Thursday, December 30, 2010

Guilt-Free Pampering

There's nothing I enjoy more than slathering on some of my sugar/shea butter body scrub and just letting it dissolve off in the shower.  I use it. I use a lot of it. Thank goodness I make my own, because the amount of packaging and processing that would have to happen in order to suffice my need would be redonkulous. 

Since I use body scrubs in gluttonous proportions, it got me thinking: can we be eco-friendly and still pamper ourselves?

I make all my products vegan and choose to use certified organic and fair trade body butter in my scrubs. It's a step - but a small one. Everything from ingredients to packaging should be considered when enjoying some of those lux items.

 (Interested? Click Here)

The scrubs I make contain no paraffin or parabens. They are petroleum free, and contain no animal by-products (i.e. vegan). They also have no artificial fragrance or preservatives.  I never was really aware of what went into body products until I started making my own.

If I try and take such care of the inside of my body (being conscious about where my food comes from), should I not do the same for the outside? Paraffin is derived from petroleum (oil) products. Paraben (a synthetic preservative) has been found in low concentrations in breast cancer tumors.

Not good. Not good at all.

Etsy to the rescue!

There are numerous sellers on Etsy that sell environmentally friendly body products. Furthermore, these products usually aren't processed in big factories, minimizing the packaging and processing environmental costs.

Here are some that caught my eye: 

 Organic Cocoa-Mango Buttercream Body Butter and Leave-In Hair Conditioner Sandalwood Vanilla or Pick Your Own Fragrance (8oz) (Interested? Click Here)

 Green Tea Exfoliating Artisan Soap with Tea Leaves, Organic Oils and Shea Butter (vegan happy) (Interested? Click Here)

Sweet Orange Essence Hand and Body Lotion, Paraben Free, Vegan (Interested? Click Here)

Unscented Organic Soy Milk Shower Gel - Vegan Friendly (Interested? Click Here)

In a word: Yummy.

You could always order your own ingredients. Sites like is a great place to start.  For my own personal concoction, I just researched a bunch of different recipes and tested until perfect. 

And I proudly claim to test 100% on humans.

So What Exactly is it that You Do?

I get this all the time.

When I tell people about what I do and sell on Etsy, they ask me how I do it.

Not to reveal all my secrets (but I am sure you can guess), but I like to go on what I call "hunts". This is where I peruse various locations (thrift shops, estate sales, garage sales etc.) and look for unique and interesting items.

A typical haul from a hunt looks like this:

One step away from the first ever Hoarders/Intervention Double Whammy.

It's important to set your limits. For instance, my biggest criteria (and pretty much only one) is to choose only items that I myself would want to purchase full price! That way 1. I know if it doesn't sell, then I am still getting something I will enjoy and 2. If there are people out there like me (and I know there must be) than I will eventually make a sale. I also make sure that my items are in good condition. This means minimal to no chips, cracks, dents etc. Obviously when shopping for vintage, items won't always be in mint condition. If there is a minor imperfection, that doesn't effect the use, quality or image of the item, I will consider purchasing it, but always remember to list those imperfections.

It's interesting when you go out on a hunt with another person.  My boyfriend and I went on a hunt the other day, and saw a set of glasses. He thought they would be a good idea. I wasn't too sure. I'm not a huge fan of souvenir items:

I didn't end up buying them, and now I see that they are selling - and they would have made a good profit. Oh well.  It makes me realize that I need to maybe be a bit less discriminating about the items I purchase. Shopping with a fresh set of eyes, one whose tastes differ from yours can sometimes be a good thing. At the end of the day however, I am in the business to make some money, so if I'm not entirely sure, I'd rather not risk it.

On my last hunt I did find a few items that I'm particularly fond of:

 (Interested? Click Here)

Here are the Mushroom Glasses I found! How ridiculously cool is this? Could you imagine serving your favourite cocktail in this?  Ok, so they may not be the most classy of items, but there is a sense of irony to serve your guests a classy cocktail, in a mushroom and leaf motif glass.

(Interested? Click Here)
These juice glasses appealed to me because they are exactly the same ones that were in my grandparent's cottage. Apparently, they were shrimp cocktail glasses, that were than repurposed by my grandmother for juice glasses. Clearly, re-purposing (ahem frugality) is hereditary.

(Interested? Click Here)

This is the cutest thing. Ever. It's a vintage fondue pot, however, it can be used as a traditional cooking pot. How can you not love the umbrella motif decorated around the bottom of the pot?

