light silicone-free conditioner and then follow with an ACV rinse. You can find several silicone free conditioners at the drugstore.

If you love fragrance and want to support a great etailer, go over to Crater Lake Company and buy some of Sharonn's fantastic True Lustre Conditioner, which is both silicone and paraben-free. May I recommend Coconut Bavarois? It is divine!

I personally just use a bit of Monoi de Tahiti oil on the ends at night as my treatment for any dryness. If you have plain coconut oil, take some out and apply a very small amount on your ends and it'll be great!

Something else I am always asked is about the smell. Yes, apple cider vinegar smells. When it is diluted, it'll smell when you're using it on your hair. It'll still smell when it is wet. I find that the scent is gone by the time my hair is dry. By then, however, it has a yummy smelling hair mist in it anyway.

So if you're looking for something to do at home this weekend to pamper yourself on a budget, try the ACV rinse. Let me know how it works for you!

ETSY LOVE: The Wave Break



I am a chocoholic. I admit it. I like everything about chocolate from the scent to the texture. Of course, I enjoy the taste of chocolate immensely. Brownies have been my go to "comfort" dessert since I was a small child.


I told you about my friend Beth the other day. She is always tormenting me with links to decadent treats on Etsy. She was at it again and sent me a link to one of the brownies to drool over. As soon as I saw the scrumptious looking brownies at The Wave Break, I knew I had to feature them on Etsy Love.


The Wave Break is based in Idaho and is owned by two brothers. They choose only the finest of ingredients for their rich brownies, such as Callebaut Chocolate, Mexican Blue Cattle Truck Vanilla, Pendleton Flour, and real butter and eggs. While they certainly are not low fat/low cal/low carb, etc., they look like a perfect dessert splurge when you want to treat yourself!


They have so many delicious flavors from which to choose! The ones that caught my eye the most are the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, Chocolate Cappuccino, and German Chocolate brownies. They look heavenly. Brownies at The Wave Break are $11 for 4 large squares.


Check out The Wave Break today! The Wave Break also has a website. If you order before I do, email me and let me know how delicious they are!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

ETSY LOVE: Obama-mania!










I make no apologizes for my political views. I am a Democrat, but vote with my heart and mind after researching candidates and the issues for which they stand. I am not a strict "party line" voter. I have strayed before, especially in some local elections.

I truly believe this is the single most important presidential election we are going to face this November. I have long been a Hillary supporter. I think Hillary Clinton would have been an outstanding president. Alas, it was not to be at this time.

That being said, I am supporting Barack Obama 100% without a doubt. My brother in law, Zach, is in the Army. He served in Iraq for a year and returned in the fall of 2006. Just after Thanksgiving 2007, Zach was redeployed, this time for 15 months....my heart is on my sleeve when it comes to this, and my views and passions run deep on the subject. I am going to leave it at that since this is a shopping post :)

So, for all of you Obama supporters, have I got some swell items for you today!

All of the following items are on Etsy, of course!

Let's first start with some perfect outerwear for your left-winged pooch. At the Etsy shop, Warmwags, you can buy this adorable dog vest! I am sure it would make your poodle pretty as a peach or dashing on your dalmation. I know it will look adorable on any dog...although I am trying to envision convincing Cannon, my 85 pound German Shepherd, that he needs to wear a vest. He draws the line at bandanas. So if you're a dog owner and an Obama supporter, why don't you head on over to this upstate New York-based shop?


I spy something over at the Etsy shop that I just might have to buy for Nick (already a staunch Obama supporter and vocal in his views). It's an adorable baseball style tee with a handpainted Obama train. How cool is this? It is from Jen and Lucca, a LA-based Etsy shop. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Obama campaign. Another cool tidbit about this shop is that they have some really awesome handbags. One of their bags (check in the shop) was even spotted on actress Keri Russell. Now that is great!



