so long, farewell...

by erin


Anyone who knows me well (or at all) would agree that I'm a fairly cynical gal.  I don't cry at movies, I tell borderline offensive jokes, and 95% of what I say is said with sarcasm.  Yet there's something about the end of one year and the start of another that gets to me.  I love the idea of starting fresh, of turning over a new leaf, of saying so long to the old and hello to the new, etc etc.  So that's what I'm going to do here.

As far as Major Life Events, 2009 was chock full.  I bought a house, got married, adopted a dog.  And yet I consider it a year of major growth for me for other reasons:

  • This fall, I feel like I finally hit my stride in law school and learned how to study effectively and (better) manage my time.  Of course, it would have been nice if I had done this two years ago, but better late than never.  And for the first time, I actually started to enjoy law school.  But just a little.
  • In the months leading up to my wedding, it became do or die time: if I didn't lose a few lbs, my dress was legit not going to zip up.  Stressful, yes.  But I lost the weight, and in doing so, I finally learned how to eat right to manage my weight and now I'm living more healthfully than I ever have.  And I felt amazing on my wedding day.
  • The most depressing thing about law school, for me, was that so much of my prior life had to go.  There simply was not time to do all of the things I used to enjoy when I worked 40 hours a week.  But I've slowly found ways to work (some of) those things back in, and I have more balance in my life than I've had in 2.5 years.  And part of that is this lil' blog and those who read it.  For your support, I am so grateful.
I don't mean to discount the house, wedding, and dog, because those moments defined this year for me.  My wedding day was something I will always remember so fondly, because it was meaningful and beautiful and perfect.  As I cleaned and prepped for my New Years party tonight, I stopped and looked around and was reminded of just how much I adore my house.  And as I strapped on my silly little pup's booties so his toes wouldn't freeze in the snow, I couldn't help but laugh at his adorableness.

So yes.  2009 was good to me.  But now, I'll say goodbye and move on to 2010!

This year will be another year of transitions for me: I'll graduate from law school in May.  While I'm not under any sort of illusion that I'm going to graduate and jump right into my dream job (or any job, for that matter), I refuse to be taken down by rampant mass pessimism (Above the Law, I'm looking at you) and I'll keep the hope that law school will pay off in the end.  In the meantime, I'm going to be proud of my accomplishment.  Law school ain't easy, kids, and I've wanted to quit so many times.  Graduating will be a big deal for me.

Other goals for 2010:
  • Keep building my blog, but remember why I created it and stay true to that.
  • Spend more time with my kind and ever so patient husband, who might be more excited for the end of law school than I am (but probably not).
  • Explore Minneapolis and St. Paul and finally try all those places I've been wanting to try for weeks, months, years.
  • Be more active about the things I'm passionate about (vegetarianism, the environment, politics).
  • Be better about keeping in touch with old friends.

So, goodbye, 2009 and welcome, 2010.  I'm truly excited for what's to come.

This week's seller is gemheaven jewellery, and it comes to us from across the pond, in Cornwall, England.  The designer of these gorgeous creations actually takes her inspiration from her home, saying that "the ocean and the wilds of the moorland inspire [and] are captured in each and every piece".  With a description like that, you know the final product is going to be lovely, right?

and it is.

The designer describes her work as handmade, organic silver jewelry with a hint of color.  What I love the most is the way she uses the color - subtly, yet beautifully.

But when she goes all out with color, it is truly exquisite.

For much more gorgeous jewelry, check out gemheaven's etsy shop.


design dilemma

by erin

When Ryan and I made the big house purchase, we were lucky to find one that had been updated and renovated but that had managed to retain its 100-year-old charm.  Yet, part of that charm is small rooms with less-than-desirable floor plans.  Our bedroom is just such a room - with the door into the room on one wall, closets on walls two and three, and a giant radiator on the fourth, there was barely enough room for our bed, let alone for nightstands or other decor.  So finding a way to make the space work for us took a little creativity.

Enter Crate and Barrel and the Archetype Wall Box.  We have a fairly ridiculous amount of picture frames, candles, and the like, so I threw a few of these on our gift registry, thinking that they would be good 'filler' for our big empty walls (most of which I'm still working on filling).  Yet when we got and assembled them, I realized they were the answer to my bedroom dilemma.

We hung three of them horizontally over our bed, creating a faux-headboard with plenty of storage space for my lip gloss and lotion, removing the need for nightstands and creating a pretty fancy look in the process, in my opinion. Win-win!

the finished product.