The hunt is the fun part. The part that I look most forward to. Everything else is what makes it a part-time job. It is time-consuming to take the right picture, to get the right light, to get the right angle. It is important to properly stage your image. I'm still struggling with this. I marvel at people's picture taking abilities. Perhaps one of my first major purchases with my Etsy $ is to buy a DSLR camera.

After taking the pictures I have to list every item. Again, time consuming. I have to resize the pictures, inspect the items, describe, title, price etc. All of this can take the better part of an evening.

 And then there was one...

After everything is photographed and listed, it gets wrapped back up, and stored for safe keeping.

It's an ongoing learning process to be a vintage seller on Etsy, and I am certainly not anywhere close to being an expert, but I'm enjoying every moment of it!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Natural History

If you browse the shops of Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie or Forever 21, you will notice a huge increase in prints, designs and items with animals and woodland themes as the focus. Owls, birdies, squirrels, toadstools (to name a few) have graced the items of jewelry, pictures, dinnerware, clothing etc.

Obviously, I'm in love.

I have a few items in my shop that fit this description:

(Interested? Click Here)

When I saw this owl, staring up at me, I knew I had to have it.  I believe it's main function is to be a plant holder, however, I suggest the eco-friendly re-purposing efforts of making a it a beer bottle/can holder. The instructions to do this are as follows:

1. Insert Beer in Holder
2. That's it.

The next couple of items comes from my "Rejected Art Projects" section in my shop. I couldn't pass up these adorable hand painted creamer and sugar set with Toadstool motif. On the bottom is marked "Lynn 1981". O, Lynn. Why would you want to part with such magnificence?

 (Interested? Click Here)

(Interested? Click Here)

Clearly ahead of their time, this is a 3-D toadstool plate made by K.K. in 1979. Perhaps they accidentally placed this plate in the donate pile, because I see no reason to not display it...preferably with it's own glass case, and spotlight. 

All joking aside (but seriously, these items are available in my shop - go now!), the forest/woodland creatures theme is huge right now! Interestingly enough, it is fairly easy to find some awesome vintage pieces that incorporate these elements:

(Interested? Click Here)

Believe it or not, this is not the first squirrel/walnut trinket holder I have seen. My boyfriend has one that I enviously see every time I'm at his place. I joke that I get it in the divorce settlement (not joking. lawyers have been notified).

(Interested? Click Here)

These t-shirts come in a variety of colours. I like the natural image of the owl, however, it still appeals to the cutesy side of me (with those gorgeous big eyes!)

(Interested? Click Here)

I love this item! I've actually done it myself. I bought a vintage, hard cased, yellow suitcase, and stencilled the image of a flock of birds on the one side, and the silhouette of two birds on branches on the other side. It was a huge hit (According to the one person I've shown it to).  Vintage suitcases (like the real, 1960s, with the mirror attached (like mine!)) are becoming harder to find. Especially ones that are in excellent condition like this one. Skip the expensive, and mass-produced TNA and Lululemon bags, and have something original and unique for your travels!

(Interested? Click Here)

What's more woodsy than a print about the woods, in a medium that looks like the woods? In reality this is a print on paper, that can easily be framed and displayed.

I love mixing woodsy, arty themes with vintage items. As mentioned in an earlier post, I love vintage dinnerware. I think these two themes make the perfect match:

(Interested? Click Here)

I am quite liking this not-so new trend. Thanks to ETSY's merchandising page for giving me the idea!

Stay tuned to the blog and my shop, I'll be having some new items posted soon (when I can get my act together) that incorporate both Vintage bar-ware and woodsy elements (Toadstool Printed Drinking Glasses anyone! Oh yes. Be. Ex. Cited!)

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Organized Mind

It's the time of year where one starts to think about being a bit more organized. There seems to be a countless number of thank you notes that need to be written. And if you are like me you are developing a plan of attack for those New Year's Resolutions - You will stick to them this time!

There is a wide array of paper supplies on Etsy that will satisfy your every want!

While you may not have time to make individual thank-you cards for a long list of people, Etsy can offer an awesome assortment of handmade cards:

(Interested? Click Here)

(Interested? Click Here)

(Interested? Click Here)

As a Vegan, I'm particularly fond of this notecard!
(Interested? Click Here)
For me personally, I know have a few select goals that I am hoping to achieve for 2011. I'm avoiding calling them "Resolutions". Last year, I made no resolutions - and ended up losing 23 lbs.  This coming year however, I believe I need to be more focused. Some ways in which I am doing that is making sure I keep a notebook, notepad, check list pad...etc. at my disposal. 