I found an awesome tee for me! It is a cool black tee shirt for moms who support Obama. It is made with 100% organic cotton, which I like. The Etsy shop nina and tom is offering this top for $20. If you love black and white and pair fitted tees with everything, this is a must have for any Obama mama! More importantly, I am recommending this shop because they are committed to being eco-conscious and choose their supplies to go along with this. They are are green-friendly shop for sure!

How about a button? I think I'll pick up the one shown above today. It is from and is vintage cool but with a message. I like it! More buttons like this can be found at Remember Me Emily for only $2 each. She has some really neat buttons and if you love vintage like me, this is the shop for you! Check out her store today. In addition to her Obama buttons, she offers some really beautiful handmade greeting cards that you'll have to take a look at. Emily is helping out her local campaign headquarters as well by donating hundreds of her cool buttons.


Dry lips? I know you're out there...a lip balm collector and an Obama supporter! How about a tube of "Obalma"? Red, White and Blueberry is the flavor of the day and what a way to show your support. Everytime you take this tube out to apply it, your message will get across. This can be found at K & F Shops on Etsy. This all-natural lip balm is $3. The seller will donate 50 cents of each balm sale to the Obama campaign.


I also like the message on Outside of the Box's "Fauxbama Supporter" shirt. I totally agree. GET OUT THERE AND VOTE! If you're of voting age and you don't vote, you can't complain. It's awesome to be supportive of a candidate, but you need to vote for your candidate, no matter who you support. Pat and his wife Sarah of this Etsy shop also shared a picture with me from CNN. The shop owners and Obama supporters were pictured at a rally standing behind the Future First Lady. Apparently, Mrs. Obama even has one of their shirts now!

I'll stay on the lookout for more cool Obama gear on Etsy. I know there are many others...I just wanted to share some of my favorites today!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

DIY Wednesday: Strawberry Face Mask

You'll need 3 berries & the white of 1 egg




2 teaspoons of your favorite honey






Mix egg white into the honey





Stir in berries and blend until frothy




Today we're going to make a simple facial mask. This isn't a paste or a hardening clay mask. It's going to be a bit messy, but the results will be worth it!

Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits to use in skin care. Not only does the fruit of the berry contain more vitamin C than oranges, the leaves alone contain 4 times as much vitamin C! Strawberries also contain salicylic acid, also know as beta hydroxy acid, which is oil-soluble, meaning it can penetrate into the pores and help "de-gunk".


I have found 2 completely natural treatments for my own KP. Your results may vary. I use coconut oil (virgin 76 degree) every single night on my arms faithfully. Coconut oil has been used for many years to naturally treat various skin conditions, and it truly has helped my Keratosis Pilaris. With the coconut oil, I also used the recipe I am going to share with you today. The salicylic acid from the berries helps, in my case, to treat the Keratosis Pilaris naturally. Again, I am not a doctor and your results may not be the same as mine.

I use this messy mask often. I have battled Keratosis Pilaris (those pesky little red bumps on the backs of the arms for me...on arms, legs and other areas for many as well) for more than 10 years. KP is caused by the skin producing too much keratin, which ten traps the hair follciles in the pores. Even though KP is a harmless condition, I know from my own experience that it can cause self esteem issues. Before I had my KP under control I wouldn't wear sleeveless shirts. Sometimes I would be asked, "Did you know you have a rash on the back of your arms?"



I went to my dermatologist years back who told me to apply Am Lactin or Lac Hydrin. Neither worked well and smelled heavily of ammonia. She advised me to avoid mechanical scrubs, as they would only further aggravate the problem and cause scratching and bleeding. This was very true in my case. Once I stopped trying to scrub away a skin problem that cannot be scrubbed away, the redness did tame a bit.


I found great help in Paula Begoun's 2% BHA and her AHA products. When used together faithfully, my keratosis pilaris diminished by about 80% in a couple of months. While I am thankful to have found relief, I am not crazy about the ingredients in either product. Both contain potentially irritating ingredients and parabens and are full of silicones.


Stopping my Paula's Choice regimen was hard because that meant I had to find other avenues of treating a skin condition that never really is cured if you stop treating it.

