Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wrapping, packing and wrapping and packing!

At some point, after Christmas, we'll be back to blogging! Right now, we are wrapping and packing and wrapping and packing and shipping and wrapping and packing and shipping!

One little note (shhhhh), now through 12/18, all MZ Wallace bags are 20% off! Use coupon code MZpromo.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Linnea's Lights- simply divine!

I met Laura Cler of Linnea's Lights back in August at this wonderful event called Monday Morning Mimosas organized by the fabulous Erika Firm of Delphine Studio and joined by Smock Paper, Green Paper Company and Russell and Hazel. It was a nice way to spend a morning in the city before I trekked on over to the jinormous NY Gift show in the Jacob Javits center. I just fell in love with these candles for so many reasons. Linnea's Lights, founded by Laura Cler, is a small but quickly growing company based in Indiana. Laura and her mother run the candle company where they meticulously hand pour these lovely triple scented candles in small batches to get the mix and scent just right. The fragrance is subtle and lasts for the entire 60 hour burn. The wicks are of lead free cotton and there are two of them on each candle. They use only pure essences, fine fragrances and sustainable soy wax to create these masterpieces. Their process is completely done by hand. The packaging is a simple, yet sophisticated, recycled natural kraft cylindrical box that is hand stamped with the name of the scent. The glass candle is wrapped in brown paper along with a box of matches. The scents are divine and yet quite unique. They make absolutely lovely gifts, especially at a wonderful price of $28.00. We have already sold a bunch of them. They've been featured in several magazines including In Style, Vogue and Everyday by Rachael Ray. You will be pleased! We carry 8 scents: Moss, Fir, Pomander, Blue Agave, Current Rouge, Bamboo, Yuzu and Winter. I think Pomander is my favorite because of the cloves and spice- it just perfect for this time of year but I also love Bamboo and Yuzu for their really unique and soothing scents. It's really tough to choose!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New fab items from Susy Jack!

We have carried Susy Jack since we started. Created by Susan Connor, a Manhattan artist and designer, the collection emerged in 2007 as bold new alternative in the paper goods market. Inspired by everything from trips to the hardware store to textiles and fashion, the collection's joyful colors, carefully chosen materials, and fun, functional product brings paper to a new place; as much a statement of the user's individuality and style as it is a useful and artistic object.

We just fell fell in love with her great eye for color and modern designs. Her designs just make us happy. Really. She writes an awesome blog at http://www.susanconnordesign.typepad.com/ which is chock full of great images and collages of fashion, style, home design, paper and mundane stuff. It is total eye-candy! We are quite excited to offer her 2010 desk and wall calendars. The colorful and clean images will brighten anyones day. We swear. And, with the help of Susy, we created two different paper goods gift boxes. One for both sides of your brain and life- work and play. The "work" box will help you organize your everyday "to dos" with fun magnets, days of the week clips and a handy notebook for sparks of inspiration. The "play" box also has great magnets and clips but with a nod towards your more imaginative and thoughtful side. Use these to hang pictures of your friends, kids, family and favorite vacation spots. Let these images remind you of what really matters in life (after you pay the bills of course)! Also included is a box of notecards to send to a quick thank you or a "just because note" to your mom or a friend. They come in a stylish eco-friendly "take-out" box for added kitsch. Both the gift boxes and calendars make great gifts for just about anyone on your list, especially for corporate and teacher giving. They are chic, modern, fun and so well-priced! How can you go wrong?

Susy is also committed to creating the most eco-friendly paper goods possible. All of Susy Jack's products are printed and hand-assembled in the USA. Recycled packaging is used for shipping and office needs whenever possible. All papers used in Susy's products are 100% Post Consumer Recycled. How cool is that? We are not sure how she manages to do it all-she is quite amazing!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Thank you! Gratitude Day!

From left to right:

first row:
1. Sukie special notebook
2. Morris & Essex Thank You card
3. Paper + Cup letterpress "You Rock" card
second row:
4. Blue Ribbon Designs Thank you card
5. Paloma's Nest "Cherish" hand stamped petite bowl
6. Smock Paper bamboo "Thank You (kindly)" card
7. Zeichen Press letterpress "You Rock" card

I have not written a blog entry in weeks! I do apologize. A large, overwhelming trade show, a trip to Cape Cod and back to school preparation are just some of the distractions that have kept me from blogging! But, we are all finally getting back into a nice routine. And although I love spontaneity, like a child, I do find comfort in routine! Today I got an email from the stationery website called Tiny Prints about Gratitude Day. I didn't even know Gratitude Day existed but it's a fabulous idea! Today is the day we should all spend a moment (or two) to express our gratitude for the little and big things that make us happy and complete (less the turkey, parades and stuffing)! I'm thankful for my wonderful husband and sweet (most of the time) and beautiful little girls, for my Mom's strength and kindness and for my Dad's warmth and wit. I'm also thankful for my brother's creative talent and his ability to see beauty in so much - a trait he has passed onto his amazing daughter, Ananda. I'm grateful for my little cat, Nikita, who is cuddled up on my lap right now, purring (and unfortunately passing gas)! And for my health, support of my good friends, good coffee, hot showers, great wine, a run without stopping and this absolutely gorgeous day! And of course thanks to all of you who read my blog and shop on my site!

Check out the video that Tiny Prints made. It's pretty cool:

Also, check out this fun application for your Iphone that encourages you to write down something you are grateful for daily!


