Friday Featured Favorites: Wicker and Wonderful

I… love… baskets. I don’t know what it is about baskets that makes them so appealing to me, they’re just fun!

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So naturally I was pleased to find the Etsy shop JGBaskets, with a wonderful variety of baskets. And when I say variety, I mean Variety!

The basket on the left is a mail basket. She also has stair baskets, bread baskets, napkin baskets and wall baskets (all of which are worth looking at!)

Jan, the owner of the shop, got started about 28 years ago, when she decided to get a kit and make herself a basket. Apparently, her first basket wasn’t a roaring success, but she kept at it until, as you can see, she got fantastic results!

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Besides selling on Etsy, Jan sells her baskets at art shows. As well as weaving, she’s tried her hand at cross stitch, macramé, quilting, crochet and rug hooking. What really impresses me is that she runs her Etsy shop on the side, and works as a surgical technologist and surgical assistant during the day.

I really enjoyed featuring this shop today. I kept running into it, and seeing different, fun baskets every time. I love the simple, beautiful look and I look forward to coming back to see what else she has. By the way, she has some really fun Easter baskets you have to check out!

Once again, the shop is JGBaskets.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Sarah

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Chocolate – and the pleasures of life

I like chocolate in just about any form… candy bars, white chocolate, hot cocoa, ice cream, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, semi sweet, cocoa, Nutella, cake, cookies, cocoa nibs… the list is endless!

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It’s really, really easy for me to just keep eating/munching/sipping on chocolate. Admittedly, when you’ve had enough, you’ve had enough, like with super rich, amazing hot cocoa.

It helps that chocolate, especially the darker it gets, is actually good for you! I don’t feel as guilty munching on it then.

Which brings me to something I’ve slowly come to realize… even when food is good for you, you don’t need to pig out on it!

This is something I’ve come to realize from reading French Women Don’t Get Fat, by Mireille Guiliano. She points out that you don’t need to have lots of something to enjoy it, and often your treat tastes best in the first few bites.

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What sparked the idea for this blog post was a bag of dark chocolate chips on the table, which I naturally took advantage of by putting some chocolate chips in a little cup and munching on them while I worked on a few things in the kitchen. What’s strange is that, practically from the beginning, I planned on getting a second helping before leaving the room. I was nearly done with my first batch, when I suddenly realized I didn’t really feel like having anymore! Naturally, I wanted more, but I had had enough.

I have fallen into the bad habit of thinking I need more to really be satisfied… and that chocolate, or something else, is the only thing that will satisfy me. As Hannah and I realized recently, and laughed over for about 10 minutes, was that we fall into the habit of saying the extra collection we get of some treat (weather it’s chips, chocolate or fruit) is our treat, and all the rest of the munching didn’t really count!

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Food is a good thing – well, most of the time. And there is nothing wrong with eating! As I have mentioned before, cooking makes me happy… food makes me happy!

But one problem I realize I’ve had is relying on food to make me happy.

I have just as much, if not more sometimes, pleasure in the company of friends and family, or the early blossoms of March, or a nice cup of tea, or finishing Northanger Abbey, or taking a walk, or loving my dog, or listening/playing music. I don’t need food, even chocolate, to make any of those things better than they already are.

What about you? What are some of your favorite simple, awesome pleasures? I’d love to hear about them!

Hope everyone continues to have a great week!

Sarah

 

Favorites of the Week

I’ve been having fun finding fun things on Etsy, so I thought I’d feature one of my favorites of my favorites from every day of the week (I hope that sentence made sense)

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Monday

I keep seeing needle felting things that are absolutely wonderful. But to the left is a wonderful pink lamby that I totally fell in love with.

You can find this lamb, along with cute little bunnies, cats and dogs on the Etsy shop:

FeltTale. Check it out, it’s so much fun!

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Tuesday –

This wonderful, beautiful bird can be found on the Etsy shop:

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You can find a variety of things on this shop, including more birds and animals, flowers and scenes, fruit and figures.

It’s a lot of fun to look at, and the beautiful bird on the left is just the beginning! It’s definitely worth taking a look!

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Wednesday –

Another thing I noticed I’ve been liking a lot on Etsy, and I’d love to have, is pressed flowers or dried flowers. And the gorgeous necklace on the left is one of my favorites!

You can find this on the Etsy shop:

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I loved looking at this shop because there always seems to be something new and beautiful, and you even get to choose what color you want in some cases!

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And then there are these absolutely wonderful Pysanka eggs! Seriously, you have to check out this shop because it is so amazing!