So let's make my messy berry mask! Please note that it is a very thin and frothy mixture. Many recipes are more like a paste because they contain cornstarch or baking soda. I find that neither are necessary and can be a bit harsh on your skin. Even though it's a bit messy, it is very effective!



You will need the following ingredients:


*3 medium sized strawberries (rinsed)
*1 egg white
*2 teaspoons of your favorite honey


Step 1: Put your honey in a bowl. Add the egg white and mix it with the honey.


Step 2: Mash strawberries with a fork or chop in your food processor. I also add the leaves for added vitamin C. Mixture will appear slightly frothy.


Step 3: Since this is so messy, I brush the mixture on to my skin. Leave on 15 minutes and rinse with warm water.


The mask works especially well on oily skin. I use it on my face a couple of times a week in the summer when my skin is more on the oily side. As I said earlier, I use this faithfully several times a week on my KP and use it in conjunction with coconut oil. I never scrub the area, and I follow with a fragrance-free goat's milk lotion, because I find that the natural lactic acid in the milk also helps! You need to keep up with this on a regular basis, as Keratosis Pilaris is a chronic condition.

ETSY LOVE: A New Twist in Peridot and Other Pretty Jewels



I have an August birthday (Monday, yay!) and Peridot is my birthstone. When I was little, my friends were receiving pretty, dainty little ruby or amethyst necklaces and I was jealous. I hated the green. Emerald was fine, but I was never fond of peridot.

Over the past several years, I have embraced the color of my birthstone. It makes a great accent when I wear turquoise, navy or black. It goes fairly well with my skin tone..more so in the summer when I use self tanner. In the winter, peridot makes my skin look slightly jaundiced.

I was browsing peridot jewelry on Etsy yesterday and came across a very lovely pendant from A.N. Original Jewelry . It features two other stones: amethyst and prehnite. The effect is stunning. I could see myself wearing this one much more frequently than any other peridot piece I own. I also like that the piece is silver as opposed to yellow gold, because my skin is so cool that I never, ever wear yellow gold. I really am liking this!

The woman behind the business is Ashley, a talented jewelry designer (she has a degree in jewelry design from Fashion Institute of Technology). The passion for her field is evident in her work. She has some very unique pieces in her shop ranging from sterling silver and brass to gold.

You're bound to find a piece you like in her shop. I am really liking the other pictured piece--the chunkykelly green chalk turquoise necklace! I would wear this with my black 3/4 sleeve boatneck top and I'd wear it often.

Ashley also has a SALE going on right now. Check out A.N. Original today!

DIY Wednesday Debuts Later Today!

I planned to have written this one in advance and have it ready to be posted, however time ran out on me yesterday.

Beginning today, I will have a weekly Wednesday DIY Wednesday feature.

Each week I will pick a bath & body or facial product which is great for your skin and relatively easy to make at home. I'll provide detailed steps and pictures as well.

Today's DIY will be a wonderful Strawberry Facial Mask. I use this 2 times per week on my own skin and it is full of vitamins and natural salicylic acid. This is a summertime must have!

I will get it posted before the end of the day!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

ETSY LOVE: Whimsy & Spice



My friend Beth and I live several hundred miles apart. She lives in Michigan and I am in upstate NY. We are great friends, having met online quite some time ago on a message board for moms. We have so much in common--we both have two kids, run Etsy shops, and love various forms of crafting. Something else we share is a love for all things sweet and decadent.

We like to tease each other by posting links to delicious looking confections. She sent me a link the other day for a tea shop on Etsy and I began browsing other teas...I ordered some tea, thanks to Beth. She emails me links to so many yummy looking things, and I am left drooling, almost tasting the decadence.

Take the other day, for example. Beth sent me a link to some scrumptious looking homemade marshmallows at an Etsy shop called Whimsy & Spice.

I love homemade marshmallows. Last Christmas I made peppermint marshmallows, vanilla bean marshmallows and cocoa marshmallows drizzled with homemade fudge sauce. They were delicious, but a sticky mess to make. I appreciate the work that goes into making such divine looking and tasting confections.