Thursday, August 6, 2009

SIGGskins- personalize your water bottle!

I'm a big fan of SIGG and Klean Kanteen and any well made stainless steel water bottle than can be reused as opposed to plastic water bottles that we overuse. SIGG's bottles are of great quality and are beautiful designed and fun. They just came out with SIGGskins - a way to personalize your own water bottle with your own print or photograph. You buy a plain white one - there are 3 sizes offered. Then you upload whatever you want. It comes as a large sticker that leaves no residue so you can switch it out at your leisure (OK, who has leisure, anyway?). Well, Italy does right now. The entire country is basically on vacation in August. I just went to my Italian tailor (not my personal one) so really "an" Italian tailor and he is on vacation from Aug 3 to Aug 22? I've decided- I want to me Italian! Ok, I so digress. Back to SIGG- the "skins" are only $9.95 for a limited time. Great for Dad for his tennis game or mom, the yogi- wow- sounds like us. Although I'm more of an aspiring yogi. Click here to check it out. Pretty cool, huh?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tuesday Series- Eco-Friendly candles

I apologize that I have not been blogging as much as I used to. It has been a very busy summer. Fortunately, we received 2 mentions in Lucky Magazine for their July and August issues and on their website and we've received a ton of traffic and orders. Also, I have 2 young children and we took a "break" with camp for the last 2 weeks making it ever so challenging to write blog entries. But we are back in camp again, (thankfully) giving me some much-needed free time.

Welcome to the Tuesday Eco-Elitist series where I talk about easy things that you can do to "green" your life. Do note, I use the term Eco-Elitist with tongue-in-cheek, I'm really not perfect- far from it. I've even thought about changing the name as I really don't want to turn people off to being open minded. There are certain things I won't budge on like recycling and using canvas bags instead of plastic ones. I've been enjoying writing this blog because it is something that interests me and I'm also learning along the way. I realize how hard it is today with all this information coming at you about global warming and BPA in plastic, chlorine in place mats and toxic chemicals in our food and please save the polar bears!!! It is absolutely exhausting! I also know that being green can sometimes be more expensive. I have to be extra careful when shopping in Whole Foods. I love the store and what they stand for and I want my family to be eating good, clean, natural, pesticide and chemical free, wholesome food but I can't spend $300 on groceries every week. The positive is that new research and important information is now available and we are lucky to even have choices. Learn as much as you can handle absorbing. You'll be surprised that you'll start to form new and better habits for you, your family and our precious earth.

Today, I'm going to talk about candles but first let me mention a really terrific book to have on hand. It's called the Green Book and it is written by Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen and published by Three Rivers Press in New York. It is a handy dandy green reference guide, one that you can read daily in order to learn about a new tip or idea that will help you easily make eco-friendly changes in your life "one simple step at a time."

Candles- some candles are made of paraffin wax and paraffin is made from petroleum (oil) which when burned contributes to global warming. It is best to use beeswax or soy candles as they are renewable substances and burn cleaner (approximately 90% cleaner) and 50% longer than paraffin candles. According to the Green Book, the crude oil used to make just one 16 ounce paraffin candle contains enough energy to power a 60 watt light bulb for 100 hours." This fun little book loves hypotheticals- but it does really put things in perspective-"If just one hundred households replaced an 8 ounce petroleum-based candle with a soy or beeswax candle, the energy saved could keep the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center lit 24/7 from Thanksgiving to the fourth of July!" Wow, let's make that happen!

We carry soy candles from Kobo and beeswax candles from Soap and Paper Factory. And our Claus Porto candles are a soy blend. Our Dayna Decker candles is a translucent wax made of natural oils and resin.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Eco-Elitist Tuesday Series- Cool Green Design

Short and sweet this week- check out the cool green design I've come across recently. The top is a really fun bowl or objet d'art made out of recycled glass by Phuze. They are called "goops" and they come in an array of awesome colors. Moving clockwise, the tray is made out of recycled paper by a company called Engage Green and for $14- I'm sure you can find a use for it. The baskets and lacquer bowls are made by Bambu- one of our favorite companies; although, we currently do not sell them in our store - we plan to in the near future. They are beautifully made out of 100% bamboo - fully sustainably, so useful and come in a multitude of fabulous colors!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sleepwear sale! 30-70% off- Eberjey & Elizabeth Cotton

Not much to say except that our sleepwear is 30-70% off! It's a great time to graduate from those ratty tee shirts and boxers!

Eberjey is a wonderful sleepwear line with fabrics that are cool-handed and ultra comfortable! The lace and details that they use are wonderful. Their product is a great value. We carry chemises, camisoles, pants and robes. Be aware- you'll never want to change out of your pajamas again!

Elizabeth Cotton makes beautiful, easy nightshirts out of stunning 240 thread count, Liberty of London fabric - the best you can buy. Coveted by Oprah and many others, these nightshirts are comfortable and classy! Click here to see more.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tuesday Series- The Eco-Elitist- What's up with the Polar Bear?