(puggle in christmas sweater not included)


stay tuned!

by erin

Hi, lovely reader(s).  I know I haven't been posting much lately, but I'm neck-deep in finals and, to be honest, a shower is an accomplishment these days.  The good news is that I'm done as soon as I finish a paper (hence the current procrastination-motivated blog post) and then it's going to be post city!  I've got a bunch of awesome things bookmarked that I'm dying to share with you, so stay tuned!

In the meantime...here are a few things I'm obsessed with right now:

  • The fact that you are all awesome and, because of that, I'll be donating 32 cans to Second Harvest! 16 comments + 16 subscribers = 32 cans!  That is going to make so many families so happy this holiday season.  Thank you all so much for contributing!  I'll make my donation this weekend and, as promised, I'll take a picture for you!
  • Ebates.  I'm usually kind of skeptical about programs like this, but I dug through their entire site and couldn't find a catch.  Basically, if you go through ebates to shop online, they rebate a stated percentage of your total.  It's so stinking easy and I can't believe I just discovered it now!  If you've ever given me your email address (like...ever), I'm sure I sent you a referral, because with each referral, we both get $5.  So if you want $5, check your inbox (or send me your email address and I'll hook you up)!  I've done all of my Christmas shopping through them and it's paid off!
  • Style Rookie.  If you haven't seen this blog, spend a few minutes reading through it, and then try to guess the age of the author.  Ready?  She's 13.  I've never seen someone so young with such presence and poise, and such knowledge of fashion.  When I was 13...oh, let's not talk about it.  I'll just say that I was much more concerned with boy bands than fashion.
  • My new riding boots.  I've been looking for boots like these for, quite literally, YEARS.  So when I came across these at DSW a few weeks back, and they fit and were on sale and I had a coupon, I bought them immediately.  I'm in love.
  • New Year's.  Ryan and I were recently nominated by our friends to throw a new year's party, and I guess I'm taking that as a compliment?  But I've been wanting to throw a fancy party so I jumped at the opportunity, and I've already begun thinking of food, drinks, decor...

more to come!


a green christmas

by erin

Confession: I'm a sucker for Christmas.  I love everything about the season - the lights, the music (I usually start listening to Christmas music in October), the traditions and time with family, eggnog, cookies, Charlie Brown Christmas, etc., etc.  I feel like everyone is a lot more kind to one another this time of year, and it's fun to get caught up in the spirit.  And of course, I love gifts - receiving, yes, but I really really love giving them (I know everyone says this, but with me, it's true.  I consider my talent for picking out the perfect gift a well-honed skill, and I adore watching people open gifts from me).  A pile of brightly-wrapped gifts under a Christmas tree delights me like nothing else.  But over the years, as I've become more environmentally conscious, I've begun to feel a familiar twang as the gifts get open and the paper gets thrown away - all of that paper, wasted, now going to sit in a landfill for the rest of eternity!!!!

So I resolved to 'green' my Christmas wrapping!

A couple of years back, Ryan and I decided to wrap all of our gifts in brown paper grocery bags.  This worked okay, but the paper was pretty stiff and difficult to wrangle, and tape didn't do much to hold everything together.  I decorated the gifts with raffia ribbon, but they looked kind of sad next to all of the pretty gifts under the tree.  So, onward.

Tina from Carrots 'N Cake (one of my favorite food blogs), uses a similar idea: she saves her Macy's holiday shopping bags and uses those as wrapping.  Add curling ribbon, and you can't even tell it's not wrapping paper.  Look how festive!

Everyone knows the age-old trick of using the comics section of a newspaper to wrap a gift.  But you can use the rest of the newspaper, too - if you know your audience!  If your gift recipient is a music or theater lover, use the front page of the arts and entertainment section; if you're giving to a business-person, the stock page; wrap a traveler's gift in pages from National Geographic.  Or use the newspaper as a hint - like Twilight ads for your favorite vampire fan!  Black and white newsprint seems boring, I know, but never underestimate the power of curling ribbon or fancy bows!

And if you have a million takeout menus floating around your house (like me), how about wrapping a gift in the menu from the recipient's favorite restaurant or favorite food?

And why not make the wrapping part of the gift?  Use a canvas grocery tote or lunch bag, a soft scarf, or use jewelry as a bow!  Giving wine?  How about an insulated bag your recipient will be able to use to transport her wine to her next gathering?  Or give your gift in a sturdy box or bag that the recipient will be able to reuse next year - they'll thank you when they don't have to wrap their next gift!

There are so many more good ideas on how to green your Christmas wrapping - just be creative!  And if you can't let go of the tradition of those brightly wrapped gifts (which I totally understand), be eco-friendly: buy recycled gift wrap, and recycle it when you're done.  Full circle, right?