After Beth sent me the link to this Etsy shop, I did some more window shopping. Chocolate Chili Biscotti, anyone? I know that would be heavenly. I have loved this unusual combination ever since I tried "Spicy Mocha" from the Giada De Laurentiis show Everyday Italian on Food Network.

At Whimsy & Spice, you are getting your confections from a licensed bakery based in Brooklyn, which not all sellers of food items on the net are. Jenna's Etsy shop also features cookies and some really fabulous looking espresso brownies which I am pondering ordering at this moment. Everything looks so wonderful that I bet it'd be hard to order just one confection!

Check out Whimsy & Spice today!

Monday, August 18, 2008

kzm Product News and Previews

One week from today to celebrate my birthday, I am launching a couple of new products which have been in the process of being created and tested for several months.


Get Your Shine On!

Honey Brew Shampoo is ready to debut. HBS is a blend of goat's milk, saponified olive oil, castor oil and soybean oil. Lemon juice as well as aloe vera juice are present. The key ingredient in my favorite honey lager, which is Rochester's Honey Brown beer.

This shampoo lathers gently, and the aloe vera soothes the scalp. The lemon juice (in small quantities only so it is not too acidic) brightens the hair. The natural proteins from the goat's milk helps to build strength in your locks without weighing them down. The #1 ingredient, the beer, adds incredible volume and shine. If your hair could talk, it would thank you.

This will quickly become your favorite daily shampoo. Once I found the perfect mix of ingredients (after so many not so perfect attempts), I stopped using all other shampoos (even my own). I have one bottle of shampoo in my shower now. What I am so happy about it the fact that it does not strip my hair color. I add highlights in the summer and have both highlights and lowlights in the cooler months. My color hasn't faded and, several weeks later (even with swimming), my highlights are shiny and bright.


To go along with this, I introduce my Herbal Infusion Rinse. The herbal infusion is essentially an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse, which has been infused with natural dried herbs. Then I customize it to go along more with your own hair color. Chamomile and lemon are added for blondes and my other fair-haired friends. I add more lavender & rosemary to the blend for deeper hued ladies and gents.

This formula is very concentrated. You mix it with water and your bottle with last a good long time. I like to mix 8 parts water to one part AVC infusion. What will this do? It will remove buildup from styling product buildup and too much sebum. It is great for those suffering from dandruff. It restores the pH as well. Your hair will be at its shiniest and have restored health and luster.


A leave in hair treatment (with Monoi de Tahiti oil) isalso part of the lineup.

SALE!


To go along with the new Brew line, I will be having a one day storewide sale! Save the date for Monday, August 25th! Many items will be on sale for 25% off!


Going Even More Natural!

Beginning August 25th, all products made with synthetic fragrance oils, with the exception of new Ambiance Room & Linen Mist, will be phased out. Even though I only use phthalate-free fragrance oils, I firmly believe that in the coming months and years that science will discover more and more about negatives concerning synthetic fragrances. I know, personally, that fragrance oils can cause or aggravate headaches, allergies, and even asthma when inhaled in large quantities. Perhaps this happens more frequently to people who work with them day in and day out. Perhaps not.

I know this "stinks" to some of you. My hair & body mist is one of my best-selling items. That being said, I vehemently believe that essential oils and absolutes, when diluted properly, are the healthier alternative when it comes to great scents. For lovers of "foody" scents , I have some wonderful new blends made with absolutes to offer you with vanilla and cocoa absolute, as well as almond essential oil.

My new room and linen mist will be available, however, in several rotating seasonal scents. My fall scents will be launched next week, so your home can smell heavenly!

More Options

My Facial Cleansing Oil will be available now in a complete personalized formula just for you. Currently made with jojoba oil, castor oil, olive oil and argan oil, your oil will be made for you from your choice of 12 oils after we consult about your skin's needs. As much as I adore my 5 oil blend, not all skin is the same. Some people do better with rice bran or hemp seed. We'll discuss your skin's behavior and I will make a blend perfect for your skin.


