Natural Skincare on a Budget


If you sit down and add up the cost of all of your favorite products in your skincare routine, you might feel a bit of sticker shock. My favorite organic face cream alone is sixty dollars, and when I totaled up the cost of my four “essential” skin care products, it was well over a hundred. Lately, I’ve been trying extra hard to save money, to finance my business endeavors, pay down my student loans, as well as save for my family’s future. So I decided to cut the cost of my routine by more than two thirds and get all four daily products within forty dollars total, without compromising on natural ingredients.

To wash my face in the morning and at night, I’ve been using the Nourish Organic Moisturizing Cream Face Cleanser. It’s refreshing, certified organic, comes in a decent-sized bottle, contains only pure ingredients, and is easy to find at natural foods stores. In the evenings, I follow the cleanser with the Andalou Naturals Rose Toner, which smells like a rose garden. The toner isn’t really a must, but it makes me feel like I’m at a spa when I spritz it on, so I decided to include it. For a moisturizer, I use a couple of drops of Caru Jojoba Facial Oil, which is organic, made by a small and independent company, and comes in an adorable bottle. If you’re not a fan of face oils, you might like to try Fat and the Moon Aloe Lotion (also independent + organic + and less than $15). For lip balm these days, I’m using Wild Mint Lip Balm from Phoenix Botanicals, a little shop on Etsy. If you want something equally great and slightly more affordable, you could also try Weleda Lip Balm, a product that is available in most health food stores.

Have you guys been trying out any new natural beauty products lately? If so, share your recommendations in the comments, or just general tips for living on a budget!

Five Illustrators You Will Love

Carson Ellis' new book, Home

Carson Ellis’s new book, Home


One of the things that is so marvelous about illustration is its playfulness, charm, and fairy-tale quality. I follow quite a few illustrators on Instagram, and have fallen in love with their work. Today, I’m sharing links to the blogs and websites of five illustrators whose work I think you will enjoy (click their names to head over to their sites)! One of the reasons I admire these particular artists so much is that they all depict the flora and fauna of the natural world so creatively, each with their own signature aesthetic.

1. Oana Befort

Oana Befort’s work is so stunning– every time I see something new on her blog, I always ogle it for a few minutes just admiring how pretty it all is. Her floral illustrations are particularly delicate, and the colors she uses always have a fresh and happy vibe to them. She lives in Bucharest, Romania, but you can order her work from anywhere in the world via Etsy.

2. Carson Ellis

Carson Ellis is the Oregon-based illustrator who did the imagery for the children’s fantasy book, Wildwood, which looks like a gem. You may have also seen the artwork she made for the cover of the Decemberists’ latest CD. Her latest project, a little book called Home (pictured above) contains her interpretations of various types of dwellings.

3. Julianna Swaney

You will swoon at first sight when you see Julianna Swaney’s whimsical drawings. Her depictions of animals are especially lovely, and she has a style that is all her own. Check out her beautiful Instagram page, where she posts pictures of her latest work and her life in Portland, Oregon.

4. Jennifer Judd-McGee

An illustrator from Mount Desert Island, Maine, Jennifer Judd-McGee creates illustrations that are graphically detailed, and she frequently chooses nature motifs such as botanicals, sky and landscape, and ocean waves as her subjects. Definitely check out her fabulous Etsy shop, too.

5. Diana Sudyka

Simultaneously folk-inspired and contemporary, Diana Sudyka’s illustrations will transport you to another world. She also writes a blog called The Tiny Aviary, and she regularly finds inspiration at the Field Museum of Natural History, where she volunteers in her spare time.

 Who are your favorite illustrators?



Finding a Spark When You’re Feeling Uninspired

Topanga CanyonFlashback to that time I rented a cabin by myself in Topanga Canyon, California and woke up at 4:30 am and watched the sunrise because I was on east-coast time. That was a good morning. The kind when you wake up feeling excited to take on the day.