Every so often, a fashion or design trend sneaks up on me.  I notice a few things here and there, noting "oh hey, that's pretty" and then, all of a sudden, I'm 100%, head-over-heels, obsessed.  Such is the case with applique roses and ruffles and the like, which are pretty trendy right now.  As for me, my love began when I discovered the gorgeous details of Lela Rose wedding gowns (especially this one), and grew as appliques began appearing in my favorite stores (I'm currently obsessed with this cardigan and this top from Ann Taylor Loft).

To make a longer-than-intended story short, I about fell out of my chair when I came across Heart of Light.  At this shop, you'll find gorgeous accessories - headbands, belts, and hair clips, among others - made of floral appliques and ruffles.  Everything is girly and sweet, yet still hip and chic.  The accessories have a vintage feel (another of my loves) and I want basically everything.

this belt was the first thing to catch my eye.  it would take any average LBD and make it memorable.

and this corsage pin would dress up any cardigan.

adorable rosebud and ruffle pins, available in a rainbow of colors.

and rosebud and ruffle headbands, also in any color.

I think it's safe to say that all of these are going on my Christmas list.  To put them on yours, visit Heart of Light's etsy shop.  The seller also keeps a blog, in which she shares her inspiration, as well as home decor and lifestyle tips (you must read her advice for keeping the holidays stress-free!).

Remember - I'm participating in Cans for Comments, which means that for every comment you leave, I'll donate a can to a local food shelf!  So comment now and comment often!

As today is December 1 (side note: seriously, December? where did November go? for that matter, where did 2009 go?) and the holiday season is fast approaching, I've been feeling the need to give something back.  For all of my complaining about school and life in general, I am pretty blessed, and I want to help those that are less fortunate than me.  That being said, I don't have a lot of extra time or cash to donate.  So when I saw this post on one of my favorite fancy blogs, I knew I had to participate.  And so here we are: Cans for Comments!

(photo from mdphotography.org)

The premise is simple: for every comment I receive on my blog between now and December 15, I will donate one can of food to a local food shelf.  I'll also donate an additional can for every subscriber, current or new (let me know in the comments if you currently subscribe).  The comments don't have to be on only this post - they can be on any of my posts, past or future.  Just keep 'em coming!

I'll post a picture of my donation when all is said and done.  I'm so excited for this chance to help end hunger in my community, and I urge my fellow bloggers to do the same!

p.s.: Want another way to donate to charity while spending zero extra time and money?  Replace Google with GoodSearch.  Every search gives a charity of your choice (mine is Homeward Bound - where we got our pup) about one cent.  That doesn't sound like much, but it adds up fast!  Also, if you're doing some online shopping this holiday season, shop through GoodShop and up to 30% of your purchase goes to your charity.  Now there's a win-win situation :)


etsy seller spotlight: jenn ski

by erin

This week's etsy seller was chosen when, lacking in any real inspiration, I began flipping through the "time machine", where etsy lists its most recent additions.  Nothing really caught my eye until  I came across the bright colors and bold prints of Jenn Ski - and fell in love.

Jenn's shop is full of retro-inspired (yet still modern) prints and accessories.  She is an artist out of New Hampshire who has become very successful since graduating from college in 2005 - she even has a scrapbooking line at Michael's!

These would be perfect for a child's room - spell our her name!

and for your room, easy wall decor - put pods on the wall!

perfect housewarming gifts:

send a darling greeting card:

and carry your groceries in this retro tote:

I love everything about this shop - the colors, the designs, the retro feel.  If you want to see more, check out Jenn's shop.  She also keeps a blog with her latest design inspirations.

(all photos courtesy of Jenn Ski)


the sun on the water

by erin

Hey, another post related to my wedding. IMAGINE THAT!

Technically, though, this has to do with after the wedding - our honeymoon, to be exact!  We didn't have a lot of time after the wedding to take a big tropical vacation (we had a wedding in the U.P. the following weekend) so we decided, as a lot of Twin Cities newlyweds do, to head 'up north' for a few days.  I was so indescribably happy when Ryan took charge of the honeymoon planning (I was SO OVER decision-making by this point) and he did an amazing job, because we ended up at Solglimt.

Solglimt Bed and Breakfast is a Duluth B&B that is located just over the Duluth lift bridge from Canal Park.  It is run by a lovely and kind couple who definitely knows how to make you feel at home.  And the food - oh my goodness, the food.  Breakfast is served every morning at 9:00, and most days we ate so much we had to go back to bed for a couple of hours to let it settle.  SO.GOOD.

One of the best things we had while we were there was Strawberry Soup.  Incredible.

The rooms are wonderful, too.  They just added on with two modern 'green' rooms, which is where we stayed (the Aerial Bridge Suite, to be exact).  Every room has a fireplace and big picture windows.  We spent most nights sitting by our window, drinking wine, and just watching the water.  Heavenly.