You will soon find more options concerning serums. I offer a wonderful Jojoba Facial Serum. This works beautifully for most skin types. I will be offering a 100% customized all-natural treatment serum. We'll talk about your skin and I'll choose an appropriate oil or oil blend and then add the right essential oils for your skin in order to give you the most effective
treatment.

Product pricing will be $6 for the customized facial cleansing oil and $9.75 for the serums.

Thanks for reading my updates, and don't forget about my great sale on August 25th!
I'm also offering a special deal for Chic and Green Blog readers. Mention my blog in the Etsy checkout notes and you'll get a great free gift with purchase!

ETSY LOVE: Definitely My Cup of Tea!


Tea For All Reasons is a new to me Etsy shop featuring handcrafted tea. It is owned by the lovely Marsha. I adore high-quality tea, having tried several online, such as Adagio and SBS Teas (the latter being my favorite of the two).

I placed an order for 3 small bags of tea, choosing Chocolate Kisses, Pecan Pie, and Almond Cookie.

I ordered late Thursday afternoon and it was in my mailbox around 10 o'clock this morning. That's fast!

My tea order arrived in gold tissue within the box and included two sample mini bags (enough to make 1 small pot of tea).

I have only had time to try one of the teas--the Chocolate Kisses. It is delicious! I actually brewed a pot and tried one hot cup. It is a rich, full-bodied chocolate with lots of warmth to it and a hint of sweetness. It is wonderful! The rest of the pot is chilling in my fridge, with a vanilla bean and some cinnamon to make a nice rich iced tea. I cannot wait to try it when it's chilled enough.

I will be trying my other teas from Marsha soon. A great selection of teas (rooibos, black and green among them) is dozens of flavors can be found at Tea For All Reasons.

I enjoyed wonderful customer service with an equally wonderful order of teas! Each bag of tea was $4. A closeout section of $2 items and several larger packages are also found in her shop.

I also want to mention the Tea For All Reasons Tickled Pink for the Cure tea sampler tin for $12, which has a portion of it being donated to breast cancer research. It looks like a great gift, in a great almond and fruit blend with adorable pink ribbons in the mix. Check it out today!


Saturday, August 16, 2008

And the winner is....

Mary J. of Mississippi is the lucky winner of The Eyes Have It Giveaway! Mary won a new full sized Eye Serum & Eye Balm. Look for a new giveaway in September! Congratulations, Mary.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Eyes Have It Giveaway Ends Today!



In case you missed it:

From Friday, August 1st through Friday, August 15th I will accept entries (enter by email: kzmFACE@gmail.com) for readers to win a small gift set containing 2 of my products from kzm Facial Care Boutique: a full-sized AVOCADO, LAVENDER & SHEA EYE BALM and a full-sized VITAMIN E & CARROT SEED EYE SERUM. Both are 100% natural products made with the purest ingredients.


I will pick my winner late tonight or early tomorrow morning. We have lots of entrants. Good luck to Everyone!

ETSY LOVE: For Your Chic & Green Pooch


While searching for something Amy Butler for Cannon (yes, my 85 pound German Shepherd should look handsome, LOL), I came across a wonderful shop on Etsy devoted to making your pooch look smashing.

Mimi Green features handmade collars and leashes for dogs of all sizes. Cannon has a BIG neck. I'm sure it's bigger than my husband's by about 4 or 5 inches. My pooch has a kelly green and white polka dotted collar from Target, but I am thinking that I might buy him a spiffy new collar handmade out of some great Amy Butler fabric from Mimi Green next week to celebrate. You see, on August 18th, we will have had Master Cannon for one year! That's when we adopted him from Lollypop Farm, our local Humane Society.

Mimi Green also has a dot com site, and it looks as though she has a coupon code listed on the front page. Check it out.