Polar bears. Simply beautiful animals. And huge. Adult males can weigh 880-1500 lbs with females weighing in at approximately half that size. They are, in fact, the largest carnivorous land animal on earth and live primarily on the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean. They are ferocious hunters despite their oh-so-cute and cuddly appearance, feasting on a diet of mostly seals. But, polar bears' existence is severely threatened. According to the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), "Scientific evidence is overwhelming that the polar bear is in mortal danger as the Arctic sea ice it depends on for survival melts away." We need to protect this amazing animal. Researchers are predicting that by 2050, polar bears will be gone from Alaska along with roughly 67% of the world's total polar bear population. During the last 30 years, a chunk of Arctic sea ice, the size of approximately six Californias, has disappeared. As the world gets hotter due to global warming, the ice in these areas melt and it is melting fast! Some scientists say that the sea ice that the polar bears live on could be gone by 2040; some even say it will vanish by 2012!

The other, more deliberate threat, is the desire to drill in the Arctic. Bulldozers, oil rigs and inevitable oil spills will kill these amazing creatures. Certainly I would like to lessen our dependence on foreign oil but I'd prefer to do that by lowering consumption, not by drilling in the Arctic. Arctic drilling is not the answer. It would take approximately 10 years to extract the oil and refine it for use. Furthermore, the amount that we can obtain would only represent 3% of our daily consumption- not enough to warrant destroying precious ecosystems and wildlife. Besides, our addiction to oil is the heart of the problem and by fixing that - by changing habits, buying smaller cars or hybrid cars, and using more clean energy, we CAN reduce our consumption and that will eventually reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Recently, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar adopted a Bush-era policy that that allows for pro-polluter loopholes, further preventing the government from using the Endangered Species act to protect the polar bears. The NRDC is currently in court fighting to get the Interior Secretary to use the Endangered Species Act to help protect the polar bears from the melting ice AND the Arctic Oil Rush.

What can you do? First, try to reduce your "carbon footprint" to help slow the warming of the earth. There are some great, very easy suggestions at www.stopglobalwarming.org (Laurie David's site).

Second, go to the NRDC website, read more, learn more, sign their petition and donate money- they are fighting the tough fight and need everyone's support. We donate 1% of all our revenues to the NRDC every quarter. We believe that they are strongest organization that is actively fighting to make this world a better and healthier place with 1.2 million members, 400 attorneys, scientists and other professionals that advocate, support and help fight their causes. Take action!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Paloma's Nest in Martha Stewart's Weddings!

Caroline Colom Vasquez's (designer for Paloma's Nest) gorgeous ring bowl was featured in Martha Stewart's Wedding's magazine (summer 09) and we are thrilled! They featured a gold rimmed "palm-sized" bowl that is hand stamped with: "The Sun, The Moon, The Stars, For You." The rings can be tied to the top. What a modern and timeless piece for a wedding - one that the couple will have for years! I love Caroline's work. It is simple, sophisticated and her bowls make very special gifts. They arrive in a kraft box with her logo stamped on the top and are resting, gently in a delicate nest. We have 4 bowls, at approximately 3" in diameter, that are stamped with I love you, I miss you, Cherish and LOVE. The LOVE bowl at $54, approximately 8" in diameter, is a unique and truly special wedding gift. The Cherish bowl has a milagro symbol for miracle as does the LOVE bowl. They are perfect to send to a mom, daughter or a special friend and they are quite well priced at $24.00. Why not send a little love today?

Caroline also does hand stamping on wood, I have an inspiration block that she made with leftover wood pieces that is hand stamped with great advice that I truly think about every day.

Live Simply
Have Hope
Give Thanks
Smile Big
Be Good

We have sold out but can get more. Email me at jennifer@orangeandpear.com if you are interested. Click here to read more about Caroline and Paloma's Nest.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday Series- The Eco-Elitist- my 5 favorite eco-friendly toys and gifts

Birthday parties. What's not too love? Balloons, junk food, cake, bouncy castles, magicians, goody bags - a child's dream. We have been invited to several recently so I always feel like I'm shopping for a gift. I have a few friends in my area with children's clothing businesses so I try to patronize them (like www.chickiddie.com) or I go to the local book store. Yesterday, I was in my favorite toy store in my area called the Darien Toy Box, started by Bill Jensen in an effort to offer well made, unique, educational and of course fun toys and he has a really terrific selection including some great eco-friendly toys. So of course, it gave me an idea for a blog entry. Here are my top 5 favorite eco-friendly toys for ages 2 and up.

1. Charlie and Lola- We are Extremely Very Good Recyclers

Charlie and Lola was created by Lauren Child in 2001 about two siblings- Charlie is the patient, helpful older brother and Lola is the energetic and very inquisitive little girl. These books are fun creative, humorous and great to look at and to read. This one is about recycling. It's a great starter for young children to teach them about the importance of reusing and not just throwing everything in the trash (or on the floor- which is where it all ends up in my house). There is even a great picture of them climbing up a huge heap of garbage bags (my nightmare). Check it out. Call the Darien Toy Box to order: 203-202-2992.

2. The E Racer made by Hape International is a beautifully made toy constructed out of bamboo and water-based paint and let me tell you these things go fast. Both boys and girls loves these cars. It is also very well priced - it ranges from $13.00-$19.00. You can call the Darien Toy Box for this one also, 203-202-2992.

3. The Trapecolo, also made by Hape is a creative play set that includes 180 colorful bamboo pieces that the child can arrange in a multitude of designs. It encourages imaginative skills, planning, understanding of basic geometry and symmetry. It is a great "quiet time" activity for 4 year olds and up (and it's quite beautiful to look at it also). It's also a nicely priced at approximately $27.00.