You can find these etched chicken eggs on the Etsy shop:

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I might even have to contact the shop owner and find out if they do quail eggs, because those are so cute!

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Friday –

What I’ve discovered about Etsy is that it wouldn’t be Etsy without some wonderful vintage shops.

To the left are some beautiful vintage tins, with lovely flowers on them. We have a collection of tins (somewhere) but I just love these! You can find them, among many more beautiful vintage items, on the shop:

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il_570xn-915897127_67lvSaturday (because I just wanted to feature this item)

I’ve also slowly realized I like bike things. Bike scarves, bike paintings, and then there’s this bike pillow. I love it! It even has birds!

You can find this – one among many fun and unique pillows for any style – on the shop:

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You have to take a look at these shops! They are all, individually, unique and fun. Looking back at them, they supply a great look at all the shops you can find on Etsy, from vintage to handmade and completely original. I had a lot of fun putting together this blog post.

And I hope everyone had a great week – and more importantly, will have a great weekend!

See you next week!

Sarah

 

Friday Featured Favorites: Designs by Diane

The shop I’ll be featuring today, DianesDesignsbyDiane, I discovered through the Etsy forums. What especially struck me was the happy, nice personality of the lady that runs it, Diane. I thought: “Wow, she must have a fun shop!” and I was right.

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And similarly, when I saw her shop, I found the personality inviting, charming and open.

As you can see with the fun picture on the left, her cards have a simplistic, amusing style that’s totally unique.

Diane’s career in art started when she drew a picture for a friend’s birthday. It was so popular, her friend got about 40 orders! (I think that’s a great way to start a business)

Diane’s work is shown in art shows and she used to own a shop. Sadly, her shop was destroyed in an earthquake.

Diane heard about Etsy through an artsy niece, and opened her shop in 2010, though didn’t keep it up until recently when she was laid off from her regular job. She admits the situation is a little scary, but with the support of her husband and Lord willing, she thinks a door will be opening soon. Even while I was talking with her, she made her first sale since reopening!

il_570xn-1132268380_ks92It goes without saying that I loved looking around at her shop. What struck me just now, when I was looking for some of the pictures to feature, was that there seems to be endless possibility to what Diane could do, since she’s making the cards completely from scratch!

She has several cute little angels, as well as animals, like the owls to the left.

Many of the cards are blank, or can have a small message, making it very customizable!

Besides the wonderful cards, Diane has several dolls that look amazingly like her illustrations. Here’s a Link to one of my favorites.

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This picture to the left is totally my favorite so far!!!

I loved checking out this shop, as I’m sure you will too!

Here’s a link to her Etsy shop, DianesDesignsbyDiane

And a link to her Blog, here on WordPress.

If you want to see more shops we feature here on occasional Fridays (hopefully a little more often than we’ve done recently) just follow our blog!

Hope everyone has a great Friday and weekend!

Sarah

Photographing Food

I love food. Food makes me happy.

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And occasionally I remember to take pictures of the dishes we make! So I thought I’d share a few of those photos here.

Admittedly, some dishes, like pilafs, are really hard to photograph. And another difficulty I find myself facing is that we usually have our main, photo-worthy meals in the evening when the lighting is… difficult.

The beautiful heart shaped cake to the left was made several years ago for Valentine’s Day. I forget what recipe we used for the cake, but it was delicious.

And something I’ve noticed more recently is that we didn’t serve the cake on a Fiesta Ware plate, which we normally would’ve done… so it was pre-Fiesta Ware days!

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Then there are also times when I happen to have my camera with me – or nearby – and I notice something that would be interesting to photograph…

which was the case with the coffee grounds pictured on the left. It was just too interesting looking for me to resist, especially since my current camera focuses very nicely. In this case I like how it either looks like chocolate or dirt or like what it actually is. Naturally, I took lots of pictures, but I liked the way this one turned out.

img_2364 I believe this was the mince pie we made recently. It was looking so wonderful and yummy in the light that, of course, I had to take pictures of it!

Solid things seem to be the easiest to take pictures of. Like I said before, pilafs or rice pudding, or anything with a squishy, gray-ish color makes it difficult to photograph. The best thing to do with those dishes, if you want to take pictures of them, seems to be to put a nice garnish on top and don’t get too close… allow people to imagine what the gray-ish dish is.

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The most recent food thing I’ve taken pictures of is the hot cocoa to the left… the wonderfully thick, rich, amazing Hot Cocoa.