If you're tired of the typical nylon or clunky leather collars on the market, check Mimi Green out today!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

ETSY LOVE: Because We Are



Because We Are is an Etsy shop owned by Beth Rienstra of Michigan. Beth has a passion for sewing and makes wonderful items such as personalized tote bags, tooth fairy pillows, and more.

Beth actually made some wonderful green and pink bags for me when I had a Mother's Day gift set on my old dot com site before I returned to Etsy in May, and the quality and attention to detail was superb. When she returned to Etsy this summer, I knew I had to have some more of her things.

My son Nicholas is nearly 5. While he hasn't lost any baby teeth yet, I know that the day will arrive in the not so distant future. He loves anything and everything with a dinosaur theme and has since the age of 2, so when I saw the dinosaur tooth pillow, I knew I had to buy it. It was $8.

I also purchased something from Because We Are for Benjamin, who recently turned 3. Now Benjamin has this big fleece Winnie the Pooh blanket that he takes everywhere. Everywhere. If (and when, as it happens often) Ben spills something on his blankie or for weekly washing of his bed linens, he has a meltdown for the couple of hours that "Blankie" is gone. I don't know about you, but I'm not crazy about toting a fleece Pooh blanket around in my handbag. It doesn't fit.

Beth has something in her great little shop called Taggies. Taggies are soft and cuddly squares that are like a small blankie with tags. The tags all around are great because Ben is very sensory-oriented and he loves to touch things. He is sitting on the porch snuggling the Taggie and putting his fingers through the days as I write this. This Taggie will fit in Mommy's handbag AND be a comfort for Ben. The damage? Only $4.

If you're looking for a gift or just a little something for a special child in your life, stop by Because We Are today!

By the way, Beth enclosed a thank you note with her beautiful photography on the cover. I think she has another talent she should be sharing with Etsy and start offering some of her photography as well.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Your Product Bottles: Plastic or Glass?

In late September to early October, along with cool company news to be released in another few weeks, will be when I come out with new packaging, labels with my soon to be decided upon logo, etc.

I love my cobalt bottles. I like the blue...as well as the amber I sometimes use as well. I have long been pondering changing over to glass bottles. I would obviously not do this for in-shower items, but it makes sense in terms of the environmental impact with my facial care items.

I would choose cobalt once again (or perhaps amber...it will depend on my new logo) in the glass. Essentially the bottles you see now on Etsy in my shop would look the same but be in glass.

It would cost me almost twice as much to buy glass bottles. I would not order as many at a time as I do now in the plastic. I am careful about the plastics I choose. My local customers often return their containers for refills, and this works well locally. Doing so over the net wouldn't be nearly as easy. I do what I can choosing ingredients for my products, and I recycle like crazy at home...I just think I could do more in terms of the bottles I choose.

Would you be turned off by the glass if it didn't trigger a major price increase? Would you continue to order your facial care products if they came in a glass jar or bottle (my serum has always been in a dark glass jar to protect it from light)?

I would love to hear from you. Leave me a comment or shoot me off an email: kzmFACE@gmail.com

ETSY LOVE: Stencil Studio



Today's item for Etsy Love is a sweet & shabby sign from Stencil Studio.

I came across this a few nights back and thought it'd be perfect for my kitchen. What is great about Stencil Studio, aside from the pretty wooden signs and stellar customer service, is the fact that they will paint the sign any way you'd like.

She's painting mine with a very soft muted lavender and white wash over it. I can't wait to get this and hang it in my kitchen! Never fear, Stencil Studio has several signs from which to choose, so if you're a cupcake lover you can get one too. I am now window shopping in her store, adoring the Patisserie and other cupcake signs...

$12

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wanted: The Perfect Logo

I know I have some graphic designers who regularly read this blog, both professional and those who do it for fun.

I am looking for the "perfect" logo to represent not just my products, but to accurately reflect ME.

I have been through a few logos in the past couple of years...3 with my skin care line. The one now is the one I am most happy with, but I am in need of something that encompasses the line and my personal tastes. I wish I could just tell someone what I love in terms of decorating, what makes me happy, etc., and have that translated to the perfect logo to last for years to come.