4. Now isn't this truly a 21st century toy? A recycling truck made by Green toys. These beautifully designed toys are actually made out of recycled plastic milk jugs and they are extremely durable. The packaging is all recycled cardboard and really easy to open. Who has struggled to open that awful toy packaging, cursing under your breathe, as you dig into the thick plastic and zip ties with dull scissors- all while a really anxious child watching you- it's terrible? Green Toys is simply a great company.

5. This Little Piggy's House- There are many great cardboard box houses out there but this one recently caught my eye because it has the chimney, mailbox, window box and dormer. It is quite fun and can be decorated by the child. It is definitely a more expensive toy at $49.99 but one that will be enjoyed! This company also gives 5% of their profits to feeding hungry children.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Jonathan Adler- new salt and pepper shakers!

For years, I have admired Jonathan Adler's work. His pottery is organic, beautiful, modern and timeless- all at the same time. His fantastic sense of humor, wit and sometimes racy perspective all come through in his work. His spring collection this year was just fabulous- there was a ton of color, great graphic prints and lots of humor. I especially love his salt and pepper shakers because they are chic hostess, wedding shower, birthday or just anytime gifts and I was so glad that he offered a bunch of new ones in fabulously designed gift boxes! They are a great price at $48, right under $50.00. They are a perfect way to give a friend a piece of great design that is useful and will add a bit of humor to his or her meals. Many blogs wrote about how stunning his booth was at the NY gift show in January. To see some great images go to: Design Sponge or Apartment Therapy or Happy Mundane. Get a couple of these shakers, we offer free shipping over $75.00 and you'll have a great gift on hand when you need it. Check it out by clicking here.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tuesday Series- The Eco-Elitist- Farmer's Market Season!

I love Farmer's Markets. I love the colors, the smells and I love that the fruit and vegetables look like they just came out of the ground or picked from a tree- not all waxed and polished like the supermarket variety. I love the act of leisurely perusing the plentiful bounty of these local farmers and and I love meeting them- they are often really great people. I always leave satisfied with my finds and the interesting conversations I've had. I always learn something new. It is wonderful to support farmer's markets for many reasons: you are supporting small(ish) farms and therefore small(ish) business - we love that, the fruit and vegetables do not travel too far to get to your market (as opposed to the strawberries that you buy in CT that come from CA) so less carbon is burned in travel, and lastly it encourages eating what's in season. Fruits and vegetables that are eaten in season simply taste better. Also, when you go to a farmer's market, you see vegetables or fruits that you don't usually cook or eat like kale or golden beets- it's a bit of an adventure. And then there are fresh bread, pies and cheese- you can buy for a whole week at a market. Bread can go right in the freezer and then taken out to thaw the morning you are going to eat it. Overripe fruits can be made into quick breads, muffins or pies. See this great article by blog author Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan of The Kitchn about a breakfast pie she made out of bruised apricots in Florence.

You can also go berry or fruit picking. It's a great activity on a beautiful day and a great thing to do with the kids. Check out www.pickyourown.org for some great locations where you can pick your own fruit. Check out the following festivals (found in Martha Stewart Living):

Marysville Peach Festival, July 17-19
Strawberry Festival, July 17-19
New Jersey Peach Festival, July 23-26
Strasburg Corn Festival, July 24-25
Blueberry Festival, July 26
Courtland Pear Festival, July 26

To find more information on how you can find a farmer's market's in your area. Check out this article. Have fun!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Designer Spotlight: Jaboneria Marianella- luscious soaps- treat yourself or a friend

Marianella Febres-Cordero, creator of Jaboneria Marianella, is simply a soap Goddess. I found her after seeing her soaps in several magazines - see press above- I just had to contact her. Inspired by the precious memories of making soap in her mother's kitchen with her sisters every Sunday afternoon in Venezuela, she decided to start a soap making business with her son David Foote, an artist and filmmaker in NYC. She handmakes all her soaps in her own kitchen, now in Dallas, TX. She uses coconut, palm and olive oil for their moisturizing qualities and essential oils and essences for fragrances. Everything is 100% natural. She is inspired by people she meets and her family experiences, she uses these experiences and memories to create very unique scents that linger pleasantly after you use them. She names the soaps in dedication to her loved ones who inspired the creation. Dama de La Noche is dedicated to her son and is created from the scent of a flower that only blooms at night and was ubiquitous in their garden. Coqueta was created in deference to her grandmother and reminds her of the colorful flowers that adorned her terrace in Venezuela and her grapefruit and vanilla preserve (dulce de toronja) - all of this is mixed with the essences of baby powder which sparks sweet memories of her baby sister on a siesta afternoon. Aura Elena was inspired by her mother's sad mysterious eyes, sweet as Oak Moss and Mulberry in addition to the memory of sipping coconut milk while admiring a deep navy December sky. Marianella also spent some time in Rome and created Aranciata which reminds her of evenings enjoyed on a bench with her sisters in Parco Degli Aranci while watching the sunset which resembled an Aurora Borealis. This soap is beautifully marbleized and looks like a stunning sunset. Lemonwood, which is my personal favorite, is imbued with aromas of wood, lemon and reminds her of her father and a stroll through the woods of Arrayanes in Bariloche with friends.