Maybe you’re bored with your routine. Maybe your energy levels are low. Maybe something didn’t work out the way you wanted it to. Insert whatever situation is causing you to feel uninspired. Do you ever get into a rut where nothing feels exciting and you feel like you need a change to set things right? I’ve seen a lot of posts lately in regard to blogging inspiration, but I thought I’d do one that can be applied to life in general. I’m certainly not an inspiration guru, so these are just easy tips and tricks that have worked for me. Please share your own in the comments! What ideas do you use to shake things up?

1. Exercise

I get some of my best ideas when I’m working out. I can’t explain why. I’ll be jogging along thinking about nothing in particular and then sometimes a great idea will pop into my head. Even if there aren’t any “Ah ha” moments, at least you will feel invigorated and healthy. Moving your body goes hand-in-hand with a healthy mind.

2. Get outside

Sunshine and fresh air is good for the soul. This could take the form of hiking, walking the dog, mowing the lawn, gardening, or even taking a solo trip to the mountains for the weekend. In my world, nothing is as invigorating as time spent in nature. Inspiration really can’t be forced, in fact quite the opposite, so if you just enjoy being outside and let your mind wander, unexpected things can happen.

3. Shake up your routine

You never know where you might find inspiration if you do something outside your normal routine, even if it’s small stuff that isn’t groundbreaking. Go to bed earlier. Make a smoothie instead of coffee. Call a friend. Wear a different outfit. Download some new music. Try a different shampoo. You name it, switching up the little things can make life a bit more interesting.

4. Cancel your Netflix subscription

We’ve all been there. Binge-watching Netflix and feeling bad about things. I once watched the entire first season of The Killing over the course of a week (January 2014, not my finest moment) and I could not have felt worse. Granted, it’s pretty much the bleakest show known to man and January is the worst month, but seriously, doing a passive activity for hours on end can really but a damper on the creativity. Just rent a movie on iTunes or watch Hulu next time you feel like a little screen time.

5. Start a new project

This may seem counter-intuitive to begin a new project when you’re not feeling creative. But if you start a project that really has nothing to do with your rut, then it can be a fun and needed distraction that can spark some excitement. For example, if you’re an artist and you’re feeling ho-hum about your work lately, don’t try to force a new series of paintings right away. Instead, plan a party (summer kick-off BBQ, anyone?), plan a vacation or a day trip, redecorate your living room, or do some spring cleaning.

6. Change of scenery!

I can’t count the number of times I’ve gone away on a trip and then came back feeling all kinds of inspired. If you’re like me and just forked over a bunch of money to Uncle Sam on your taxes this year, a vacation may not be in the budget. So just exploring a new town within a couple hours of your house can be pretty satisfying, too. Or, just go somewhere you’ve never been in your own city. Try a new bakery, visit a museum, walk a different hiking path.

7. Make ‘happy’ lists

At the beginning of a new season, I like to make lists of things that I find exciting. This spring’s list looks something like this: the new bird feeder I just installed; the smell of Mrs. Meyers cleaning products; Deliciously Ella’s recipes; colors: pale aqua, candy pink, spring green; Charleston, SC (I want to plan a trip); lemon water; that new Maroon 5 song, Sugar; scents: coconut and rose; etc. These are little things, but they are specific and I can bring more of them into my day to feel a zest for life.

8. Browse Instagram

Normally I wouldn’t recommend mindless smartphone use to find inspiration, but there are some crazy talented people taking pictures of their artwork, recipes, animals, nature scenes, style, or whatever interests you. I always discover new artisans, places to visit, and loads of other dynamite things when I spend 10 minutes browsing Instagram. One of these days I’ll do a blog post with links to my favorites.

Fancy Some Roly-Poly Kitty Cats in Your Mailbox?


If you received this card in the mail, would you be able to keep from smiling? What’s special about the California-based company Hello!Lucky is that their stationery goods are bright, colorful, fun, and a little cheeky.

You may remember this paper studio from my post about their partridge holiday cards during the winter. Hello!Lucky was founded by two sisters, Eunice and Sabrina Moyle. You can read an interview with them here, and here’s a tour of their beautiful offices in San Francisco.