I am going to be buying a laser printer and have a major overhaul in the fall to coincide with an upcoming exciting business announcement (my close friends and family know what is coming in a few weeks).

The balance in doing this is my personal displeasure in spending big bucks on packaging and fancy-schmancy labels because this, combined with the increasing cost of ingredients, would result in a substantial price increase. I have long been a believer that pretty labels/upscale packaging doesn't equate to superior products. For example, you've all heard me rave about Cleanse Your Soul's Creamy Oil. This is a superior product with very basic packaging. I'll take the great product any day. Conversely, I have tried many a high end product with hoity-toity packaging and horrible ingredients.

So to accommodate my desire for new labels that match my company and ME as a person with likes and dislikes, I am going to bite the bullet and try to do it myself on a good printer with someone to design my logo who listens to me and "gets" what I want. Doing it this way is going to allow me to keep my prices stable. In fact, I have no plans to increase prices in 2008. In January, I will need to raise them ever so slightly to accommodate the rising costs of nearly everything...but it will only be nominal, around 10%.

Here is what I love--I love all things shabby chic. I love mixing florals. I love yellow roses. I love purple violets and purple & yellow pansies...cottage chic...I like primitives, but only as small accents to my shabby chic adoration. I am not a fan of modern. Love to wear black and white...on my logo, not so much.

I like vintage scenes...

Let's see....I love pretty bone china with cabbage roses. I like black and white enamelware with unexpected colorful accents placed in these pieces. I want my logo to be feminine, very classic and last for years to come. If you think you might be there one to do this for me after getting to know some of my personal tastes, let me know!

I will be using this logo on product labels, stationery, possibly on recycled paper bags and tissue paper. I will also use it on business cards, ingredients listings and brochures. If you make banners, this will go on my banner for my store and for a regular site (if I decide to do ETSY and a dot.com again together...I don't think I'll ever leave Etsy).

If you know someone who would be interested in this small job, please send them my way.

This evening I am going to post some pictures of my favorite things and see if you can envision my perfect logo based on things I love :)

My 100th Post!

I blog much more often than I used to. This morning's post about our weekend away was post #100. How exciting!

Live Simply, Laugh Often, Love Much

I have a sign on my porch when you walk in with this exact phrase. I have always liked the meaning behind it, and try to live by this, especially the "Love much" part.

Over the weekend, Tom and I went to a beautiful bed and breakfast in Mumford, New York, which about 35 minutes away. We went away so we could enjoy some time together as Tom and Karley the couple.

You see, 99.9% of time we're Tom and Karley working, raising two young boys, answering phones and ringing doorbells, making and delivering local orders, doing the Etsy thing, walking a barking dog, going to Wegmans....you know what I mean--life's daily events when you're a married couple with an almost 5 year old, a 3 year old and an 85 pound dog.

Do not get me wrong. We love our life. We love our boys more than anything in this world. I love that I can stay at home with them and also do something I enjoy on the side. I love that Tom has a wonderful career with a great deal of flexibility, where he can attend preschool events and pediatrician appointments and work from home a good part of the time. I love the life we have created and that we focus our lives around our family. We eat dinner together as a family 7 nights a week, whether it be at home or on a picnic, at a restaurant or with our neighbors on a Friday. That is just our family policy.

By the time our day to day tasks are over and the boys have finally fallen asleep, we're both tired. I usually do some work and then Tom and I will watch the Yankees play before we head to bed around 11.

Our time just being together without a time schedule seems rare. This is one reason we went away without the boys. First of all, Nick and Ben had a blast and were angels the whole time we were gone. Even though it was just for a weekend, it's one weekend that taught us so much.

Other moms, if you are reading this, take note:

First of all, it is OK to leave the kids. It is OK to go away and be "selfish" and spent time as a couple with the one you love. It is OK to go away to a lovely place to, in a way, remember who you are and remember quite quickly all the reasons you fell in love with your mate in the first place. GO. It is just a weekend and it will do you wonders.