The individual bars are hand wrapped perfectly in chic, elegant paper. The pouches have 2 soaps - a 7 oz shower bar and a 3 oz hand bar and is delicately wrapped in a linen cloth and tied with a ribbon and a letterpress card with her logo- simply beautiful. The bars are stacked with colors that match the wrapping or marbleized for your visual senses. Enjoy a bar for yourself and give the pouch to a friend, mother, new mom or hostess. The beauty, the poetry, thought and passion that goes into making these soaps make them a special gift made by a truly wonderful person. Now through July 18th, enjoy 15% off, use coupon code: marianella.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Tuesday Series- The Eco-Elitist- It's getting hotter in here!

Friday, June 26th was a major day in the fight against global warming. The climate change bill, called the Waxman-Markey bill passed in the House of Representatives. The bill has 4 titles (or goals):
1. clean energy
2. energy efficiency
3. reducing global warming
4. transitioning to a clean energy economy

It focuses on clean and renewable energy (eg. wind, biomass, solar and geothermal), carbon capture and sequestration (helps to reduce global warming by capturing and redirecting emissions from fossil fuel producing plants into the ground), clean cars (biofuels and electric cars), and energy efficiency in buildings, appliances, transportation and homes. It also has a global warming pollution reduction program that has a goal to be at 83% below 2005 CO2 levels by 2050 by focusing on the greatest "offenders"- electric utilities, oil and large industrial companies. The bill will also help companies offset the extra cost in switching to cleaner energy sources. It will encourage colleges and universities to start programs promoting "green careers" and it encourages the exportation of clean energy technology to developing nations.

Whew! It is quite an amazing bill and one that we've been needing for a long time. No, of course, it's not perfect but what is? Surprisingly, some people don't like it. 212 representatives voted against this bill! Frightening, I know. And why? Beats me.

According to Paul Krugman's NYTimes Op-Ed column on Monday, titled "Betraying the Planet," a new M.I.T study has found that the predicted temperature increases are accelerating at a much faster rate than we once thought. A 9 degree rise in temperature at the end of this century is now considered a possibility in a business as usual scenario. To put things in perspective, Krugman points out that New Hampshire would have the climate of North Carolina, Illinois would be like East Texas, and heat waves would be quite severe across the country. Arctic tundras are defrosting, contributing even more carbon dioxide to the problem, and ice sheets are melting faster than expected. AAAAAaaaah. The sky is falling! And 212 representatives voted against it because it's not perfect or they don't believe in the problem. I don't get it. Should we do nothing?

OK, slow down, climate change is quite a serious problem and I know for many who are just trying to put food on their table, keep their jobs and get their kids off to school, it is quite an abstract problem and hard to swallow. And, I'm not trying to be a "doomsdayer." And, yes, these things are quite hard to really predict. But, what I do know is that the earth's atmosphere is changing and changing faster than we thought. Now, it's not just a matter of "saving our earth or the trees"- they are certainly important- it's also about saving ourselves. I've recently heard about an anti-global warming argument the people come before the trees and the animals and therefore we have to worry about the needs of the people first. But don't you think we are just slightly connected to all this? I think so. This climate change has a dramatic effect on our water supply, the food we eat and the landscapes and neighborhoods where we live and what about the severe pollution that is causing an onslaught of asthma especially in children? This is a people problem because we need what the earth produces- we need it for survival and we need the earth to be healthy and clean for our own health. And we need the earth and its awe-inspiring nature for our enjoyment and spirit. So, let's all support the need to move forward and fixing the mess that we have unwittingly created. We have the intelligence and the technology to make things better. This movement creates a whole new industry- one that is sustainable and can grow, one that is steeped in doing things better and helping our race in the long run not an industry that just tries to make things cheaper, bigger and faster. We can do so much better.

You know, it's getting hotter in here! Let's just all cool it and start fixing this problem!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Designer Spotlight: Dayna Decker- lux candles

Dayna Decker developed a keen sense of style and sophistication from her international travels as a Ford model. After mastering the art of perfumery in Gras, France, she decided to create a revolutionary candle which she calls the Chandel based on the word chandelle (the French word for candle). We fell in love with her "Botanika" collection of Chandels that are infused with fresh botanical essence and packaged in the most luxurious and chic box. The wax is translucent and poured into a hand-blown glass vessel. The wick is probably the most unique part of the candle. It is called an EcoWood Wick and is made from organic wood in a natural manufacturing process. The EcoWood Wick burns cleaner than a cotton wick. When lit, the flame is a tear drop shape and the sound is a faint and soothing crackling sound that fades after several minutes. They burn up to 40 hours. The look, sound, and subtle but luxurious scent is simply divine.

We chose our 4 favorite fragrances (see image above) in the 6 0z size. Clockwise, Indigo in a beautiful box adorned by a hydrangea has essences of apple, plumeria, muguet, ozone, white wood and musk. Clementine in an orange orchid box is a velvety citrus scent embellished with sweet woods comprised of orange flower, Neroli, honey, black tea and cassis musk. Yasmin, in a box with a beautiful pink orchid is a lovely spring scent that is comprised of blooming jasmine, lotus, rose, white woods and sheer musk. Leila, the white flower box, is made up of grapefruit, dewberry, lemon flower and amber musk- fresh and simply wonderful.