The grounds are full of gorgeous flowers and landscaping, and there are stairs down to the beach.  If Lake Superior ever happened to be warm enough, it would be perfect for swimming.

Our B&B honeymoon was absolutely perfect.  We're going back on our first anniversary (and every anniversary after that!) and I am already so excited.

all photos courtesy of Solglimt- click the pics to see them larger (highly recommended)!

In all of my crazy obsessive wedding planning, I was slightly ashamed to admit that I had NO IDEA what I was going to get for my bridesmaids until mere weeks (okay, days) before the wedding.  I knew I didn't want to get them anything monogrammed (bridesmaids ALWAYS get monogrammed crap) but I still wanted their gifts to be personal.  So I turned to etsy (as any good bride does in the midst of a planning conundrum), and when I found XOHandiworks (another MN seller!), I knew I had found the perfect gift.  They sell handmade magnets, buttons, and pendants made from vintage and recycled maps, dictionaries, and board games, and as they'll easily customize an order for you, their products are a unique, personal, and inexpensive gift.

I got my bridesmaids these magnets, customized with maps of their hometowns, which was incredible, because some of them come from really small towns (Bottineau, ND and Medford, WI, for example).  I loved watching the girls open their gifts and discover their hometowns - the magnets got rave reviews.

bridesmaids Katie (Eagan, MN) and Kelcey (Beulah, ND) comparing magnets

XOHandiworks also makes square magnets:

and map pendants.  These would be wonderful gifts to remember a honeymoon or other once-in-a-lifetime vacation.

They also make keychains and pendants from Scrabble letters!  If you're a nerd like me who always dominates at Scrabble (which I am and I DO), you love things like this.
E for Erin?  I think so...

To see these and the many other products, visit XOHandiwork's etsy shop, or if you're in the upper Midwest, visit one of the shops that carry their goods.
(all photos courtesy of XOHandiworks)


Meet Levi!

by erin

When we bought our house last spring, I was excited.  Not to be a homeowner, or for the fact that we got a great deal and bonus cash from the government (thanks, crappy economy!), or that our house was just redone and is fabulous (which it was and it is), but because house + yard = DOG.  I adore our two naughty kitties so much, but you can't put a leash on a cat and walk it around the block.  Trust me.  I tried.

We were originally going to wait until next summer to get a dog, until after graduation and the bar exam.  I joked with Ryan that the first anniversary was really the dog anniversary, not paper (ha! I'm funny) but he was slightly more hesitant than I.  So last week when he hinted that he might be ready for a dog sooner rather than later, I jumped at the crack in his resolve.  One thing led to another, and yesterday we came home with this darling pooch.


He's a puggle - pug/beagle mix - but a bit more beagle than pug, which is why he's on the bigger side.

It was love at first sight.  This darling pup is one year old, and full of love and excitement.  He loves giving kisses, chasing squirrels, and exploring.  The cats are not terribly impressed with him, but they're coming around and soon I think they'll be best friends (or will at least be able to tolerate one another).

I mean, SERIOUSLY.  Who can resist this face?!?!

We got Levi from a rescue organization, which I highly, strongly encourage.  There were so many sad, homeless pets at the adoption yesterday, and so many more out there that need homes.  Don't shop - adopt!

Welcome to a new feature here on b:d:l, motivated by my love of etsy and my passion for supporting individuals and small businesses.  I love the idea of someone who has worked in the same field or even at the same job for 5 or 10 or 20 years waking up one day and deciding to take a leap and follow their passion and their talent.  That this actually happens could very well be my own starry-eyed delusion, but regardless, etsy makes it possible.

This week's featured seller is Angie Davis and her shop, byrd & belle.  Angie hails from our beloved Minneapolis - one more reason to love her work!  She worked as an architect until the recession slowed her down, and then decided to use her spare time for designing and crafting.  Her etsy shop features her clean, modern and environmentally friendly gadget cases, among other things.  Here are a few examples of her work:

Wool felt 13" laptop case, with leather accents.  From the seller: "Leather straps and patch are hand-dyed here in the studio using environmentally friendly, low v.o.c. dyes."

Wool felt iPhone case, with a handy strap & snap to hold headphones.  Interior is Egyptian cotton.

Pencil pouch made of custom printed denim fabric designed by the seller herself.

No more unnecessary waste - bring your own coffee sleeve to the coffee shop!

People like Angie Davis give me hope that one day I might wake up, make my last student loan payment, quit the law and spend the rest of my life simply making lovely things.  A girl can dream.

(all photos courtesy of byrd & belle)