I was trying to take pictures of it, and for some reason it was pretty unsuccessful. Maybe the lighting was off. However, I did manage to get this nice close-up of the surface, in which you can see the reflection of the orange slice and a little of the room. Yummy!

winter-orange-2A couple years ago I decided to challenge myself to taking pictures of food. It’s an ongoing challenge, since a dish will sometimes strike me, while others don’t work. Tonight’s meal of carrot soup and chicken with couscous was pretty, but I doubt it would be easy to photograph.

So, this year, I think I’m going to challenge myself to something even tougher. And… I’m going to challenge you too.

Find something you find especially difficult to capture, either photograph or paint or whatever the case may be, and try to capture it.

img_3043In my case, I’m going to challenge myself to Photograph my family. For some reason I find it difficult to photograph people, which is sad considering they’re much more important than most (if not all) things I take pictures of.

So, anyway, I challenge you to photograph or paint something you’re unfamiliar with this year. Challenge all the photographers or artists you know. I’ll go ahead and do a blog post on my process and the final results by April (although I should be able to manage it in March)

So there we go! Now the challenge is out, and I’d better get to it 🙂

Hoping everyone has a great finish to their week,

Sarah

 

Friday Featured Favorites: Redo

(I wrote this blog post – like… a month ago, and discovered recently that I hadn’t published it! Terrible mistake, considering the featured shop 🙂 )

I found a really fun shop a while ago…

and then I lost it. Fortunately, I found it again, and today I will feature it! This shop is known as VintageRedo, operated by Pamela.

il_570xn-733919732_skv2What caught my eye and made me want to feature this shop? First of all, I liked the art. Then, I love how Pam remakes something old – not only new – but she seems to completely reinvent it!

I’ve been looking around Etsy recently, and realizing that there is a lot of interesting retro/vintage things to find there. We’ve even discovered lots of stuff that we have, so apparently we could start up our own vintage shop!

I saw the art here on this shop, as shown on the left, and I really liked it. It’s surprising, unique and pretty.

I contacted Pam, thrilled to be featuring such a fun shop. I was especially interested to find out how she got started doing this art.

Apparently, she started when she was a young girl, and she always loved making jewelry. Her first project was using her grandmother’s buttons and jewelry to make a picture.

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Pam started her Etsy shop because, as she put it, “I’m an empty nester“. It turned into more of a business because of her love of jewelry and, as she puts it, a girl can only wear so much jewelry.

I asked her what her favorite era of history is. The Victorian era is one of her favorites, but she also specified the last 10 years of the 19th Century (also known as the Gay Nineties) as a favorite because of their intricate and beautiful buttons.

I looked up the Gay Nineties for myself, to see more about this era, and the buttons – among other things – are quite amazing.

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I found it difficult to figure out what photos to use from this shop, to capture the beauty Pam creates, so I definitely recommend you check out this vintage shop!

There are several necklaces and brooches, and I love all of the beautiful art pieces she created out of the jewelry!

Once again, the name of this shop is:

VintageRedo

I hope everyone’s December is going well so far, and everyone’s weekend is great!

Sarah

In with the new!

Wow! we’re a little more than half way through the first month of 2017! I didn’t see that coming.

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I have tons of plans for 2017! I usually have to think about them for a while before getting going on them, and talking about them beforehand really doesn’t help me.

However, I’m going to be daring… and make a sort of resolution.

It’s not an actual resolution, because that makes it sound boring. Anyway…

I’m talking about it here – first of all, because I’d love to share it a little with you – also, hopefully it will help me keep to it if more people know about it.

It’s recently come to my attention that I really enjoy playing music. I always had trouble figuring out how I wanted to play with music, but I miss it, so I really hope to get back into it during 2017.

img_2348I’m sure it’s been mentioned at some point that I play the violin, guitar and piano. I have less experience and knowledge with the piano and guitar, but they’re both very understandable instruments and I love all three of them.

So… I’ll be pulling out the guitar and violin to tune them! I’m especially interested in working on hymns, because I know several pretty well and enjoy them, and we’ll see where I go with that!

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Technically, this might not be the best time to be picking up another, time consuming thing. I can juggle a few things, like Etsy, eating, sleeping and thinking. But not much more.

However, I feel ready to try something new (or old). Plus, music is a wonderful, essential language. So, I am looking forward to this year, and praying that I can incorporate music comfortably into my life.

I’d love to hear what everyone has planned for the new year! Do you have anything that you’ve been wanting to get back to or a new adventure you’re thinking of trying?

Welcome to 2017 everyone! It’s still a new year, and I’m praying it’s a great one for everyone!

Sarah