Dayna Decker candles will create that calming ambiance that we are all looking for right now! Light a candle, grab a book, run a bath- give yourself a day off. Now through July 1st, enjoy 20% off Dayna Decker candles, use coupon code: dayna.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesday Series- The Eco-Elitist- 5 very easy tips

Welcome to the Tuesday Eco-Elitist series. Today, I have 5 very easy tips that will help you do your part towards producing less trash and consequently creating a better, cleaner environment!

1. Try the un-paper towel- check out Athena Create's shop on Etsy. She offers these wonderful fabric clothes that are absorbent and dry quickly. She explains that paper towels are terrible because trees are cut down and the pulp is then bleached (with nasty chemicals) to make something that you will use once and discard. The chemicals then leach into our ground water in the landfill. This is a habit that I also need to break. I do use many paper towels so I'm looking forward to receiving these and changing my bad habit also. You can also save money by adopting the un-paper towel into your lifestyle. See the towels here:

2. Switch to reusable coffee cup sleeves-Starbucks sometimes puts the corrugated cardboard sleeve on your coffee without asking. Give it back to them, send a message and use a reusable one. I just try to have one in my purse for when I get a coffee. There are so many fun ones on Etsy. Try Jenny Wanson's Shop, fabric one below:

Or, I love the "burlappy" ones from A Green Sleeve, also on Etsy.

3. Cut the picnic waste by: bringing reusable plates, cloth napkins, casual utensils and melamine cups to your outdoor picnic or concert at the park or day at the beach. There are so many fun melamine plates and cups that go straight in the dishwasher that there is really no need for paper / plastic utensils for a small gathering. We just received a bold and colorful picnic set from French Bull which has everything you need. See picture above. We also sell great melamine plates from Thomas Paul. We get compliments on these every time we use them. They are chic, useful and great for kids as they are shatterproof and quite durable. They clean in the dishwasher beautifully!

4. Use reusable bags for your produce: I've talked about why plastic bags are so bad in other Eco-Elitist posts. Click on this link here if you missed it. Reusable Bags is a great website that provides excellent information on how you can do your part to help the environment and they sell wonderful products at great prices. This is an image from their site for produce bags. They are stronger and won't create moisture- they let the produce "breathe." Have you noticed the moisture that is created in your plastic bag of corn if you let it sit in the bag for a day- it's not nice. Give these bags a try! Just click on the photo.

5. Extra Credit- use a reusable coffee mug: I know I just proclaimed the benefits of the coffee sleeve or cozy but if you are really ambitious and get your coffee at the same place everyday- then bring your own mug. You can buy travel coffee mugs in most coffee stores and grocery stores these days. Often corporations hand them out as gifts. This one below by DCI is fun. It is a porcelain coffee cup made to look like a paper one. Quite clever! Just tell them to fill it up!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

John Derian- a piece of art, a piece of history

New pieces to Orange and Pear

John Derian rented his lower East side studio to sell his witty and old-world decoupage back in 1994. Then he said, "Hey, if I sell a plate a day, that will help pay the rent." His line is now highly sought after and his store is ultra-cool and eclectic. You can get lost in his eponymous store and feel like you've traveled to India, Morocco or just back to the 19th century anywhere in the world. He has been collecting images, letters, books- anything that inspires him, focusing on 19th Century ephemera, for over 20 years. There is a lot of wonderful decoupage out there but John Derian's is different. He has an eye for the beautiful, graphic, colorful, witty, odd, macabre and dark. He often places images on top of old letters- I love this technique- it makes the image less perfect or pretty if you will - it adds a bit of curiosity and interest. He appeals to any sensibility with his work and displayed all together and it represents the many moods, emotions and experiences that we all have. He is now selling to more than 300 stores in the U.S and Internationally and has been acclaimed by Vogue and Elle Decor. He still has a studio in NYC where he hires a small staff of artisans to help with his production in addition to a small wholesale staff. He just recently designed a melamine line for Target, helping to launch his name to households other than the "artsy set." What I find fun and interesting in selling his work is that he chooses the images that interest him and you can choose a piece that resonates with you- that sparks a wonderful memory, makes you laugh, or just looks beautiful in your home. His plates can be hung, or displayed on easels. We offer the hardware for hanging and can help you find easels. His pieces can be used for entertaining (just wipe clean- do not submerge in water). They make wonderful birthday, hostess, housewarming and wedding gifts. Their appeal is timeless and has lasted for over 20 years and should last for many years to come.

His sealife and ship images are signature to his line.

We love his shell plates- they are beautiful as individual gifts and fabulous as a wall series, hung all together.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I never get tired of . . . 70s modern design- Alexander Girard

These are all available from Urban Outfitters at great prices!
1st row: love pillow, bouquet wall art
2nd row: paper dolls wall art, moon pillow

I just received an email from Urban Outfitters (love that store!) about their new collection of home products designed by the late Alexander Girard- I love seeing great design that easily attainable to everyone. I have always loved his work and this just reminded me of how much I love it so I thought I'd write about it. I love the colors, the whimsy, the boldness. I also love how the images connect with each other so organically. His designs looks retro and new at the same time. Girard was born in NYC in 1907 to an American mother and French-Italian father. He was raised in Florence, Italy (not bad, huh?). He graduated from the Royal School of Architecture in Rome. He is most well-known for his textile designs and his work with Herman Miller. He also created fabric designs for George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames. He and his wife, Susan Girard collected a wide array of folk art, toys and textiles from all over and can be viewed in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the Museum of International Folk Art. He is probably most well-known for his sun images which can be seen all over including La Fonda del Sol 1961 restaurant in NY and FLOR rug tiles.