Deborah and Richard Stankevich are the innkeepers of the Genesee Country Inn. Let me first say that Deborah is the epitome of a B & B owner. Did you ever walk into a home and just gets a sense that the home was loved and well-cared for and that, in return, the homeowner was taken care of and loved by home itself? This would describe the relationship shared between Deborah and her lovely B & B. The home is so loved, well cared for, and brought back to all of its splendor. Deborah and Richard put so much love and sweat equity into the beautiful inn and you can sense the love and warmth the moment you step through the door.

We hadn't been to a B & B since we were married at Claudia's Manor in Savannah. Sadly, Claudia and Larry Collins closed their inn, but it was a lovely, warm place. I've always loved B & Bs. The first one I stayed in was while visiting my brother at Princeton University, and it is called The Peacock Inn. Other B & B stays when I was younger were in Eureka Springs, Arkansas when my father was working in Missouri, and a B & B in Lawrence when I toured the University of Kansas. A large chain cannot beat the warmth and charm of a good B & B. There are several inns in the Rochester area from which to choose. This one was chosen because it was close, yet far enough away from home, and because it seemed so inviting.


We walked in and were immediately pleased. Not only is the large cobblestone home gorgeous, it is on a beautiful property with lots of walking and pretty scenery. Every detail of the decorating inside was exquisite. The room we stayed in, The Garbutt, was very lovely. We opened the door and I was greeted with a bouquet of 25 yellow roses. We had 5 large windows in our room and had views in 2 directions. I enjoyed looking out at the bright and cheerful Cosmos, as well as the lovely pots of flowers Deborah planted.

Deborah was welcoming, and the love for her inn radiated with every word she spoke. I believe it is a gift to have a "job" that doesn't feel like a job, something you look forward to every single day and have invested in with your heart and soul. This is the impression I got after spending time conversing with Deborah. She truly has a passion for what she does, and that is why she is so good at every single detail.

Just after we set our bags in the room, Deborah brought out a pitcher of her freshly brewed iced tea. She had a jar of her homemade Ghiradelli chocolate cookies (with chocolate shavings rather than chips) and it only took me a few hours to nearly empty her jar...which was refilled very early in the morning. We spoke about her use of local vendors for coffee and the local honey from another tiny town called Nunda. It was as though we had known Deborah and her husband for quite some time, because they were easy to talk to and so warm and welcoming.

Deborah's breakfast was heavenly. I cannot even narrow down my favorites. Perhaps the oven-baked pancake with homemade apple cider syrup...or the different quiches...or the different types of bread, everything made with love and from scratch. Everything was just perfect. We even got to meet Alison Arngrim, the actress who played "Nellie Oleson" on Little House on the Prairie, as she was a guest at the inn and happened to be there for the weekend at the Genesee Country Village as a special guest. As a child who watched Little House every Monday night at 8pm until it went off the air, this was a real treat for me to meet her.

Aside from meeting some great people and staying in an absolutely beautiful inn, the best part was the time spent with Tom. The sign on my porch describes our weekend perfectly. Everything was simple, as we didn't have to follow any kind of schedule. We took a quiet walk listening to the water. We walked far enough to peer out over a creek to see cows in the distance. It was so peaceful and serene. We took a walk down 2 blocks to a quaint primitive and antiques shop. We drove with the windows down to dinner singing and laughing as though we were back in our college days.

We were carefree, without plans or details to iron out or something to pick up at our third trip of the day at Wegmans. We talked for hours on end, laughed together even more than we normally do, and fell even more in love than we already were.

There is something to be said for living simply, laughing often, and loving much. Not much on earth is better...Our weekend could not be beat....at least not until we walked back in the door Sunday at noon with our boys yelling "Mommy!" "Daddy!" with big smiles on their happy faces.

We all had such a great weekend that we already reserved our room in late December for our anniversary and if we have a chance, we'd like to head back in October.