Here is a list of things that I have my eye on:

 (Interested? Click Here)

(Interested? Click Here)

In a recent shipment from an Etsy order, the seller sent me a matchbook notebook as a little freebie. At first I didn't think that it would be helpful, but now I absolutely love it! It fits everywhere and anywhere. I keep it with me in my clutch so that I can quickly jot down a grocery list, a phone number and so on!
(Interested? Click Here)

I love funny "to-do" lists. Etsy has great supplies of ingenious notepads. This is one of my favourites.
(Interested? Click Here)
As a way to keep myself accountable, I am going to blog about my 2011 Goals. Please follow them on the separate page (each goal will be given it's own page). 

I am definitely the type of person who gets "inspired" through picking up new and fun items. It may not be sustainable, but if it gets me excited to do something good for myself, than I think it's worth it.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Upcycling? What the What?

Wikipedia states (so we know we are getting some quality information here on this blog) that "Upcycling" is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value.

I had never encountered the word upcycling prior to being on etsy. Sometimes, people seem to pile crapola on top of garbage, price it at 1000x it's worth (but really people, 0 x 1000 is still 0), and call it an original piece of art.

These are pieces that end up on Regretsy (check it out, too much fun - my goal is to one day end up on it).

There are however, people who really know how to do it right with upcycling. My attempt with upcycling was when I took vintage teacups and mugs and made soy candles out of them. Soy candles are infinitely better (in my humble opinion) over paraffin candles, because soy is vegetable derived and paraffin is petroleum derived.

(Interested? Click Here)

I personally loved this vintage retro print on the tea cup, and scented it a yummy warm chai scent.

The typical items that are upcycled are vintage clothing pieces and broken jewelry. I like looking for interesting things that you would never think would have any other function other than their original one - and someone is smart enough...or crazy enough to give it a new life.

Recycled Vinyl LP Spin Art Bowl - Melted Media - Turquoise, gold and silver
(Interested? Click Here)

I have had many a Smirnoff Vodka bottle in my possession in the past (and present). I think it would be quite suave to enjoy my vodka and orange pop (it's a drink!) out of an Upcycled Smirnoff Vodka Bottle Glass:

Recycled Vodka Liquor Bottle Beverage Glasses Set Repurposed Glass
(Interested? Click Here)
Home decor is an excellent way to display upcycled items. Some make an excellent conversation piece, like the above Record Bowl. Many however, can seamlessly be integrated into your interior design.
I particularly like items like this mirror:
Upcycled Aqua Mirror - Vintage
(Interested? Click Here)
And this decor set:
Robins Egg Blue Collection Candle Holders and Home Decor
(Interested? Click Here)

Typically some of my favourite pieces found on Etsy are vintage items that have been repurposed and upcycled to fit into a modern day decor.

Check out my Treasury on Upcycled items from Etsy.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Retro Kitchens - Not a Thing of the Past!

 In no way am I suggesting that this type of kitchen is coming back in style. Not at all.

That being said...

I think there is something to be said for vintage and retro kitchen items. Just a few pieces here and there to give you an eclectic feel. After much reflection as to why I was so attracted to pieces such as this:

(interested? Click here)

I realized that many of these "eclectic" kitschy items were in fact items that were near and dear to my heart. Either my parents at one time had them, surely hand-me downs from more well-off family members, or my grandmother STILL has them, a testament to her frugal, depression era ways.

Most people have an eclectic coffee mug collection, but what about an eclectic plate collection?

 (Interested? Click Here)

(Interested? Click Here)

Or a set of mixing bowls that remind you of when you would make cookies with a parent or grandparent.

Interested? (Click Here)

I'm in love with outfitting a kitchen with just a few pieces of retro decor and serving ware. Buyer be ware however when it comes to cooking ware. Sometimes it is best to go modern...and lead-free.

Just keep in mind when picking out pieces, that you must absolutely love it! Don't buy vintage for the sake of having something vintage. Buy it because you will treasure it! Let's face it, not everyone is going to appreciate a set of Toadstool Cookie Jars - but if you do, than that's all that matters!

(Interested? Click Here)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Introducing Vintage Jewelry in my Shop!

What I like most about stores Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21 and H&M (to name a few) is that their jewelry section is always filled with pieces that remind me of something my grandmother would wear.

There is something timeless about a bauble dangling from your ear lobe.

What I am finding however is that I don’t want something that is vintage-esque…and mass produced. Rather, shopping on Etsy you can find actual vintage earrings that inspired the pieces for all the above mentioned stores.
I have now opened up a new section in my shop for vintage jewelry. So far I have only been able to find earrings that meet my rigorous demands (i.e. would I wear it?).

Click HERE to go to it.

Here are some other finds on ETSY that have caught my eye (including some of my own pieces)

And some of mine:

let’s just try to not go this far…