All these pieces are manufactured by House Industries (a great company that also sells modern design products and terrific fonts). Some of these are no longer available but I absolutely love them all! Check them out.
1st row (l to r): memory game, animal puzzle
2nd row: nativity scene, block puzzle

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tuesday Series- Eco-Elitist-Smock Paper- from bamboo!

Welcome to the Tuesday series called the Eco-Elitist. I must apologize that I have been quite remiss about updating my blog. I was on vacation last week in Cape Cod and it was just too hard or perhaps I was just too tired to update my blog daily. What it is about vacations? I immediately hit "relax mode" and can't even stay awake past 9:30PM and then it takes me a whole day to get my life back in order when I return to "real life." I always have to do a gizzilion loads of laundry and dig out my car which is currently still caked with sand, candy, goldfish and other odd syrupy, sticky substances - evidence of all that I did to keep the kids quiet on the 5 hour car ride. Oh, did I mention that the DVD player broke mid-trip? Aaaah, memories.

Anyway, today, I'm going to multi-task and do an "Eco-Elitist" post combined with a "Designer Spotlight" post because it has been a few days since my last post. I'm going to talk about Smock Paper. They are one of my favorite stationery lines aesthetically and ethically. Smock Paper was the first print shop in the U.S to offer stationery on luxury bamboo paper. Why bamboo you ask? Although most should know by now, Bamboo is 100% sustainable. It is the fastest growing plant in the world without fertilizer or pesticides and requires very little water to grow. Bamboo also takes only 3-5 years to mature to a harvestable height versus 10-20 for most softwoods. And I bet you didn't know that bamboo puts out 35% more oxygen than hardwood trees and absorbs 4 times as much carbon as hardwood! Bamboo can also detoxify water because of its high nitrogen content and it even improves the quality of the soil. So, in sum, bamboo is a great material because harvesting it doesn't hurt the land or habitats in the vicinity and growing it doesn't ruin our ground water with chemicals. In fact, growing it helps our air and soil quality.

Smock takes their commitment to the environment a few steps further. The only use vegetable-oil-based and low-Volatile-organic compound inks (VOC). They use low VOC and citus based solvents. They recycle their photo chemistry, film, paper offcuts, and photopolymer printing plates so that empty ink cans and old rags are kept out of landfills! They recycle and compost their office waste. They use recycled packaging materials and reuse the packing materials and corrugated cardboard that they receive from their suppliers. Their retail packaging is biodegradable, tree-free, and petroleum-free.

Hold on- there's more! They also work to reduce our carbon footprint. They are entirely wind-powered through Native Energy (like us) and they are working with the Conservation Fund’s Go Zero program by “zeroing out” their business’s carbon footprint by planting trees. They even offer bus passes to employees to encourage public transportation usage. Also for their employees, they subsidize 20-week Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) memberships with a local organic farm, because they believe their food shouldn't have to travel 1,500 miles to reach them! Amazing!

They donate to environmental charities such as 1% For The Planet and they partner with American Forests, a very old and terrific organization that helps slow global warming with the planting of trees.

Yes, they are amazing but their product is also beautiful and is quite hard to find a company that has both attributes- trust me I look! They got together with a 500 year-old European mill to create this bamboo paper and it is gorgeous. It's soft, thick and luxurious and letterpress looks especially elegant on this paper. And Smock Paper has this incredible talent in choosing the most sophisticated and elegant colors to use in their chic designs. By sending a beautiful card by Smock Paper, you are not only supporting a great company that is smart and innovative but also going in the right direction in producing products without harming our earth.

Now through June 30th, enjoy 15% off Smock Products, by using coupon code: smock15. We know you'll be pleased!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tuesday Series- The Eco-Elitist- The Idling Myth- Just turn it off!

In the Tuesday Series - The Eco-Elitist (which I call myself "with tongue-in-cheek") - I try to offer suggestions on how you can be smarter and more eco-friendly in your daily activities and purchasing. I'm in no way perfect. There are some activities that I religiously do like recycling, bringing my own bags to the grocery store (I really just hate plastic bags), using compact fluorescent bulbs and disposing of harmful stuff (electronics, batteries properly) but there are so many things I can still do to make a difference.

Like idling. Oh, it's a bad one. And we all do it- a lot. According to the Hinkle Charitable Foundation, "Americans waste 3.8 billion gallons of gas by voluntarily idling their cars." Thanks to the development of suburbia, we are all in our cars all the time- running errands, shopping, getting coffee, going to the bank, school, dry cleaner and commuting. We are on highways and "urban sprawl" going from strip mall to strip mall. Uggh. How many traffic lights to we stop at on a daily basis and how many hours do we sit in traffic- idling? Too many to count. In hybrid cars (I got to try one out recently when I rented a car), the engine actually stops after a few seconds of idling to save gas- it's a little odd at first but it's quite cool and so smart. Now, I'm not suggesting that you shut off your engine at a traffic light or on the highway if you have a conventional car because you really can't do that but there are plenty of times you leave your car running when you could just shut it off.

Let's talk about idling first.