Their online shop has loads of adorable designs like this funny Mother’s Day card, “Fish in the Sea” Love card, Jungle Birthday card, and of course the Kitty Cats design that I ordered to liven up my stationery stash this spring (there’s one with Pooches, too). Color can have such an uplifting impact, so I love the idea of sending a bright card in the mail to brighten someone’s day!



What I Learned From Attending My First Trade Show as a Buyer


In March, I attended my first trade show to scope out vendors and product for Waxwing Mercantile. Prior to attending, I had tried to find advice online about attending your first show and there wasn’t much out there from the buyer perspective. The one I chose for my first show was New England Made, which focuses on goods that are made here in the northeast by independent companies and artisans. Here’s what I learned:

  • Choose a friendly crowd for your first show. Someday in the not-too-distant future I’d like to attend NYNow and some of the bigger shows, but for my first experience, I chose a smaller event where the people were approachable and the floor wasn’t overly crowded.
  • Pre-register. I did this, and I avoided a long line and didn’t have to hassle with paperwork. Make sure to read up on the forms of ID that are acceptable at entry and then bring copies of them. These might include your tax certificates, business cards, checks, etc.
  • Arrive early in the day. Depending on where your trade show is located, this may mean the difference between onsite parking and a shuttle bus.
  • Skim the vendor list in advance if it’s posted on the website. That way, you can make note of the vendors you want to visit and make sure you make it to their booths. I didn’t do this, but I did take the booklet that they provided me upon entry, plunked myself in the cafe area for 15 minutes to skim through the list of vendors to make sure that I made time to visit the ones that stood out to me.
  • Even if you come with a list of vendors to visit, walk the floor and see who else piques your interest. The whole point of the show is to be introduced to new product, so stay open to discoveries.
  • Familiarize yourself with wholesale lingo so you know what you’re talking about and can “speak the language” of the other attendees. I like this A-Z Retail Glossary from the National Stationery Show.
  • You don’t have to buy anything. If it’s your first show, maybe you’re not quite ready to build inventory or maybe nothing was quite right for your store. At the very least, you’ll come away having met some new vendors to keep in mind for the future.
  • You can touch the stuff! I know this must sound funny and obvious. But I’ve worked in museums for a long time (please keep a safe distance from the artwork), so I had to remind myself that trade shows are all about engaging your senses in investigating product, and vendors kept encouraging me to touch the goods. Smell the candles, touch the textiles, use the lotions, etc.
  • Make a point to talk to people. I think the biggest mistake I could have made was to just to observe and not to participate. You’ll make connections this way and will feel like you accomplished something when you leave.
  • Bring lots of business cards (in this case I didn’t follow my own advice, but you live and learn!)
  • Know your one-line description of what you do. People will ask you left and right what your business is all about. To the longtime buyers, I’m sure this comes naturally, but for first-time business owners, it is important to be able to describe it with confidence, enthusiasm, and clarity. Just remember, nobody knows it better than you do.

Have you attended trade shows before? If so, what are your pointers? I’m curious to learn from the seasoned pros out there!

Nature-infused scents from Brooklyn Candle Studio


What better way to complete your spring cleaning than burning a scented candle? This past weekend I did some major organizing in my clothes closet setting aside lots of things to donate, and then cleaned the house from top-to-bottom. After working hard to spruce up the place, I like to relax by burning a candle, making a fruit smoothie, and reading a book (currently reading Wild). This week I’m trying the travel tin candles from Brooklyn Candle Studio. When I first saw them online, I was drawn in by the simple packaging, and then when I read more about them I found out that they offer a variety of scents and use essential oils in their formulas. The ones that I decided to try are Honeysuckle, Fern + Moss, Rose Botanica, and Montana Forest. At the moment my favorites are Honeysuckle and Rose Botanica, probably because it’s spring and floral scents inspire hope for warmer weather. The company offers a few different packaging options depending on your personal preference, including mason jars, amber glass jars, and the tins that are pictured here. If you’re planning ahead and want to get a nice Mother’s Day gift or something special for someone with a spring birthday, these “pick 4″ gift sets could be just the thing!