1. There is no need to "warm-up" your car- modern cars today are quite efficient and do not need to be warmed up in the morning for 10 minutes as once thought (unless you are in zero degree weather but that is certainly not the norm). It is actually better to drive a car to "warm it up" because it gets the catalytic converter, the engine and other parts of the car moving and "warm" if you will.

2. Starting your car does not hurt the battery or use more gas than idling- there is a myth that each time you start your car again you waste more gasoline then if you leave it idling. This is false! Modern engines do not operate well when they are idling mode. According to Hinkle, there is a 10 second rule, it is better if you shut off the engine- it's better for the car. Restarting your car does not damage or "wear-out" your battery. In fact, "idling an engine forces it to operate in a very inefficient and gasoline-rich mode that, over time, can degrade the engine's performance and reduce mileage." Too much idling can hurt the important components of your engine (such as the cylinders, spark plugs and exhaust systems. According to the California Energy Commission, "Fuel is only partially combusted when idling because an engine does not operate at its peak temperature. This leads to the build up of fuel residues on cylinder walls that can damage engine components and increase fuel consumption."

In sum, when you voluntarily idle your car for really no reason, you are wasting gas, emitting harmful CO2 into the air (which causes pollution, health problems and global warming) and you are hurting the performance of your car.

So, when you are in the fast food drive-thru, bank teller lane and it looks like it is going to be more than 10 seconds. Turn off your car.

When you are on your phone, waiting to pick someone up or running errands, and it's going to more than 10 seconds, turn the car off.

When you are dropping something off, reading something, looking at the view and it's going to be more than 10 seconds. Turn off your car.

Even better, don't sit in drive-thru lines. Park and walk in. You might get a little exercise and will be doing your part to reduce carbon emissions!


Read this great article for more detailed information: http://www.thehcf.org/antiidlingprimer.html.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tea- it just always makes me feel better

I'll be driving up to Cape Cod with the girls to see my Dad and Stepmother on Wednesday. They live in Wellfleet- a wonderful town that is still rustic and quaint and surrounded by the most beautiful beaches you've ever seen- all established as National Seashore and relatively untouchable (thanks to Jackie Kennedy). They decided to retire there about 4 years ago and have never looked back. They have fully immersed themselves in this smart, tough and quirky community where the dental hygienist becomes Patsy Cline at night, the electrician sells eggs and the secretary to the historical society has a great guitar CD. If you've read John Steinbeck's Cannery Row, Wellfleet is quite similar- full of colorful and simply terrific characters.

Where am I going with this? Good question. Well, my stays in Wellfleet are always full of lovely rituals such as: drinking my morning coffee outside with a view of the bay (while learning about the local birds), evening jazz and a glass of wine, dinner in the "garden", trips to the: beach, Kettle ponds, local bakery, fruit and vegetable stands and plenty of reading (which I don't do enough of at home). One ritual I always look forward to is "tea time." My stepmother is South African and tea is a serious thing. The teapot gets put on the stove several times a day (and often is forgotten about)- luckily with no major consequences. My favorite is the afternoon tea (at roughly 2PM). In my opinion, a lovely cup of hot tea (even in the hot sun) and of course a piece of toast or biscuit is just pure pleasure. It is soothing, relaxing and energizing at the same time. It forces you to sit down and sip. How often do we do that? I'm not diligent enough to do this at home but when I do (like a few minutes ago), it just always makes me feel better. Yes, you can buy tea anywhere and in all grocery stores. But a really good cup of tea must come from a canister of good quality loose tea- it just tastes richer. We looked at many brands of tea for our store and decided to go with Le Palais des Thes because of how they run their company. They source their product directly from the growers. They visit the plantations regularly, allowing them to ensure excellent working conditions, respect for the environment and fair trade practices. We also think their packaging is quite chic and can adorn any kitchen beautifully.

Tea has been consumed for over 2000 years for enjoyment and health benefits. Scientific Research has shown that tea can help lower "bad" cholesterol, aid in digestion, prevent cardio-vascular disease and help prevent cancer.

The Emperor Shen Nung, the father of Chinese medicine and farming wrote in his Medical Book that "tea relieves tiredness, strengthens the will, delights the soul and enlivens the sight."

So, why do I think tea makes a great gift? Typically most people drink tea but will not spend the money on the "good stuff" but really enjoy receiving it. Gifts that can be consumed are often much appreciated- especially for those who already have "everything." We also sell the muslin bags to make your own tea bags- it is so easy! Giving tea is giving a gift of relaxation (and good health). A canister of loose tea along with some lovely bath powder and a good book says "relax, you deserve it" or "take some well-deserved time for yourself." Don't you know people who need a little "me time" and much needed "r and r?" Send them some tea.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Let there be light.

top: Roost Mercury glass votives
2nd row (left to right): Roost chiseled votive, Roost milk glass votives
3rd row: (left to right): Roost square and round galvanized metal lanterns, Roost etched glass votives

I love summer. I love the weather, the fresh food, the crickets, the fireflies, the music festivals, Shakespeare, the beach, fireworks, s'mores. . . OK. I'll stop now. I really love eating outdoors. I can, however, do without the bugs. So, I made sure I had a great selection of votives and lanterns for just that purpose. Candlelight outdoors is not only helpful in shooing (is shoo a verb?) the bugs but also creating that awesome ambiance.

Good food. Great conversation. Some great wine. Aaaah. Check it out.